Jack Daniel’s plans to double down on live music activations with Iris appointment
Digital agency to help the Tennessee whiskey brand address challenges posed by cost of living crisis and tough conditions for venues and bars.
Jack Daniel's has picked Iris as its digital agency in the UK
Mainstream premium brands need to find new reasons for consumers to spend a little more, given the depth of the UK’s cost of living crisis. With that in mind, Tennessee whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s has hired digital agency Iris to help it reinforce its market position as the go-to choice for music fans and night owls.
Caroline Lesur, head of UK marketing at Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman, explains the company’s conundrum to The Drum, saying: “We are a premium brand and we will remain a premium brand, so how do we make sure that Jack is a brand worth paying more for?”
The brand’s new digital agency will look to play upon its association with live music and festival culture – both of which are also being hit by rising costs and smaller consumer budgets. Just last month, Glastonbury festival raised its ticket prices to £335.
“The role that Iris put forward for Jack was to help with the cost of socializing and particularly the cost of festivals and enjoying live music,“ says Lesur. “We felt that it carved out a strong role in that value proposition of helping our consumers to enjoy live music again with Jack.”
Meanwhile, Covid had a huge impact on Britain’s hospitality sector and live music venues. Although Jack Daniel’s is the nation’s highest-selling on-trade whiskey, its marketing strategy tied the brand to that struggling arena.
“After Covid and the impact it has had for the hospitality industry, we’re really really keen to go back out there and remind people of the role of Jack in having good times – particularly in the world of music.”
Making it count
Iris’s focus on turning Jack Daniel’s into a “participation brand” that can engage with customers was a key reason for its appointment, notes Lesur. “It’s not just talking at your consumers, it’s also about providing experiences that they can participate in, and we felt that that was a very enticing proposition from Iris.”
The Cheil-owned agency was up against three other shops in a pitch managed by Tuffon Hall Consultancy. Captivate-owned Communicator London previously held the account.
Describing Iris’s approach, its chief client officer Ian Bradbury also links the focus on live music with the cost of living crisis. “It is more important than ever for brands to adopt alternative strategies to avoid adding to the digital landfill,” he says.
While Iris will be bringing its own spin, it’ll be doing so on an existing campaign – the ‘Make It Count’ platform, launched back in 2020.
That campaign, dreamt up by Jack Daniel’s US marketers and Energy BBDO, has hit the mark in Britain, says Lesur. “So far it has been very successful. We’re very, very happy. We’re seeing some positive changes in brand consideration, particularly among people who haven’t drunk Jack in the last 12 months. We’ve invested significantly and that translates into short-term sales as well.”
The next stage, she says, is cementing the campaign so that it translates into sales over the next seven to eight years. “We’re in the third year and this is a very long-term play for us… for the next decade or so. It’s a campaign we’ve committed to across the globe.”
Iris will now steward that campaign for its next three years with a series of ‘music-led activations’, according to Bradbury.
Although the brand has changed horses part-way through that campaign, Lesur says it wasn’t a reflection on Communicator’s record. “It wasn’t the right time to switch to a different agency as we were rolling out… [but] we were keen to find the right partner eventually – we felt like it was needed. It was on the cards, but we never rush into things.”