In January, Campari launched its annual calendar for 2017, with the evocative title, Red Diaries. This time, each month of the anticipated calendar features not just a masterful mixologist with an original Campari cocktail, but a YouTube video story told in the form of a diary. The red cherry that tops it off is the short film, Killer in Red, directed by renowned Italian director, Paolo Sorrentino, and starring Clive Owen. The film follows a mixologist who creates cocktails for people’s personalities—but the story turns into a bit of a mystery, taking a slightly hazy, and definitely bittersweet, twist.
Paste caught up with Dave Karraker, Vice President, Engagement & Advocacy for Campari America, to chat about Campari’s campaign, and the link between movies and mixology.
Paste: How did the idea for the Red Diaries campaign come about?
Dave Karraker: The Campari Red Diaries represents an evolution of the iconic printed Campari Calendar that we had been doing for quite some time. With digital media and video bigger than ever before, we felt it was the perfect time to add a fresh, digital perspective to the campaign. The Campari Red Diaries embodies the richness of storytelling, alongside the medium of film, to channel the contemporary edge and versatility which has been key to the brand’s success; adapting and embracing current times and evolving trends to offer something with a fresh twist for Campari lovers. For past Campari Calendars, we have worked with some real luminaries such as Penelope Cruz, Salma Hayek, Kate Hudson, Mario Testino and many more. This year was no exception as we brought in Clive Owen and Paolo Sorrentino to help us in the re-imaging of the Calendar project.
Paste: How were the mixologists chosen, and what guidelines were they given?
DK: We were fortunate enough to work with some of the most respected global bartenders on this project, including the legendary Julie Reiner who represented the United States. Our selection of mixologists was made with versatility in mind, while also reflecting our appreciation for the creativity and inspiration shared on a global scale by those involved. Each country was able to nominate an innovative, adventurous and compelling bartender from their market who they felt best represented the brand. The richness and diversity of the different characters, paired with their unique backgrounds and nationalities, all contributed to make each and every cocktail story distinctive, allowing consumers to truly immerse themselves in Campari Red Diaries as each tale unfolds. The only guidelines given to the bartenders were that their cocktails needed to evoke a story. They needed to draw the drinker (and the viewer) in with a truly compelling taste, look and essence that could be translated visually on screen. Of course, they also had to include Campari!
Paste: Federico Fellini did an ad for Campari, and Campari’s ads have a history of being visually impressive. How would you describe the history of Campari’s aesthetic in advertisement?
DK: Coming from Milan, a European hub for creativity and artistic vision, Campari has long celebrated its historic artistic connections through advertising. In fact, Davide Campari, the family member credited with building the ground-breaking marketing for the Campari brand, is also credited for revolutionizing full color posters as advertisements by using famous artists and celebrities of the day to create them. Since then, Campari’s advertising – as well as the limited-edition art labels that have adorned Campari bottles in years past – has highlighted cultural art movements as well as modern interpretations. Our aesthetic has always been of quality and intrigue, but the style of our advertising has been shaped by the particular period and the artists we have chosen to interpret the brand. Since we have been around for more than 150 years, you can imagine that style has evolved dramatically over time.
Paste: What are the similarities between the vastly different art forms of filmmaking and mixology?
DK: Both films and mixology have the ability to tell compelling stories. Just as you can have a tragic movie with cinematic flair, you can have a bitter cocktail with a dash of something sweet (like a perfect Bittersweet Negroni with Campari!). Just like filmmakers, mixologists leave a bit of their history and personality in each piece of art, or cocktail, they create. Creating a cocktail recipe is no different than creating a script. You figure out the story you want to tell—the senses you want to excite—and you then put the pieces together to achieve that emotion.
Paste: How does character inform cocktail ingredients?
DK: Campari Red Diaries aims to bring to life the ethos that “every cocktail tells a story.” Behind every cocktail lies the story that inspired its creation, introducing viewers to the magic behind the formation of a year-long series of Campari cocktails month on month, while placing the culture of mixology and its many facets center-stage. Cocktail ingredients are often times a time capsule of the creator’s life experiences. Where they have been, what they have tasted, and what they have seen, not only develops their own personal character, but the character of everything they create, including cocktails.
Paste: In cinematography, red is one of the most difficult colors to yield, but very powerful and symbolic. How did Sorrentino use Campari’s tone of red in the film?
DK: The “Campari Red” shade is evident in flashes of color throughout the film, but always in a way that makes an impact. It beckons the eye and draws your attention. From dramatic uses of the color in the Lady in Red’s costume to touches of red in cocktails and scenery, the tone was used throughout the film to keep Campari and the iconic red shade at the forefront to make you feel something when it is onscreen.
Check out the gallery for the cocktails created by mixologists from around the world that made it into the final Campari calendar. Video profiles of each cocktail and its creator can be found in these videos, directed by Ivan Olita.
And check out the full Killer In Red short here.