‘An important opportunity against a competitive backdrop’: 150th anniversary for Jack Daniel’s can draw in new consumers, says Brown-Forman

Jack Daniel's is sold in 165 countries. Pic: iStock

The Jack Daniel Distillery celebrates its 150th anniversary this year, and Brown-Forman sees the milestone as an opportunity to promote its flagship brand in a competitive market where craft is in vogue and ‘small is cool.’  

Brown-Forman CEO Paul Varga says “it’s hard out there right now for established brands,” but the anniversary will help share the Jack Daniel’s story with both new and existing consumers.

‘Big is bad, and small is cool’

Jack Daniel’s is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee, and is produced at America’s oldest registered distillery. Since being founded by Jasper ‘Jack’ Daniel the distilling process has remained largely unchanged: still made, says the brand, “with the same process pioneered and perfected by Mr. Jack himself.” 

Promotions for Jack Daniel’s 150th anniversary have already started, but efforts will be stepped up in the second half of the year.

“It’s really important as an opportunity for Jack Daniel’s against a competitive backdrop where there is everything from craft whiskies and bourbons out there, to some of these trends where big is bad, and small is cool, and all of that,” said Varga, speaking in the earnings call for Brown-Forman’s FY2016 results this week.

Craft spirits

Craft spirits now account for 1 in 7 spirit launches worldwide, according to Mintel. Craft whisk(e)y and craft gin are the most popular offers in the category.

“I feel this is a really important opportunity for Jack Daniel’s to tell its authentic story in compelling ways which will go way beyond calendar year 2016.

“It’s hard out there right now for established brands and we’ve largely been continued to be successful against that backdrop, but this gives us a really unique opportunity... to tell our story.

“And it’s a story that should fit beautifully with why people are choosing American whiskies today, and drinking whiskey generally. So it’s just a great opportunity for the press to get out and tell that.”

The yearlong celebration includes a celebration event in Lynchburg in October, commemorative 150th anniversary bottles, renovations and new facilities at the Jack Daniel distillery, and closing bell ringing and anniversary reception at the New York Stock Exchange.

The anniversary promotions will also be carried out through social media and mass media, added Varga.

'True global icon'

“Today, Jack Daniel’s is a true global icon found in 165 countries worldwide, revered for its individual character & authenticity,” says the brand.

“In a world where change is a constant, it's an incredible achievement to be making whiskey in the same way, in the same place, after 150 years.”

“The public relations piece of this, which is more significant than in past years, will also expose it to larger populations of people,” he added.

Tennesse Fire rolls out to new markets

Brown-Forman reported its FY2016 results this month. The company’s underlying net sales growth was led by the Jack Daniel’s family, up 6% (-1% reported).

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey grew underlying net sales by 4% (-1% reported). Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey grew underlying sales by 9% (0% reported), powered by strong growth outside of the US.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire had ‘a great first full year of results’ in the US, contributing roughly one point to the company’s underlying growth.

Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and Fire depleted a combined 1.9m cases worldwide.

In fiscal 2017, Brown-Forman is rolling out Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire to additional markets including the UK, Germany, and Australia. 

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