Here’s to the American Spirit

Jack Daniel’s is an incredibly successful brand.

It’s the world’s 5th largest premium spirits brand and the best selling North American whiskey (about 10m cases a year). Just over 50% of sales are in the U.S. but it’s also exported to over 135 countries across the globe. Perhaps most impressively, even those who would never touch the stuff are aware of Jack Daniel’s and its values. The brand has crossed over into popular culture through films, music, merchandise and the endoresement of some famous fans (such as Frank Sinatra, who was apparently burried with a bottle slipped into his jacket pocket).

Since the 1960s, the brand’s advertising has remained remarkably consistent. Black and white print ads, often showing Jack himself or simple scenes from Lynchburg Tennessee, don’t appear to have been affected at all by the relentless modernisation the rest of the planet is experiencing. And therein lies their charm and power. You know what you’re going to get with Jack Daniel’s. It has become the default choice for those who aspire to the rock and roll, no-nonsense attitude the brand portrays, as well as those who simply can’t think of the names of other whiskies. In many countries, “whisky and coke” has become “JD and coke”.

The latest TV ad further endorses this image. Identifying Jack Daniel’s with an America that creates things “from an independent spirit”. Motorcycles, jeans, the guitar… It will be interesting to see if this image is thrown out by an ambitious new Marketing Director before long. The phrase ‘why change a winning formula’ comes to mind.

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