Is The Rapid Rise Of The Gin Industry Killing Traditional Drinking Cultures?

As I am sure you know over the last 5 years the gin industry has taken a rapid rise seeming to come completely out of nowhere. It is no surprise that the rise of the industry itself is seen as nothing short of a miracle for distilleries large or small. More and more people are being seen to spend more and buying big on premium brands of alcohol. Now more than ever, people are less likely now to go for a standard bottle of wine or beer from the supermarket and are now focusing on more premium labels, which is one of the main reasons for the rise of the industry itself.HD1

In 20018 the sales of gin reached a record high rising 40% in the combined markets of bars, hospitality and supermarkets reaching £1.5 billion, selling around 55 million bottles in 12 months. In the last 5 years the sales in the UK alone for gin have more than doubled. From march 2013 to march 2018 the sales have went from £696 million to £1.5 billion, which is an increase of 804 million, the increase itself is beyond belief when you look at the figures especially with how competitive the drinks market is with so many established brands.


When you look at the larger scale of the growth of the industry you can’t help but think is the rise in sales ruining traditional drinking cultures? can this rise have an instrumental effect on other alcohol markets such as the beer, wine and lower grade spirits. One key factor about the drinks industry is that people all have a preference on a certain brand and tend to stick to that brand throughout most of their life making the market relatively hard to sway especially if you are launching a new brand into the market most people seem very brand loyal to their preferred choice. For me personally I am a Guinness drinker and I tend to very rarely sway away from that brand you would never see me drink any other form of stout such as Murphy’s and I would now and again but not very often take a Hop house or Budweiser. This in my eyes would make me out as being a more traditionally cultured drinker I enjoy a simpler approach to enjoying a drink through a pint of my favourite brand and you wouldn’t see me often sway away from this to other brands. However, with this new-found gin culture you see more and more people venturing away from traditional drinking cultures, going out and maybe trying 6 or even 7 different brands of gin with various different mixers.

The sudden rise of the industry has not just brought with its major profits for the market but also brought about a different culture within the alcohol industry, even the whole idea of going out for a drink has changed people go out and spend a great deal more on the premium brands, put a lot more effort into their appearance and make more of a deal of going for a drink.HD3

Some people would suggest the days of going for a social quite pint after work are now long gone the drinks industry has now changed and grown into a more sophisticated type market. The drinking culture we once knew is now heading out of the social norm it is now becoming more and more of a monthly event with and the social, traditional culture side is gradually disappearing.HD4

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up it could result in the rest of the market suffering greatly, it is clearly seen by major companies the way the industry is going with Diageo now more than ever pushing out their premium drinks rage such as Tanqueray at promotions, as well focusing highly on their gin range with the new release of Gordon’s Pink gin taking centre stage the last 2 years. This itself shows not a great deal of faith in the traditional drinks industry with the major brands Diageo owns such as Guinness, Harp, Carlsberg and Smirnoff almost being moved out of centre stage to make way for gin brands.HD2

If this rapid rise of the gin market keeps up before we know it the industry itself could become one sided. The traditional drinking culture we know will gradually get smaller and possibly even disappear. As a result, this could lead to once major brands declining in sales and possibly even disappearing themselves. The social aspect of our drinking culture may be turned into an upper-class privilege and less of a social culture for everyone. Although some may say this is nothing more than a phase in the industry, and this possibly is true, however one this is for sure and that is that it has had a major effect on the traditional drinking culture we have. The industry is now becoming more sophisticated and with that comes more expense. Gin may only be the top of the industry for a few more years but what it’s done to the industry might have led to a permanent change to the traditional drinking culture we have.

Hugh Dornan is a final year BSc in Communication Management & Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found at: LinkedIn –



From being the best club in the world, to the best marketed club in the world

My name is Christopher Hynds, I’m 22 years old, I am a final year Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster Uni, currently working part time as a Marketing and Communications assistant at Clanmil Housing Association. Oh, and I also happen to support Manchester United Football Club.

