THE hip types of Surry Hills should be impressed. The marketing people behind Pernod Ricard's Irish whiskey, Jameson, want them to sip more of the spirit without telling them to do it.
Far from the relentless screaming of conventional marketing techniques blasting brand messages from the rooftops, the Jameson team has defied convention by funding screenwriters to make short films without a brand or product flash in sight.
The folks behind the John Jameson Productions short film project call it "brand-enabled content", as against "brand-funded" content, which usually means a product or brand underwrites production costs in return for overt exposure and endorsement.
The BMW Films project, which turned the advertising world upside down earlier in the decade when it commissioned feature film directors to write and shoot short online films incorporating BMWs in the plot, has inspired scores of similar initiatives around the world.
But Jameson is taking a refreshing tack, aiming at inner-city creative males as part of a broader plan to shift perceptions of the brand from being an old man's drink.
This year 800 writers applied to John Jameson Productions for funding to turn their scripts into short films. There is little chest-beating from the brand or any requirement for the films to incorporate the product and, unsurprisingly, the screenwriters don't. But Jameson is getting kudos for its commitment to filmmaking.
The idea is that you can't flog stuff to these young cultural purists without a brand backlash, so Jameson has turned to "brand benevolence" to prove it's being genuine.
"If we take more than a subtle approach we will switch them off," says Jameson's marketing manager, Michael Lloyd. "So we're just seeding the brand [for them] to discover it. They don't want to be sold to in the standard way. They're on this continual drive for new experiences, which drives their status in their peer groups. But they want to discover, not be sold to, which is why a subtle approach is absolutely key to this."
The idea, hatched in 2007 by the communications agency The Hallway, is paying dividends. Mr Lloyd says Jameson's sales of about $10 million in Australia are up by 15 per cent and "brand advocacy" - those who says they are fans of the product and drink it - is up by 110 per cent.
"We wanted the content to not be a five-minute ad but something people would enjoy watching and appreciate," says The Hallway's managing director, Jules Hall. "Brand content offers you a bit more that a 30-second ad but it has been bastardised somewhat. We wanted to do something a little bit benevolent, quirky and certainly unexpected.
''Screenwriters are often the unsung heroes of the film world. You hear a lot about directors and producers but screenwriters are often left out. They are perfect for what we're trying to do in film."
Moreover, John Jameson Productions is entering last year's inaugural winners in short film festivals around the world and some have been shortlisted for the Berlin Film Festival, among others. Such results are also capturing the attention of Pernod Ricard's global management.
"It's a long-term investment for us,'' Lloyd says, ''which is the only way we will retain credibility."