Or how one brand took the juice out of the bottle for a tangible experience
By Vincenza Di Maggio
Photos by Fine Young Man Productions

Have you ever taken Lewis Carroll’s advice and tried believing in “as many as six impossible things before breakfast?” You probably have without even realizing it; for instance, during your brainstorming meeting as you fiddle with your pencil and try to “think outside of the box,” racking your brain for creative ways to market your brand to an audience.

Well, here’s some inspiration for you… Imagine an enchanted forest growing inside of a warehouse, occupied by a bar built inside of a tree trunk measuring nearly 10 feet in circumference, a bearded lady serving cocktails out of a wishing well, a flourishing garden of giant sized mushrooms, a fountain of flowing water infused with cucumbers and rose petals, and wood sprites frolicking about, all the while paying no mind to the fact that it is snowing… indoors… as sparkling butterflies flutter from tree to tree.

Impossible, right? Think again.

Hendrick’s did it. The delightfully curious Hendrick’s Gin (www.hendricksgin.com) – named the world’s best gin by the Wall Street Journal (www.online.wsj.com) – took creative thinking to a whole new level and proved that no idea is too outlandish.

Hendrick's Brand Ambassador, Jim Ryan

Anything is possible. So believes Joanne Birkitt, Senior Brand Manager for Hendrick’s Gin who explains, “We created the concept for the Enchanted Forest of Curiosities last year as a unique way through which to invite consumers to experience a journey into the world of Hendrick’s. That journey is intriguing, unexpected, peculiar and, of course, filled with high-quality, delicious cocktails – possibly served by a man standing inside of a piano.”

From December 13th to December 15th Hendrick’s Gin hosted a three-day celebration in a warehouse in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in which an Enchanted Forest of Curiosities that flawlessly reflected the delightfully peculiar essence of the gin was magically brought to life. Hendrick’s Brooklyn event was preceded by a similar west coast event in San Francisco. Both events served – and succeeded – in increasing customer awareness of the cucumber and rose infused beverage. Gin and non-gin drinkers alike were inevitably intrigued by the curious world of oddities Hendrick’s presented them with.

Birkitt says, “Our goal for this signature event series was to introduce Hendrick’s cocktails to consumers in a setting that accurately reflects the brand’s delightfully unusual essence. We don’t do things that other gin brands do. And if that means serving cocktails out of a wishing well by a bearded lady, then we’ve done our job.”

The unique nature of Hendrick’s gin was exhibited through both the décor as well as the entertainment for the event. The first night of festivities included the attendance of a Victrola DJ as well as the participation of the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus who charmed the audience with spectacular acts performed by an aerialist, a sword swallower, and a strongman. On the second night, the space was used to host an intimate dinner of 25 guests, all of whom were invited by Edible NY (www.ediblecommunities.com). The food was prepared by a few of New York’s finest chefs who imaginatively paired unique Hendrick’s cocktails with recipes taken from the new Edible Brooklyn cookbook. The curtain closed on the three-day event with a featured performance by legendary local drag queen and comedian, Hedda Lettuce. As guests left the magic of the enchanted forest and retreated back to their homes it was like stepping out of a fairytale and being transported back to reality.

The achievement of such a bizarrely stunning set design would certainly not have been possible without the creative genius of Miguel Calvo, Hendrick’s Gin’s Enchanted Forest of Curiosities Creative Director, who shares, “My creative inspiration for the forest designs drew from the whimsical world of Hendrick’s itself and the notion that anything is possible. When I come in contact with Hendrick’s, whether it is through a cocktail or through the website, I feel the creative complexity of the brand and I knew it would be important to convey that through my design. It was important to me to ensure that guests of the events had a complete sensory experience.”

To achieve the uncannily true-to-life sensation that is embodied in the forest-scape, a team of 15 muralists, crafters, carpenters, foam and floral designers, lead by Calvo, dedicated a full week to the design of the set. The installation implemented the use of 4500 lbs of mulch and dirt, 3000 sq feet of double-sided Tyvek, 1000 artificial butterflies, 1000 sq feet of moss, 33 sq feet of fake snow, 1 case of glitter, 20 gallons of paint, and 100 cans of spray paint. Calvo comments, “We used real dirt/mulch for smell, running water for sound and vaudevillian style artificial snowmakers for a sense of depth. Knowing that cucumber and rose essence is unique to Hendrick’s, I highlighted that with a gigantic water fountain filled with rose petals and cucumber slices and created cucumber floral arrangements in New York. In San Francisco I wove in elements of the brand’s Victorian aesthetic with extremely elaborate clustered vignettes of butterflies and florals typical of that era.” The result was the creation of a truly breathtaking, out of this world atmosphere that was sure to leave guests thinking “We are definitely not in Brooklyn anymore.”

This year’s exciting events were neither the first nor the last of Hendrick’s Gin enthralling surprises. Sit tight, because Birkitt reveals that Hendrick’s is planning an all-new signature event series in 2012. In fact, while she won’t yet share details, Birkitt remarks, “Rest assured, it is anything but ordinary!”