If you’re wondering why anybody would ever want to introduce themselves by bringing up such a divisive topic like supporting Man Utd, don’t worry, it’s generally not how I would introduce myself to a total stranger. Also, if you have seen the mention of the word football and Man Utd and continued this far, fair play, but this post isn’t entirely about a football team.

Image result for man utd crest

When tasked with producing a blog for the first time in my life (not counting the many times we have been encouraged to post in this over the past years), my mind, like it does in most moments when I really need it to come up with an idea, came to a complete and utter blank. Panicking, I quickly started jotting down the various things that make me who I am; what I do, my interests, hobbies, my work life and my school life. Very quickly I noticed some recurring themes. Football. Man United. Going out. My job as a Marketing and Communications assistant. My studies as Communications and PR student. Football. Man United.

Image result for football crazy

All of a sudden, things started swirling in my head and I had one of those things that you get sometimes, an idea I think it’s called? Why not combine some of these. Marketing and Man Utd, genius. The biggest club in the world, through the lens of something I have studied and also happen to do for some beer money, Marketing.

Related image

If you get squeamish at the mention of the word football from this point I apologise because from this point onward I will be alluding to some on and off field activity by Man Utd, but mostly I want to look at how Manchester United have marketed themselves since they were bought over by Billionaire Malcolm Glazer on the advent of £100,000,000 pound footballers, and how as a business, it has alienated it’s consumers, or, it’s fans so to speak.

Short bit of history of the club that is necessary for context (sorry). Manchester United Football Club for years have been one of the biggest football clubs in the world. Their Head Coach or Manager or Glorious Leader if you are a United fan, for 27 years from 1987 to 2013 was a man called Sir Alex Ferguson who, as you could imagine, managed the players and the team. He was assisted for years by a man called David Gill, in the capacity of Director of Football. This is a ambiguous term in football but it is generally someone who, working with the manager and a budget given to him by the board, decides what players to buy or sell for the club. The board ran the club and took control of all commercial issues.

United gained a lot of their supporters during Ferguson’s time in charge as they won 38 trophies in his 27 years as manager of the team, breaking records and setting precedents. With good football and success came fans, with more fans came more money and with more money around the club came more interested suitors. United were bought out in between 2003 and 2005 by the Glazer Family, billionaires from the USA, all the while being advised by an accountant named Ed Woodward who would later become Director of Commercial and Media Operations at the club, bringing the clubs commercial revenue from £48.7m in 2005 to £272.6 in 2017.

Image result for money

The product of a football club is ultimately the team that is playing football for the club, and these players market the team excellently (sometimes) by playing well. The consumers of the club are the fans. When the product (the team) is good and the team are winning, then the consumer (the fan) is also happy, and that’s what I believe football should be about. But Manchester United’s only product isn’t just the team that plays for them every week, how could you make any money off 22 players who earn £100k a week? Man United’ “second” product is their vast merchandise range. It has vast commercial interests and sponsorship deals, it has its own TV channel, and a website to market these tie ins and products.

Image result for mutv

They have gained a reputation for being the most supported club in the world, boldly claiming in 2012 to have 659 million fans worldwide. Broken down, it was estimated that 90 million of those fans came from Europe, 71 million of those came from the Americas, 173 million from the Middle East and Africa, and 325 million coming from Asia Pacific. With all those fans, comes all the sales of merchandise, and as you can imagine, when a brand new replica jersey new costs £70 to buy when it is released and you have a target audience of 659 million people, then you are going to want to market your brand well.

Fans were happy with good football on the pitch and good players, but when Ferguson and Gill left the club in 2013, the board was left with a massive task of replacing a legendary manager and a very savvy Director of Football in David Gill.

They gave the Director of Football job to the smart accountant who had overseen making the club all its money with its commercial interests, Ed Woodward. Ed may be the smartest guy in world when it comes to making money, but he hasn’t got a clue about football. And he has been trusted since 2013 to make all decisions regarding football played at the club. The guy clearly knows how to make a deal with a commercial entities though, as evidenced by these very cringeworthy corporate tie in advertisements. i will never be able to look at Wayne Rooney the same way.

