Is ‘Sing With The Four Roses Society’ the all-time greatest piece of content marketing?

When I have one too many drinks I encounter a very specific problem. For reasons I cannot explain, and despite not supporting Liverpool, I take great pleasure in singing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as loudly as my lungs can muster.

Whether it’s with confused people in a pub, sitting with my flatmate after a night out or as a Whatsapp voice note to my friend Sam, my drink addled brain can’t help but kick into action – ‘When you waaaaalk…’

But I’m not alone when it comes to enjoying a sing song after a tipple.

Take a look at this guy singing Karaoke. Take a look at David Brent in The Office. Take look at these guys during the prohibition.

The point is, drinking and singing go hand in hand.

It was this insight that unpinned the fantastic ‘Four Roses…The sociable drink’ campaign that was launched in 1958 and led to possibly the greatest piece of content of all time.

The first ad of the campaign introduces the ‘Four Roses Society’ – a social club for those with a particular affinity to the brand, which came complete with its own pin badge, English bulldog guardian and mascot named Sociable Bill IV.

The second ad in the series went one step further in asking readers to get involved with the society. Those smart marketers over at Four Roses had come up with their own jaunty song and used the next run of print ads as a song sheet so people could gather around the piano and belt it out after a few drams.

So popular was the song and their approach that they went on to launch an actual album called ‘Sing with the Four Roses Society’ (I believe there was also a Christmas album.)

Is this the greatest piece of content marketing of all time? I think it’s genius because I challenge anyone to listen to this and not want to get together around a piano and drink too many glasses of Four Roses.

The Four Roses Society remained at the heart of ‘The Sociable Drink’ campaign for many years and the group remains today as the ‘Mellow Moments Club’. Sadly it’s fully subscribed, but we are waiting for them to drop a new album anytime soon (we can only wish).

What, I ask you hear, can we learn from this?

Start with a real human insight – Four Roses could easily have talked about the quality of their product, their history or anything else that the competition were talking about. But they knew drinking was about getting together, having a good time and singing.

Run press ads that people actually want to read – Howard Luck Gossage was the master of this. Creating ads that were actually entertaining to read or, even better, could be used by the reader. You don’t see a lot of this anymore.

Use your content to build a community – And this doesn’t mean setting up a LinkedIn group. Setting up a LinkedIn group is not building a community. Create content that brings people together, have a theme that ties all your content together and make its aim for people to love your brand.

Huge thanks to @Faris who spotted this in the first place and also to the very kind person who runs the twitter page at The Four Roses who did some digging in the archives for us.

If you enjoyed this, you can read others in the ‘Greatest piece of content marketing of all time?’ series. This one is about the Guinness Book of Records. This one is about The Michelin Guide.