The story of Giacamo Justerini is that of love-- love and near obsession for renowned opera singer Margherita Bellini. In the year 1749, he decided to leave everything behind and follow her to London to win her over. After a long voyage from Bologna, he awaited Bellini at the gates of Royal Opera with a heart full of angst and hope, only to be turned down by her. The story of Giacamo Justerini is one of unrequited love and a sense of loss that drove him alone and penniless, wandering the streets of a strange city. But little did he know that it was only the beginning.
Justerini had with him a copy of the secret recipe book of his uncle, a master distiller, who crafted exceptional liquor back in Italy, and it is this book that alters the course of his destiny. He may not have won the heart of Margherita Bellini, but he set out to win the heart of every person living in London, before conquering the rest of the world. At this crucial juncture, Bellini introduced Justerini to Samuel Johnson, who in turn introduced him to George Johnson.
By this time, London is on the rise and its people are thirsty for avant-garde. So, for Justerini and George, success came almost easy. A few blends later they became a popular spirit merchant and opened their first store in St. James Street. And it wasn’t by chance that their store was just around the corner of where Royal Opera House stood.
By 1760, Justerini had had enough of London. He sold off his business to George and went back to Italy. Meanwhile, George and his later generations managed business through all the difficult periods in the history of London, starting from the days of riot around 1780 to the Napoleonic wars, until 1830.
Now in the Victorian era, when theatre and opera is at its peak, a young dandy by the name of Alfred Brooks, blessed with a vision and the means to realize that vision ends up in London and starts frequenting the Royal Opera. For a man like Brooks, it was hard to miss the grand Justerini store which was a few yards away from the Royal Opera House. Brooks knew Justerini was the holder of a royal warrant, an honorary title given to the suppliers of the king. Soon he bought the store and renamed it Justerini and Brooks, the famous J&B of today, and build up a discerning clientele over the course of time. In fact, the house of J&B has, till date, preserved several bills of Charles Dickens, charting his increasing popularity and success. Brooks also utilized the era’s greatest invention, the steam engine to take J&B’s spirits beyond the confines of the city in order to conquer the rest of the world.
We could tell you the rest of the fascinating story about the legendary J&B but here’s what we will do instead. We will tell you about J&B’s collaboration with MNSTR, a French agency in order to develop a web series, of 360 degree animated videos documenting the stories of Justerini and Brooks. The videos open with the label of the brand, with an incredible voiceover taking the audience through the streets of London and tracing the evolution of the brand from its birth to the 1920s. The video is constructed in a graphic novel like landscape, using vibrant shades of yellow and red, and is a visual treat. But the best part is the 360 degree VR model which means you can explore different angles of a particular panel. The campaign was rolled out on J&B’s Facebook and YouTube pages, as well as VR headsets, to encourage people with big dreams with a gripping story of entrepreneurship and risk-taking.
The web series is available online, so if you want to know what happens further or simply look into 250 years of history, take a look!