The accountant in Ed Woodward makes Man United a lot of money, but this has sacrifices the quality of how they play. He has gone through three managers in 5 years, with very little success on the pitch. He signed one of the biggest managers in the world, Jose Mourinho, and has failed to work well with him, signing players that will make the club money, as opposed to players who the very expensive manager wants. He has made no effort to cooperate with new managers and give them the players they want. He signs nice players like Paul Pogba who has a generation of young fans dabbing and millions of fans on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat, because he knows it is going to sell well for the club in terms of its commercial value, but he doesn’t put any consideration into the quality of the product.

A player called Alexis Sanchez is the epitome of this. The team did not need him, he was ageing, but he was a very luxurious player with a massive reputation whose wages were more than any other player in the club, although he had a very good reputation, the manager did not want him. The transfer was made regardless, there was a social media reveal with Alexis Sanchez playing a piano to the song “Glory, Glory, Man United” and Alexis Sanchez went on to break records for jersey sales, I’m sure Ed was buzzing. But the manager wasn’t, the fans aren’t. Alexis Sanchez scored 24 goals in 38 games the year before he joined United. He has scored 3 in 18 since joining, and United have slumped to eight place this season. Glory, Glory, Man United, indeed.

What you see on Instagram:

Vs What you see in Reality: Image result for alexis sanchez bench

The club has been excessively marketing itself brilliantly, and as you can see by the revenue increase every year, this has been working, with the club making massive profits. But with the ambition to succeed and make its consumers happy gone and replaced with the desire to milk the proverbial cow, it leaves a sour taste in the mouth of true fans. It’s like Apple and how they excessively market their product so well and with so much money and quality in their adverts that they have everyone thinking that the product is so great, when in reality they are alienating their customers by releasing new phones each year and making the software slower on older models. You can make your product look well but what is the use when it’s consumers are sitting with a useless product that looks shiny. Rant Blog over.

Image result for apple comic

Christopher Hynds is a final year BSc in Communications Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Twitter: @chrissyoheidin ; LinkedIn:

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement

The Tomorrow Lab Presents: Creative Engagement


Last week I attended an event on Creative Engagement by local digital marketing agency The Tomorrow Lab. It comprised of six speakers from a diverse range of backgrounds talking about branding, social media and marketing (there was also a lot of pizza and beer, but I promise that wasn’t my only motive for attending…). Although primarily targeting those in the marketing industry, much of the advice imparted by the speakers can easily be taken as guidance for life. In the spirit of brevity, I’d like to highlight two of my favourite speakers from the day and what I learnt overall.

I’ll start with Sheree Atcheson; an impressive figure who wears many hats as a tech business consultant for Deloitte, UK expansion director at Women Who Code and founder of her own social responsibility organisation I Am Lanka. She delivered an inspiring talk about unexpected responsibility. To her, this meant being thrust into leadership (through her own hard work), at a young age. As a petite, feminine 20-something of Sri Lankan descent brought up in Tyrone, she professed herself that she was not what you would picture a typical leader to look like. However, rather than shy away from her responsibility, she embraced it and used her privilege to amplify others. She encouraged us to think about how we can all make an impact, simply by understanding our own privilege and really focusing our efforts. Sheree has an impressively long list of achievements, but the one that inspired me most was her founding of I Am Lanka. Despite living in Belfast, she facilitates important conversations and encourages Sri Lankans to champion their own homegrown talent before looking further afield. At a time when privilege is a hotly debated issue, Sheree calmly demonstrates how it is on us to use our own for the good of others.

The keynote speaker was Helena Langdon, Head of Digital and Communities at Innocent Drinks. If you’re familiar with Innocent’s humorous and quirky marketing tactics, then you’ll have a good idea of Helena’s personality. The company’s social media has spawned numerous viral campaigns, #1 Twitter trends and made it to all of the major national press, simply by being relevant in their own way. For example, did you know that Helena is responsible for #DogsAtPollingStations? And the well-traversed 4th Floor Stapler? What’s her magic formula? Basically, there isn’t one. Helena’s advice is to always keep things personal and remember that you’re dealing with other humans. This allows real conversation to happen, which in turn builds their brand from the ground up. Helena also believes in learning by doing, confessing that she has learnt many things by accident and that luck also has a massive deal to do with it. Luckily, they have an enabling rule at Innocent: “If you’re 70%, go for it.” Isn’t that a great general rule of thumb for life? It gives us the licence to take risks and make bold, brave decisions. Of course, mistakes will be made, but mistakes are there to be learnt from and help us develop in the long run.


