In this personal project, I experiment with the rebranding of Buckfast tonic wine to align the brand with its newly attributed symbolic status in the underground music subculture; a status attributed to the brand by a selection of high-profile Scottish DJs.
Originally produced for medicinal use by the monks of Buckfast Abbey, Buckfast has been linked to over 10,500 crime reports in Scotland since 2018.
‘Nutritional Slumming’ - Food whose enjoyment stems not from flavour but from a complex mixture of class connotations, nostalgia signals, and packaging semiotics." (Coupland, 1991)
I have tailored the new brand identity to the nutritional slumming group's perception of the brand - a group mainly formed of aspiring DJs and underground party-going members of the bourgeoisie seeking to embody its semiotics.
The label layout aligns with the medical origins of tonic wine, whilst Pangram Pangram Foundry's typeface 'Editorial New' was selected for the logotype to evoke nostalgia and play on the headline grabbing notoriety of the product.
The line art is inspired by the grooves of vinyl records, a PVC disk that is considered the purest platform for performance within this industry. The curvature is informed by selected rhythmic peaks and troughs within a series of tracks and live mixes from Jasper James, Dennis Sulta and Jackmaster. These tracks are identified on the back of the bottle allowing the consumer to identify design and subcultural authenticity.
The pixilated pattern is inspired by the current label and intends to reflect the removal of identity within the underground music scene. The bottles are paired within a brown paper bag featuring the pattern, enabling the bourgeoisie to conceal their purchase until behind closed doors.
The label colour is to be rotationally informed by the palette of the pixelated brand pattern, and the line art will continue to evolve with the music associated with the brand. Each square label forms a part of the pattern, establishing a diverse lattice connected by music, which in turn seeks to reflect with Buckfast's newly formed consumer group.
Part of the research process involved interviewing a selection of DJs and festival owners from Scotland. Tom Ketley, the owner of Fly Open Air – a boutique ten thousand capacity festival based in Edinburgh - outlined that he recently gifted all the performing DJs at the most recent festival a personalised bottle of Buckfast with their faces on it.
"It went down a storm, everyone loved it, and it got loads of love on social media as it has become 'the Scottish drink' that touring DJs will always ask about when they come here… On the flip side, I have seen some toffee Edinburgh DJs who were never in a young team and never drank Buckfast outwith the time they asked mummy to buy them it to look cool"
Tom Ketley, Owner, Fly Open Air
"Yes, I'd actually say nowadays Buckfast has an association with underground electronic music, especially genres like techno and drum n bass. I actually believe this came about due to it being cool to be crusty with the current generation of clubbers"
Simon Bays, DJ & Owner, Alien Communications
“If I have drunk Buckfast at times in recent years, what may have attracted me is the nostalgia factor and the memory of it making me feel a little hyper and right up for a party.”
Kieran Apter, DJ & Owner, CB90 Dance Recordings
Ketley, Apter and Bays all state that they believe notorious Glasgow DJs such as Jackmaster, Jasper James, Dennis Sulta and Dixon Avenue Basement Jams have championed the development of Buckfast from a product associated with crime and desperation to a symbolic product within the Scottish underground music scene. The artists often consume the drinks whilst performing live, with all those interviewed stating they have personally witnessed it. Bays and Apter identify that DJs primarily consume it at underground clubs across Edinburgh and Glasgow, whilst the bourgeoisie drink the beverage at after-parties. This research informed the new strapline 'Fuelling rhythmic indulgence since 1880'.