Walking into the Cocktail Village at Old Spitalfields Market is quite the experience! Not only is the idea of a 'Cocktail Village' my version of nirvana, but the impressive stands set up by brands are a sight to behold!

From chicken shops to pop up pubs, brands (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) have pulled out all the stops in ensuring their customers' experience of the brand is positive and memorable. So, how did they manage this?

1. The roles of promo staff are changing

Obviously, getting your product on a [potential] customer's lips is vital, but sampling no longer appears to be the method of choice for brands. Whilst a couple of the bigger brands (notably Schweppes and Baileys) had teams with trays outside their stalls duly handing out samples of their brands, the smaller brands were the ones to watch. Using their teams to run games, or even serve behind the bar and educate the customers, these brands were engaging people with their stories and products in a more natural way, which resonates well with consumers.

2. How to stand out in the crowd

And what a crowd it was! With so many brands vying for customers' attention, the creativity of brands was showcased in the village. The first one that springs to mind is Captain Morgan's pirate ship bar, complete with a swashbuckling bar team - impactful, and definitely on brand! Japanese Sake brand Akashi-Tai brought a taste of Japanese drinking culture to East London with the help of Shochu Bar, which certainly added a different flavour to the venue. Most brands had noticed the importance of increasing dwell time at their bars by including seating where possible - simple, but a sure way to draw tired, cocktail consuming customers to your stand. 

As always, the brands using social media booths stood out - in the time of the 'Instagram-effect', it is an incredibly clever decision to include an easy-to-operate photo booth at a stand. Not only does it automatically generate content for your social media, but it integrates your brand into a memorable client experience.

Tia Maria, however wins on stand out - offering coffee at a cocktail event? Inspired.

3. Two for the price of one

There were more partnerships in the LCW Village than we've seen before, and not only food and drink pairing - Southern Comfort/Fried Chicken combos and Reyka Vodka/Ice Cream pairings to name a couple - but even bars. We've previously mentioned the Shochu Bar partnership with Aksashi-Tai sake, however Bombay Sapphire teamed up with Cahoots (one of London's quirkiest bars, based in a disused tube station) to promote their 'Grand Tour' campaign. These partnerships allow a lot more brand personality to shine through, and were cleverly thought through by these brands.

4. Soft drinks are upping their game

Not only were their bars some of the most interesting, but soft drinks brands are now on par with spirits in terms of positioning. Call us biased, but Britvic's 'Winking Pig' pub pop up held its own against the spirits brands, and was a fantastic way to announce the launch of the Lifting Spirits Campaign (you can read more about that here)Fever Tree's container bar, with its rooftop garden also helped to demonstrate just how mixer brands are coming into their own, hosting some of the most interesting bars and showing how integral they are to pub and bar life. Watch your backs, spirit brands!