Why this is interesting right now: Armenian folkloric culture is being expressed digitally through a major brand name to a Russian audience across the web.
Amsterdam Worldwide is unveiling its first work for Pernod Ricard with the reinvention of Ararat – a legend and institution in the world of discerning brandy drinkers, I’m led to believe, and a household name in Russia and Eastern Europe.
Targeting Russians and Eastern Europeans in their home countries as well as Armenian and Russian communities internationally, the centerpiece of the first work is a 15-minute short film directed by the award-winning Shammasian Brothers. ‘Akhtamar’ is a modern day re-telling of a classic Armenian legend of unrequited love.
Akhtamar is set in Armenia and draws on the brandy’s heritage to inspire a new audience to become Ararat ambassadors and champion authentic legends.
The original “Legend of Akhtamar” features an Armenian princess (called Tamar) who lives on Akhtamar Island in Lake Van (in historic Armenia). She was in love with a commoner who would swim from the mainland to the island each night, guided by her candle light. One day her father found out and was very upset. That night, as Tamar held the flickering beacon, he took it from her and smashed it, leaving the boy lost in the middle of the lake. It is said that his dying cries of “Akh, Tamar” (“Oh, Tamar”) can be heard to this day at night.
The short movie
Amsterdam Worldwide’s re-interpretation opens with stunning shots of the Armenian landscape, and features a young Muscovite (Grigory Dobrygin) who travels to Armenia to meet his girlfriend (Ravshana Kurkova) with a heavy heart at the impossibility of their love.
On his journey he encounters a taxi driver (Armen Dzhigarkhanyan) who, sensing his state of mind, draws the reluctant Grigory into conversation, and during their night-time drive through Yerevan recounts the legend of Akhtamar.
Armenian born actor Armen Dzhigarkhanyan is one of the most recognisable faces in the Soviet and Armenian film industries, having starred in more than 200 films. Akhtamar also features two emerging young talents, Ravshana Kurkova, winner of Best Actress at the International Film Festival of the CIS, and former Bolshoi Theatre pupil, Grigory Dobrygin.
Stephen Hilton wrote the film score. Hilton has worked on movies such as Ocean’s 11 and Quantum of Solace. The world famous Armenian ‘duduk’ (woodwind instrument) player Djivan Gasparyan also contributed.
The film, is the first in a series, and is supported by a print and outdoor campaign designed to generate awareness and direct audiences to a campaign microsite (www.ararat-legends.com), where they can watch the film and learn more about the modern relevance of Armenian legends.
Outdoor and print campaign
World-renowned photographer Erwin Olaf shot a series of posters and print executions with backdrops of Akthamar Island and Mount Ararat. These will appear in business, lifestyle and in-flight magazines including Maxim, Kommersant Daily and OK!.
The microsite (www.ararat-legends.com) will be seeded with a social media and blogger outreach campaign crafted to create intrigue, relevance and notoriety about the film and its stars internationally. The campaign will target film, culture and art audiences globally. An online PR campaign will generate grass root discussion and buzz.
Brian Elliott, founder and chief executive of Amsterdam Worldwide, said: “The ‘Legend of Akhtamar’ campaign marks a new beginning for the Ararat brand, underlining Ararat’s leading position as the Armenian brandy and taking the brand beyond the competitive and category conventions by investing in long-form story telling.”
Richard Gorodecky, executive creative director, of Amsterdam Worldwide, said: “This is a huge platform for Ararat that goes well beyond traditional communications and engages a real cultural dialogue.”
Well worth tracking to see how it fares over the short and medium terms – and to see what the shareholder return is! After all, we know (courtesy of the lovely Laurel Papworth) of the ROI of not doing anything in the social space (what Laurel smartly calls the ‘Risk of Inaction’); we know what Hugh MacLeod did for Stormhoek wines in the early days of ’05, but can SocMed still ‘deliver’ value amongst the noise? I think so, but let’s all watch and see…