All six of the speakers gave their own valuable advice. Matthew Thompson, founder of Best of Belfast, encourages us to go deep, not wide, to create content that impacts and moves our audience. He believes that when you make content for everyone, you make content for no one. Alan Davison, Brand Strategy Director at The Foundation, showed us how your branding can completely change how people perceive your business (and also revealed that sometimes the best creative thoughts come from having a few glasses of wine!). Matthew Morris, founder of The Bearded Candlemakers, also believes in creating authentic content that showcases your own personal brand as well as your products. This has helped him build an Instagram community that he engages with regularly (and who all love his dog Teddy!). Sophie Smith, Senior Digital Marketing Specialist at The Tomorrow Lab, demonstrated how today’s technology can provide us with incredibly detailed insights of how our business is performing and how we can use these to take the guesswork out of building an excellent marketing campaign. I think she should also be commended for injecting a bit of humour to a talk on analytical data!

At the end of the day I left the event happily satiated with pizza, beer and some food for thought. All of the talks had one recurring ideal to me; be authentic and let your personality show through in all that you do, whether that be creating content for your brand’s social media channels or connecting with the people in your own life. I’d like to extend a big thank you to all of the speakers and to The Tomorrow Lab for hosting, I’m looking forward to the next event already!

Rachael Gordon is a second year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Twitter @gordorachael and Instagram @rachaelgordon

Clean Home vs. Chemical Free Zone


A chore for many and a hobby for some.

As sad as it might be to say cleaning is something I enjoy, you can’t argue that a clean, clutter-free environment is not a pleasant place to be.


Maybe these thoughts are a foreign language to some. But if you can in any way appreciate this perspective, perhaps you’ll understand the joy that a visit to the cleaning product aisle in the supermarket brings (and maybe, you’ll have even experienced it yourself!)


Or maybe, that’s the most ridiculous statement you’ve ever heard.

However you feel about it, I know that my feelings are no longer the same, for reasons I never considered to be an issue.


After spending 7 months in the domestic cleaning industry I can no longer look at cleaning products with the same heartfelt appreciation I did once before

Besides that fact (without going into the details) that it is not an enjoyable part-time job

It’s certainly not something (as I ‘ve learnt from experience) that’s good for your health.

Physical activity every day ✅ (maybe that shouldn’t be considered the worst part)

Breaking your back trying to haul Henry the hoover in and out of homes/up & down stairs ✅

Breathing in harmful chemicals ✅

I would never have imagined that the amount of energy being exerted could be negatively affected by the toxic fumes exposed by every bottle

Maybe I missed the part where they educated me about this in my childhood.

Maybe I’ve just lost the plot entirely.

Yes, I know certain chemicals shouldn’t be mixed,

Yes, I know bleach should be kept far away from children,

Yes, I know that there are specific chemicals that should be used with precaution even in small, diluted quantities.

But when everyday cleaning products are used every day and they begin to have adverse effects on your health?

I’ll admit maybe when it’s your job you’re using them more often than the average human concerned with keeping their home smelling fresh and countertops bacteria free.

But still.

Google has a lot to say on these issues and you can check it out for yourself.

I just know that when I began to cut back on using cleaning products completely I found that water and equal elbow grease left the same impression.

Could it all be just a marketing ploy?

Do cleaning products really make a difference to the cleanliness of your home?

Or do they just pollute your environment with toxins to give you the impression of a clean home?

Related imageImage result for you sit on a throne of lies

You can argue with the experts.

I just know I’m no longer as eager to try out the newest scent in the Zoflora concentrated disinfectant range or Febreze’s newest collection of holiday scents for Christmas.

If you’re particularly keen, Pinterest is the best place to pick up natural cleaning hints and tips on how lemons and vinegar will do the same job at a fraction of the price.

