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Copywriting Ideas From Brand Names - Seagram Passport Scotch

Updated on July 15, 2014
The Idea Of Travel In The Desert Lives On In Ads For Passport Scotch
The Idea Of Travel In The Desert Lives On In Ads For Passport Scotch | Source

"A Great Brand Building Exercise" - Andrew Muir, Seagram

This direct mailer for a brand of alcohol called Passport Scotch from Seagram is an example of how to build creative on the brand name. It had the client, Andrew Muir in tears of laughter. He called it 'a great brand building exercise.'

A Print Ad For Seagram's Passport Scotch - The Idea Comes From The Brand Name
A Print Ad For Seagram's Passport Scotch - The Idea Comes From The Brand Name | Source

Stick to the Brand Name Whenever Possible

The term 'passport' evokes travel. Of course the brand image had to be kept in mind while writing. The brand was positioned as: The modern contemporary scotch for the modern, international “young” man.

The product had to be the hero; without Passport, there'd be no story to tell. That was the way to build the brand.

Envelope Line: You are about to embark on a voyage of discovery

The letter introduced the reader to the first in a series of travelogues. Walter Wanderlust traveling through Egypt on a camel that developed a taste for the scotch. Walter embodied the brand – international,”young.” Well, only the young would choose to travel by camel across Egypt!

And then came Walter’s Memoir in a leaflet that built the brand in a unique manner, weaving its qualities through the story. The paragraphs with asterisks were footnotes.

Memoir/Leaflet For Passport Scotch Direct Mail


Travels with Khoshkhesh

Egypt fascinates me. And I don’t let anything come between me and my fascinations.

So, naturally, conducted tours are not for me. I’d rather ride a camel all by my lone self (accompanied of course, by my talisman, a bottle of Passport Scotch which like my credit card I never leave home without.

Khohkhesh was the proverbial ill-tempered camel, descended from the noble lineage of Al Habin of the many teeth. Pouting perpetually, showing his large, lethal yellow teeth, and sporting that contemptuous air that has bred an inferiority complex in many a lesser mortal.

Every once in a while, Khoshkhesh made a terrible racket and turned to look with yearning amber eyes at my bottle of Passport Scotch. So I gave him a little sip which speeded him up and decidedly mellowed his vile temper.

***The colour of Khoshkehesh’s eyes reminds me of Passport Scotch with its mellow fires.

We were on our way to the temple of Queen Hatsheput who as ‘son of the sun’ wore a beard when Khoshkhesh got distracted. What I saw was a Bedouin bandit masked in a blue turban, and carrying an ancient rifle.

What Khoshkhesh saw was a tall, lithe and gorgeous she-camel. With a great below, Khoshkhesh gave chase. And what a chase it was! Sand flying, Khoshkhesh snorting, the bandit howling!

The bandit kept glancing backwards with terror at my bottle of Passport Scotch.

Willy-nilly we followed the bandit into the ruins of Thebes. He finally dismounted and disappeared behind some rocks, leaving his camel to the mercy of Khoshkhesh who proceeded to behave as all great lovers do.

***I can never get over how opening a bottle of Passport Scotch frees my spirit of adventure. And what a cap! A Guala one-way valve to be exact! You can only pour out, never pour in, so you know no one can replace the Scotch with anything else!

Passport Scotch From Seagram Goes Places - Copywriting Ideas From Brand Names
Passport Scotch From Seagram Goes Places - Copywriting Ideas From Brand Names | Source

Resigning myself to my fate, I gave Khoshkhesh free rein and opening the bottle took a sip. The bandit, who was peeping at me from behind the rocks, burst into laughter. He rolled all over the sand, pointing at my bottle.

Then he threw his rifle towards me, indicating that I should do the same with my precious Passport Scotch.

What a dilemma! What if the bandit had another primitive weapon hidden away in his voluminous robes? On the other hand, what if it were just a ploy to separate me from my Passport?

***With each sip I reveled in my choice of a whisky that boasts a higher proportion of famous Scotch single malts than many other blends.

However, discretion being the better part of valour, I decided to let him have it (after all, if one must civilize the natives, what smoother way to do it than with Passport Scotch?).

But the wily Khoshkhesh would have none of it. In a trice, love forsaken, he galloped for the bottle, picked it up with his lethal yellow teeth, and was off. And so was I.

As we rested beside the towering Sphinx, and I raised a toast to it, Khoshkhesh gave me a look that said: “Surely I deserve some too!” I gave him a sip. He actually became quite human. In fact, he grinned at me foolishly.

As I opened my ‘Offbeat Traveler’s Guide’ to choose my next destination, I heard a voice over my shoulder say: “Have Passport, will travel!”


The copywriter should never ignore the potential of a brand name. Focusing on the brand name makes the product memorable for the consumer and builds its personality.

Note: This was an account pitch and a huge panel of decisions makers made it impossible for my creative to go through, but it was a hit with the client nevertheless, as well as with my agency Ogilvy & Mather Direct.

Today Passport Scotch is handled by Ogilvy & Mather and the travel idea still defines the brand. The ads have with headlines such as:

Lucky Americans.

You pay less to go first class.


The action is where you are


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