Diageo wants a Great British Booze Off

Britain is now obsessed with baking, so why not cocktail shaking?

by Rachel Savage

Diageo has its beady eye on the butter icing bandwagon that is the Great British Bake Off. If people can get that excited about cakes, the drinks giant’s reasoning goes, why not cocktails?

‘If we can have a programme that millions of people tune into to watch people bake cakes, why can’t we have a programme where people come and make drinks? I could absolutely see that as the future,’ Richard Barlow, Diageo’s UK customer marketing manager, told The Drum.

‘You’ve just got to go on YouTube and look at Jamie Oliver and see what he’s doing around drinks at the moment, so yes I think the potential is huge.’

Diageo, which owns Baileys, Smirnoff and Gordon’s Gin, has already taken tentative sips in the world of TV, broadcasting its Reserve World Class mixology competition in several countries last year, including on the Food Channel in the UK (MT's editor saw the cocktail competition, mixologist blood, sweat 'n' tears included, up close in India in 2011).

‘It’s not Masterchef,’ said Diageo’s UK head of reserve brands Nick Temperley (you don’t say). ‘But it’s a first step. If things go well… there’s every reason to believe that we as a company would be very keen for that to happen.’

‘I don’t know if we would produce it but we would be very keen for brands turning up on TV in an interesting way, creating interesting drinks and telling stories,’ he added.

It’s a bit more explicit than product placement, then, but a sign of the marketing times. As companies become increasingly sceptical about the value of ordinary advertising, particularly online display ads, more and more are looking to produce their own ‘content’ – be it ‘native’ articles online or, in this case, reality TV.

Diageo did, however, tell City AM it wasn’t actively working on a show. Probably for the best – after all, the thing about bandwagons is they tend to keep on rolling…

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