Rachel Henry is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising and Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin at: Rachel Henry

Hush From Scratch

There’s something very satisfying about launching a new nightclub event. Especially in a small city like Belfast where the competitors witness your every move and try their best to trip you up at every hurdle. It’s a thrilling and hands-on process that brings great success, but it requires more work than you can imagine. However, the proud moment when you succeed makes the stress all that more rewarding.

Here is a little insight to how we developed HUSH, a successful Saturday night brand that was located in the city centre. HUSH was introduced to the renowned Belfast nightlife scene following a strategic 6-week launch campaign similar to any PR campaign you would see from our beloved duo, Grunig and Hunt.

First was the long and draining planning stage. It was crucial for the basis of the brand. We brainstormed the initial fundamentals of any club night; gaps in the market, where we wanted to position, the target demographic, brand names, artwork design for online and print, the music policy and things of that nature.

We sent off different brand ideas to our graphic designer who came up variations of logos in terms of font, style and colour. It was exciting seeing all our ideas slowly but surely coming to life. These variations were pitched to focus groups consisting of staff and our target market. The final call was then made. We now had a brand and a logo, it was time to get this show on the road!

Next was the implementation stage. This involved increasing brand awareness by getting as many ‘eyes’ as possible on our new brand, creating a buzz amongst our customers and giving them a taste of what’s to come. This was completed using both traditional methods and more contemporary digitalised methods.

The process involved a lot of questions and answers. “What are the best channels to reach our target audience?” It’s apparent that social media is leaps and bounds above other platforms. We discovered Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram are a club promoter’s dream. You can interact instantly with your consumers 24/7 for relatively no costs. Cheap, cheerful and easy, just the way it should be.

According to McGaritty, P. (2017), “Facebook is dominant social media platform with over 65% of adults using it in Northern Ireland.” Building the HUSH Facebook ‘business page’ was our main focus, as this was by far our most important asset. This page was our customers first point of contact where they could message us with any questions or booking requests. This is where we created events for every Saturday, uploaded photo albums, constructed a ‘guest list’ and booked in tables.

Content on the page varied, however it was designed to be interactive, relatable and relevant. This increased the likelihood of customers sharing the content from their own personal profiles and ‘tagging’ other friends. They would soon become brand evangelists and advocates! Content could be anything at all; drinks deals, funny videos or ‘memes’, DJ graphics, entry prices or generic promotional posts.

It was important to build the likes, reach and interaction amongst customers and ultimately drive all traffic through this platform. We used many tricks of the trade such as competition give-aways and a few promoter wizardry skills that need to be kept HUSH HUSH…The first video we posted was an interactive competition for the launch night to win free entry, a reserved table and drinks. To enter this, we asked customers to ‘like’ the Facebook page, share the video to their own profile and tag 5 friends. This technique caused the video to spread like wildfire and it reached 37,978 people, 16.2k views, 349 likes and 306 comments.

We did not forget about the traditional methods for our PR campaign. We smartly used our contacts to our advantage to save on major costs. The club GM was personal friends with an executive from The Belfast Telegraph and we luckily secured a press release about the launch into the paper. This was also published by ‘The Tab’ – an online newsletter for students and on Belfast Live’s website and Facebook page. One of our DJs was also a radio DJ for Blast 106. He hooked us up with a 30 second radio ad for a fraction of the price and promoted the brand every day between 6-9pm. These were great additions to our campaign and increased the awareness dramatically.

The last stage was the launch. This was Judgment Day for us. Would the long hours of tedious work be worth it? It was the most exciting day, adrenaline was flowing around the air and there was a special buzz which cannot be easily replicated. It was the time to ensure that everything was in place and making sure staff knew their roles. Knowing all the tables were sold out and seeing the guest-list numbers get higher and higher was a sign that success was on the horizon. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t slightly nervous counting down the hours before we opened our doors for the first time.

There is no better feeling than coming up with something from scratch, building it up, utilising all methods, pulling it off and becoming a success. You know it has all been worth it after witnessing the happy customers having a great time and wanting to come back. We were a full house on our launch night and the event has continued to attract steady numbers ever since. Success for the not so HUSH!
If you want to know more about the experience, please feel free to contact me.


