Blog: Friends to die for
Chris Mercer | 9 June 2010
View from Laphroaig distillery, Islay. Photo: Chris Mercer
Laphroaig is probably creating envy in the Scotch whisky world and beyond by making a success of its online community.
Every company wants an online community in this 'MyFace' age, but few can pull it off.
More often than not, one imagines, marketeers are left to create buzz on comment pages, their true affiliations cloaked by pseudonyms.
This is why Laphroaig stands out.
The Scotch whisky distiller gathered a few "important trade journalists" (their words, not mine...) to a dinner at London's self-proclaimed oldest restaurant last night for a catch-up.
Master distiller Robert Hicks announced that the Friends of Laphroaig on- and off-line community has reached 400,000 members. It even has a member in Iraq.
As one company representative, who shall remain nameless, then quipped: "Diageo would kill for that."
So would a fair few others, I'd wager. Laphroaig got in the game early - 1994 - and has offered its members concrete benefits such as first dibs on new releases and also reduced prices.
They also get a square foot of land on Islay, where the whisky is distilled. (I should confess my interests now and say that I, too, have a square foot of land on the island courtesy of you-know-who.)
That bias aside, Laphroaig has laid a benchmark that others must try and emulate.
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