Cocktail Art: Bombay Sapphire Sensory Auction Inspires Creative Pairing

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This original artwork by sculptor Dan Lam served as the focus of the Sensory Auction.

Bombay Sapphire disrupted the art scene with its first-ever Sensory Auction held on Oct. 19 in New York City’s Lume Studios. Part of the brand’s Stir Creativity platform, the activation offered art lovers the opportunity to bid on an original piece of art by contemporary sculptor artist Dan Lam—not with dollars, but with their emotional sensory response to viewing the creation.

The auction took place on International Gin and Tonic Day with a goal of inspiring creativity and bringing design to life. Bombay Sapphire accomplished its marketing goal by crafting a new Dan & Tonic signature cocktail inspired by Dan Lam’s sculpture. The artwork is a layering of materials reflecting the different ingredients of the Bombay and tonic cocktail. White swirls in the piece mimic tonic water, blue streaks represent the Bombay Sapphire bottle and spike accents recall the complex ingredients used to distill Bombay Sapphire gin.

fx-soundfx-press-nyc-v01-06-2021_teaserMore Art-Centric Activations:

The Dan & Tonic is made with Bombay Sapphire gin, Fever-Tree lemon tonic and edible blackberry resin that guests were invited to stir into the drink’s balloon glass that accentuates the flavor profile. A second cocktail, The Muse, was also on the menu as a mix of Bombay Sapphire gin and Fever-Tree Mediterranean tonic topped with lemon and rosemary garnish.

“For us, the focus is on creativity as an outlet,” says Jaime Keller, brand director-North America for Bombay Sapphire. “The creative community, like many others, was deeply impacted by the pandemic, so the focus is now on more intimate events and artists who need more support than ever. Art is an important purpose for us, and it can also extend to other industries and categories.”

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Experience design elements at the event included quotes from Lam projection-mapped onto the venue’s walls.

Bombay Sapphire’s collaboration with Dan Lam was also an extension of the brand’s global Senses Stirred campaign that launched in September to encourage consumers to view a Bombay and tonic as more than just a cocktail. The brand positioned the classic drink as a creative experience that, when made with Bombay Sapphire, is capable of evoking all five senses.

The auction was also a powerful force behind democratizing art by making it more accessible to fans with, not the largest pocketbooks, but the greatest creative passion. Bidders signed up for individual time slots to visit the gallery and be fitted with state-of-the-art neuro-aesthetic technology to measure their subconscious sensory reactions while viewing the artwork. As soon as the sculpture was unveiled, electrodes measured brainwaves, skin galvanic response technology detected perspiration and eye-tracking devices measured focus and engagement to determine the most passionate collector. The top bidder was invited to meet the artist and enjoy the signature cocktail.

Leveraging technology, Bombay Sapphire achieved its marketing strategy of getting consumers to embrace their unique self-expression. Targeting a diverse audience of creativity lovers, the brand extended the life of its Senses Stirred global campaign by transforming it into an activation that offered consumers the unique opportunity to play with their senses.

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Art bidders were fitted with neuro-aesthetic technology to measure their subconscious sensory reactions to the artwork.

“The renowned visual language of the sculpture helped elevate the flavor profiles of the Bombay cocktail,” says Keller. “From a creative lens, Bombay’s flavor profile really resonated with [Dan Lam’s] creative process. It all comes back to creating authentic connections with people and inspiring creativity in everyone.”

The Sensory Auction is part of a 360-degree marketing approach focused on effectiveness, efficiency and engagement to win consumer hearts and minds. Experiential allowed Bombay Sapphire to promote creativity after the pandemic’s pause on many creative outlets, and it also helped the brand lead with purpose by amplifying emerging and underrepresented artists. Select restaurants and bars near Lume Studios will feature the Dan & Tonic on menus, and an event recap will be distributed across website and social media channels.

Agencies: BBDO New York (creative); The Experiential Group (experiential); Volvox Labs (technology); Patrick Shillenn / Route 10 (artist curator); BBDO Studios (production); Janet Eisenberg (casting); Wax Editorial (content); Sonic Union (a/v).

See the Sensory Auction in Action:

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Cocktail Art: Bombay Sapphire Sensory Auction Inspires Creative Pairing