Cal McIlwaine is a final year BSc in Public Relations student at Ulster University. He can be found on Facebook – Facebook Account / Twitter – Twitter Account / LinkedIn – Linkedin Account

Video Link:





McGaritty, P.  (2017). Social Media Use in Northern Ireland.

Keeping up with Kylie’s PR Blunders

Kylie Jenner has been in the public eye since she was ten years old, but in 2016 when she launched her own cosmetics brand, she finally began to hold her own in the spotlight.

Of course, something that comes with every business venture that any of the Kardiashian/Jenners embark on, is bad publicity, and this was no different for the youngest of the clan.

From the very beginning of the brand, there has been constant backlash of everything that the young entrepreneur has launched. Not long after the first LipKit launch, beauty vloggers began to review the first of the products, and gave very honest, very brutal reviews.

Not only had the products themselves been receiving the awful feedback, the company itself had been getting dogged with complaints of missing products, with customers waiting months and months for their order to arrive, some customers even contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) for advice. The BBB website actually displays information about the complaints it’s received of different companies, and of the 136 complaints filed about Kylie Cosmetics, the majority fell under the categories of delivery issues and problems with the products. During this first major PR blunder, the BBB first rated them an F, which then changed to a NR (no rating).

Not exactly great PR for an up and coming business. The company has since had their rating improved to a B, but the negative reviews from customers still overpower the positive, out of 348 reviews, 199 of them are negative, a whopping 57%.

“I placed an order on 12/2/17 for the Koko set for my niece and they have yet to send it out. I have e-mailed them on the 7th but receive a generic response that didn’t answer any of my questions. There is no customer service backing this product . I don’t understand how they are at a B+?”
“I purchased the KoKo Collection lipsticks on 10/24 at around 9:22 p.m. After doing some research on the colors I decided they wouldn’t be a good fit and at around 9:45 p.m. I emailed Kylie’s customer service to cancel my order. I received a response on 10/27 informing me that my order was already placed and I couldn’t cancel my order. I somehow was hopeful that I would be able to use some of the product if not all. Well yesterday (10/30) I received the ripped kit with used lipsticks which was clearly returned by another customer. I emailed customer service right away and provided pictures of the used lipstick tubes and broken package. Customer service got back to me today and notified me that they didn’t accept returns of broken products! will be tossing these in the garbage and will never recommend this cosmetic line to anyone. Buying products online without being able to swatch them is difficult enough and risky on the consumer and therefore buying from a cosmetic line that doesn’t do returns or refunds is ludicrous.”

Other than the ongoing negative customer reviews, the company has had no major PR mishaps in the last couple years. Until now.

With the most recent launch of her brand involving an entire new range of concealers, lipsticks and a brush set, 2 out of 3 of the products have come under fire on the Internet.

Firstly, a lot of the make-up community have criticized the make-up mogul for copying Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand with the new concealers. Before the Fenty Beauty launch a few months ago, not many brands had put out products that was inclusive of all skin tones across the board, and this is why Kylie’s concealers have had backlash. Many believe that Kylie has copied Rihanna’s shade range. So, I suppose you could be criticized for worse things than being racially inclusive, right?

However, another criticism of the same product is that Kylie Cosmetics is developed in the same factory as much cheaper e-commerce brand ColourPop, so many are slating the concealers for being the exact same as the ones ColourPop released not so long ago, just with Kylie’s name on it.

Kylie Cosmetics, for the first time since launching in 2016, also released set of brushes, sold separately and as a collective on the website. The collection includes 16, silver/chrome “real hair” brushes, which according to the reviews made by beauty vloggers in the last week, perform well. Although, the thing on everyone’s mind is not how they perform, or how they look, it’s the whopping $360 price tag.

Controversial make-up artist and owner of cosmetic brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics, Jeffree Star published his very honest and brutal opinion of the brushes as soon as the brushes were available to purchase. In a review posted to his youtube channel, Star first of all, described the ‘silver brush roll’ that the brushes came in as ‘tin foil’. He stated to his fans that for what you’re getting, and paying $360 (plus tax and shipping), you’re really paying for a over-hyped celebrity name.

