Terry Bradshaw on taking on Matthew McConaughey in the bourbon arena
Beloved TV personality and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw shares his thoughts about how he built his own personal brand and why he launched his namesake bourbon to compete against his friend Matthew McConaughey.
Bradshaw and Ryan McElveen, COO of The Bradshaw Bourbon Company
Terry Bradshaw has achieved a lot of victories in his life. Four Super bowls, appearances in movies, consistent success as a top TV commentator, country music recordings, horse breeding – you name it. Now he’s looking to win at bourbon — a hot category with many entrants including Bradshaw’s friend Matthew McConaughey.
Bradshaw Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey launched last year and Bradshaw himself has played a big part in getting the liquid, packaging and tone right. It’s so much a part of him, it contains 51.9% alcohol by volume in honor of his completion rating as a quarterback.
Bradshaw has partnered with GrapeStars Entertainment, a joint venture between GrapeStars and Los Angeles creative agency Observatory (formerly part of CAA and now independent thanks to The Stagwell Group.) The venture allows celebrities "to create engaging entertainment content and programming that deepens consumer affinities to the celebrity, their product, and the GrapeStars app retail platform." Other products available include Metallica’s Blackened Whiskey, Avaline Rosé wine from Cameron Diaz, Casamigos Blanca tequila from George Clooney, and nightlife entrepreneur Rande Gerber.
Bradshaw Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey is also available via traditional distribution. The hope is to grow availability throughout the year to compete with the likes of McConaughey’s Longbranch bourbon and others. The Drum caught up with Bradshaw over Zoom while he was in Hawaii. Here’s what he had to say about building his personal brand over the years and his hopes for his new bourbon.
The Drum: Tell our readers about your bourbon.
Terry Bradshaw: I got tired of all the other bourbons. I bounced around and never really found the one I liked. I wanted a bourbon that had a taste that that would capture me but not offend me. I wanted it to have a little bit of a jolt and yet be very calm. And I wanted the taste to never get boring. I have to be honest and tell you, being a celebrity did not enter into the equation. I think Joe Montana would do bigger and better. If Tom Brady came out with a bourbon now, the whole world would jump to buy it. Matthew McConaughey, a buddy of mine, he's got a bourbon, that's fine. That's dandy. But I wanted it to be different. I knew that with my name on it, that may spur some interest. But it'd better damn sure live up to what it's built to do. It's got to be something that stands up when the name comes off it. I wanted this sucker to be fabulous. I said, 'I want a gun smoke whiskey bottle, a long neck smooth bottle — simple. I didn’t want to clutter it up with junk.'
The Drum: Matthew McConaughey can go out in a field in his car and says some stuff and it's like ‘hey there's Matthew McConaughey. Maybe I’ll buy that.’ How will you market it?
Terry Bradshaw: I can do that. I can pull up next to my pig barn, go to the back of my truck and slam it down.
The Drum: I think you should. People like authenticity.
Terry Bradshaw: There is something to me doing that. He’s probably got a Lincoln Continental or a Rolls Royce, sitting on the hood with a shirt unbuttoned with the long hair and tan. And I could go out there and wipe tobacco spit off my lips and say ‘hi, y’all!’
The Drum: Sticking with that theme. You're somebody who is a brand, in and of yourself, and people like you. How did you do that?
Terry Bradshaw: I work hard on being liked. My dad told me 40 or 50 years ago, you carry the Bradshaw name, don't embarrass it. Well, I embarrass it all the time, but I don't discredit the name. The television camera captures you. It puts weight on you. So that's that is unfortunate, but it captures your personality. That is fortunate. And I have never been someone that tries to be something I'm not. I think that's important. I got a country way about me, a simple way about me which relates to 95% of Americans. I mess up a lot. I've accomplished a lot, but I don't take myself seriously. I don't act like I'm special or above people. I just like to talk to people and meet people. I think that generally and generously comes across. I'm approachable. I'm just a guy who has accomplished a lot in his life and I'm just not really impressed with it.
The Drum: Why launch a branded product now?
Terry Bradshaw: I've never branded myself and I'm 72. The only thing I've ever done is raised quarter horses. I've never tried a bourbon, a bar, a restaurant, anything, ever. William Cohen, the former Secretary of Defense, told me one day, ‘You're a big household name. You should brand yourself so that while you're sleeping, you're making money.’ We were in Kosovo. I filed that away. But I didn't quite know how to go about doing that. Maybe I thought it was too much.
The Drum: Is there a brand you respect?
Terry Bradshaw: You were talking about Matthew McConaughey. I love the way he does things. It's easy to be cool like that when you look like that. I have an ad that I've talked about, way before McConaughey’s, where I wanted my three daughters and I to be in a bar with a fireplace. I have a tux on and have Bradshaw bourbon, a cigar and am sitting with my cowboy boots up. I do think brands need to capture you. I see a lot of Shaq on the air now. I love Shaq, because why? He's a big old teddy bear with a big old smile. And I love the Budweiser spots that tug on the heartstrings.
The Drum: You and McConaughey both had Super Bowl spots this year too. How was that?
Terry Bradshaw: I like making people laugh. Everybody said, ‘whoa, you got in boxer shorts to do that Frito-Lay spot. I would have gotten in better shape.’ I said, ‘well you know, the hell, I'm 72. I'm trying.' I just walked four miles today. Did you walk four miles today? It is what it is. I like it to be real. I like smiling, laughing and love the heartstrings approach that Budweiser has. And I love the class of Matthew McConaughey. He's a classy dude.
The Drum: What’s next?
Terry Bradshaw: I was going to travel around the country, but we've only been able to do Zoom meetings with distributors…Several critics voted it one of the top-10 new bourbons. I mean I'm so proud of it and I haven't even really gotten a chance to promote it like I want to. There are lots of places that already can’t keep it in stock. That makes me swell with pride. It's like a baby of mine.
Editor’s note: This interview was edited for length.