Responses by Shannon Long, creative director; and David Hildebrand, associate creative director, Telegraph Creative.
Background: Born from experience living in the Panamanian jungle, Hatton Smith, the creator of Campesino Rum, pours the spirit of the jungle right into the bottle. When we set out to build the website, our goal was to capture Smith’s journey and illustrate it for the user, highlighting the raw authenticity of the rum while conveying the feeling of living off the wildland. Our target audience for Campesino’s website was both potential distributors and adult consumers, ages 21 to 40. Keeping both audiences in mind, we struck a balance of entertainment, engagement and information, while communicating the authenticity of the brand through every component of the site.
Brand design: The website was created as an accompanying element to the overarching campaign for Campesino Rum. We built Campesino’s story into a robust brand where every element has meaning and purpose. For example, our photography is less stylized and more organic, focusing on real moments and scenarios that highlight adventure and exploration. As the go-to place for everything one needs to know about the brand, we wanted the website to feel like an extension of the campaign where the user is on a journey that begins with Smith’s story and guides them down the page and through the site to define their own journey.
Core features: Overall, we wanted every touchpoint of the site to be a way for the user to experience the Panamanian jungle the way Smith did. “Smith explained to us in a discovery session how thick the fog was when he worked as a tour guide in the Panamanian jungle, and that at numerous occasions, he had come in close contact with jaguars,” says creative director Shannon Long. “Trying to bottle his experience, we instilled those story elements into the website—down to the age-gate screen. Moving the mouse around the screen begins to wipe away the mist, revealing the jaguar and snake hiding in the greenery of the jungle.”
Associate creative director David Hildebrand adds: “We wanted the design to make the user feel like they are in the middle of a jungle, on a journey to discover mysterious rum. Moving through the website and the shifting fog is like moving through layers of the jungle, from the canopy to the roots.”
Challenges: The most challenging aspect was configuring the logic behind the test wherein users select cards with certain traits aimed at pointing them toward a Panamanian animal they can identify with—sort of a choose-your-own-adventure game, but with rum. This was inspired by a card game Smith played while in Panama and the stories told of spirits in the form of animals roaming the jungle at night. From there we developed a brand strategy to create “animal spirits” the user could identify with, as well as personifying the products with those spirits: the jaguar for Aged Rum, and the snake for Silver Rum. The test brings this concept to life, matching consumers with an animal spirit and pairing them with a rum and rum-based drink.
Favorite details: “The element I’m most proud of is the brand itself because we made sure to take a holistic approach from day one in every execution,” says Long. “The website is one piece of the puzzle that displays that well. Each detail has a purpose and meaning, creating intentional web design that is also beautiful to look at. Design in action—getting the user involved in a way that creates an instant emotional connection with the brand.”