And many other YouTube famous make-up experts seem to agree with this opinion.

Kylie Jenner took to Twitter to defend the price tag, and compared her brush set to the sets released by legendary make-up brands such as MAC, Artis and Kevyn Aucoin, which actually made things worse for Kylie, as many believe someone who has only been in the make-up industry for a few years, simply cannot compare her products to those luxury brands that have been around for a lifetime.

It would seem that Kylie Cosmetics, and maybe Kylie Jenner in general, need a PR professional, and stat.

Hollie Thomson is a final year BSc student in Communication Management and Public Relations at Ulster University. She can be found on Linkedin: or Facebook: Hollie Thomson

4 things marketers can learn from Willy Wonka- ‘The Marketing Legend’

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (starring Johnny Depp, obviously) has always been one of my favourite films- such a child at heart!!



This version was released when I was nine. I would have been sitting in front of the TV drooling over all the delicious chocolate and sweets, desperately wanting little Charlie Bucket to find the last golden ticket. Twelve years on, I’m not afraid to say I still love the film however I am watching it from a PR and marketing perspective… yes, my Saturday nights are exciting!

This is totally my own opinion, after all I’m only a final year student, I’m an amateur but from my placement year working in a marketing department I think businesses could learn a thing or two from this fictional character.

  1. Being the best

Aside from the catchy songs that I sing along to, every decision Willy Wonka makes shows us that he’s entirely focused around being the best. As the saying goes ‘businesses should “be the cheapest or be the best”.  With all the success Willy Wonka has he still recognises the need for cheaper products e.g. when he creates high-quality Everlasting Gobstoppers specifically “for children with very little pocket money”, transmitting a chocolate bar by television, and a stick of gum that tastes like a three-course meal. He makes sure that he is front-page news; fame is at the heart of what he is trying to do and he wants the promotion to be talked about, shared and trending.

  1. Competition is fierce


He closed the gates of his factory for good merely because competitors kept stealing his recipes, this as a result shows us just how advanced he was in his thinking in comparison to his competitors.  Now, I wouldn’t say that it’s a good idea to close up shop just because you have competitors but this is why we have creative marketing strategies, to make us ‘stand out from the crowd.’ The lesson from Willy is that if you do not have a plan for improving your current products or services and developing the next game changer in your industry, your competitors probably will.

  1. Re-opening and the media

A great creative idea will always capture the imagination of the media and echo with the audiences. What other way to do this than to hold a good old competition. In the world of social media today we see competitions for winning literally EVERYTHING from TV’s to Holidays to a huge makeup give away and the thing is, does anyone ever actually win the prizes? Is it a tactic to gain more followers and raise more brand awareness on particular social media platforms? Surely someone is going to catch on to this! The beauty Willy Wonka’s competition was that he didn’t really need his target audience to do anything, except buy as many chocolate bars as they wished to find the golden ticket, then again for any child this would be a dream, so it’s no chore!

He relied on the media like newspapers, television news and brochures. As soon as the word got out people of all ages were delving through stores in search for one of the five select Wonka bars, sales went up and profits surged!

  1. The Golden Ticket

Considering the fact that no member of the general public had ever stepped foot inside the chocolate factory, limiting the number of tickets to 5 meant that Willy Wonka automatically created a demand and major FOMO (the fear of missing out) in winning a golden ticket, it nearly becomes feverish. It created a buzz and had got everyone around the world talking about it. It was as if it was something that money couldn’t buy, you just had to believe in hope!


As I said, Willy Wonka and his marketing strategy are fiction and not everything he does works in the real world. I mean, if companies could hire Oompa Loompa’s instead of people we would all be in trouble! However I think this is a fun way of looking at the opportunities for marketing and improving performance!


CHOCOLATE DOES! Go on, have that chocolate that I have been tempting you with this whole post.

Laura Duffy is a final year Public Relations Student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on Instagram @laura_duffyy and on Linkedin: