Pink Key Licensing’s Richard Pink discusses what the Pan Am brand stands for… And why gin fits the bill!

Richard Pink reveals how Pink Key Licensing and Silent Pool Distillers made Pan Am gin a reality

Welcome back, Richard. You’ve just brought a new company to my attention… Silent Pool Distillers. I might invite them to do an interview themselves, but – in the meanwhile – what have you done with them?
We’re developing Pan Am gin and vodka in 70cl and one-litre bottles and gift packs – which look amazing! There are also plans to expand into more product…

Such as?
Such as pre-mixed cocktails, for example. They’ll be sold globally, initially in Duty Free and independents – but we expect it to get some bigger listings as we progress.

Are there any other partners involved?
Nope – it’s us, Pan Am and Silent Pool!

And from your point of view, then, how did this come about?
From the day I took on the Pan Am licence, I wanted to do a gin. The guys in the US had also been looking for a long time, so we set ourselves a challenge to contact anyone we could think of who made it…

Richard Pink, Pink Key Licensing
Literally anyone who made gin?

Literally! And we called them all; I mean every single one!

Well, at the very end of the challenge, Silent Pool said they were interested. They understood what we wanted and they could see exactly what could be done with brand. Of course, it kind of helped that the MD’s dad used to be the European Marketing Director for – you guessed it – Pan Am!

Really? Was that just a happy coincidence, then?
Some would say that’s a happy coincidence, yes… But it never would have happened if we hadn’t put the leg work in. The great irony is that the actual Silent Pool was a local tourist attraction for me when I was a kid that I visited long before there was a distillery there.

Richard Pink, Pink Key Licensing
Right. The Silent Pool – for those that don’t know it – is a small, very serene lake in a leafy part of England. It gets its name from being eerily quiet all the time; no bird song, no breeze in the trees. It’s very picturesque; very pretty. And the distillery is now nearby…

So let me ask you this, Richard: you’ve worked with the Pan Am licence for some time. What criteria are you looking for when you consider opportunities? What’s their brand all about?
Their brand is all about the glamour of a bygone age – one when it wasn’t a pain in you-know-what to fly! It’s all about style and lifestyle… So more than anything else, we want licensees that understand the heritage of such a great brand and that can develop products that demonstrate this.

Got it – and yes, it does has a glamorous feel, doesn’t it? Flying always seems more sophisticated when associated with Pan Am. And in what way does a range of Pan Am spirits tick the boxes, then?
Think ‘cocktails on a plane’, think Mad Men, think Leo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can… And The Beatles arriving at JFK! When you think of these things you’re invoking a spirit of a past glamour and style – when you think like that the Gin and Vodka are an obvious fit.

Richard Pink, Pink Key Licensing
A spirit of glamour and glamorous spirits! Tell me a little about how you work, Richard… Obviously, you have clients whom you represent – but do you go out and about looking for opportunities? Do people tend to come to you? Or is it a mix of both?

Definitely a mix. You can never sit on your laurels and expect business to walk in the door! It’s a competitive market, and we’re constantly looking for new partners. Sometimes we do get lucky, of course, and people approach us who just “get it”…

But even then it’s because we’ve never been shy about talking about what we do. With the type of brands we have, we have a strong message – people know what we stand for, and I think that really helps

Great answer. And once that initial contact’s been made, what’s the process? How do you work out which ideas you should pursue?
That’s a collaboration – the licensee in the initiator, but we try as much as we can to guide them. Nancy – Nancy Jones – has a phenomenal eye and instinct for what works, and what our brands accept, even if they do surprise us sometimes! But when it’s worthwhile, we also get the brand involved in the process as it makes it a lot easier for the licensees to understand.

Makes absolute sense. Well, look – we need to wrap this up, Richard, but I want to thank you for your time and for showing me the gin. The bottle is just stunning… Empty, I can’t help but notice, but stunning!
Yes, sorry about that. BLE was a long show!

Richard Pink, Pink Key Licensing
Ha! I can believe it! Alright, let me finish off by asking you this: what’s the one question I could’ve asked you today but didn’t?

Which brand are we going to take on next?

Terrific! What’s the answer?
We don’t know!

Oh. Good job I didn’t ask…
We’d love an alcohol brand to licence, but it will have to be a brand with a story. We’d like a brand like that; we’ll love it, and we’ll want to keep it in our portfolio forever.

Well – there it is! A clarion call for still more booze! Thank you, Richard; great products – let’s speak again soon.

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