“Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can” - Vineet Agrawal, Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent and Maldives, Brown-Forman Worldwide
In 1866, exactly 150 years ago, Jasper “Jack” Daniel had the foresight to place his distillery at a source of iron-free water flowing from a cave spring in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Today, the quiet town in Tennessee still produces every single drop of the world’s Jack Daniel’s, proof that mastering a craft with a focus on quality can propel a brand beyond borders and cultures. The year 2016 truly marks a landmark year for Jack Daniel’s as the distillery celebrates its 150th anniversary and as part of the celebrations, Jack Daniel’s is looking forward to delighting its fans all over the world in some very special ways.
One of their most recent initiative has been the ‘The Jack Daniel’s Barrel Hunt’, which launched globally on July 1, is now coming to India and Mumbai is among 150 cities worldwide to feature in the first-ever worldwide whiskey barrel hunt. In an exclusive conversation with BW Applause, Vineet Agrawal, Head of Marketing, Indian Subcontinent and Maldives, Brown-Forman Worldwide shares more about the worldwide barrel hunt and the experiential marketing initiatives planned around it in India.
Q- What are the celebrations and experiential marketing initiatives planned around it in India?
A- Headlining the celebrations will be the first-ever worldwide whiskey barrel hunt – the ‘Jack Daniel’s Barrel Hunt’, that will unite Friends of Jack across the world. The other planned initiatives include limited edition bottles, themed on-ground events, special duty free promotions and social media outreach among other initiatives. We are also bringing an immersive 360-degree virtual reality (VR) experience that takes fans on a tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery in celebration of the 150th anniversary. This new technology is a way for us to celebrate the Jack Daniel Distillery with fans everywhere and bring them closer to Lynchburg.
Q- Tell us more about the worldwide barrel hunt?
A- Every drop of Jack Daniel’s ever enjoyed was once inside a barrel handmade at the distillery. That means every story, every personal experience, and every instance of Jack Daniel’s in pop culture all started from the same source: the distillery and its barrels. In celebration of the 150th anniversary, we’ll feature these barrels in a global scavenger hunt where 150 of them will be hidden around the world. In searching for these barrels, both loyal and occasional drinkers from all over the world will have a way to participate in the distillery’s century and a half of influence.
The #Jacks150 activation gives us an engaging and fun way to celebrate the distillery’s 150th year and elevate a global conversation about Jack Daniel’s. From July through September, 150 handcrafted whiskey barrels are being hidden in various regions across the globe at historic and cultural sites. The first Barrel Hunt took place at the home of the distillery in Lynchburg on July 1 and will visit more than 50 countries in 90 days. We’re excited that three of these barrels are coming to India and will be hidden at secret locations in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. Clues and the password tied to the hidden location of the barrel will be provided on the Jack Daniel’s Facebook page and the barrels will be opened when the first person to arrive touches the barrel and speaks the correct barrel password.
Each hidden barrel in the scavenger hunt has been handcrafted from the distillery and used to mature Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey before being specially fabricated for the Barrel Hunt to house prizes, including an original, one-of-a-kind bar kit made with white oak from the barrels. Barrel Hunt winners will also receive the authentic Jack Daniel’s barrel they found along with prizes tailored to each region that participates in the Barrel Hunt.
Q- Share with us one of the most interesting experiential campaigns of Jack Daniels in the past?
A- Mr. Jack Daniel's Birthday is celebrated during the month of September across the world, giving consumers a chance to know and engage with the brand better. I think it is a fantastic and unique platform for our consumers to know more about our heritage and history as even today we follow Mr. Jack’s motto “Every day we make it, we’ll make it the best we can”
Q- Why is India being a key market for Brown-Forman?
A- American Whiskies are seeing a renaissance globally. Consumers choose American Whiskey for the taste, quality and the values that resonate with the category. Some of the key factors driving this growth are the increasing disposable incomes, increasing aspirations amongst over 25 year old consumers to upgrade and increased exposure to global brands. The increasing cocktail culture, premiumisation of the retail environment and the lifestyle of consumers in India add promise for the future for the American whiskey category in India. Industry reports also suggest that American Whiskeys in India have been growing with a CAGR of more than 14% in the last decade, with Jack Daniel’s driving this growth. Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey is the highest selling premium whiskey in the world and we’re confident of replicating our global success here. We are very proud of the popularity that the brand enjoys among consumers in India, making it the most popular American whiskey brand in the country.
Q- How Jack Daniels is trying to enable the American whiskey market to expand and grow in India?
A- We believe the choice of drinking an American Whiskey is more of a lifestyle choice. The well-travelled Indian millennial consumers are not very different than their counterparts across this digitally connected world. As more and more Indians travel the world, they are seeking brands which are authentic and have a legacy of craftsmanship. The Jack Daniel’s trademark is a powerful global brand which sells in more than 160 countries across the world, but every drop is made in Lynchburg, Tennessee which is a town with just two traffic stoplights. We are seeing a lot of millennial consumers choosing American Whiskey as their preferred liquor beverage choice as the versatility and mixability of American Whiskey makes it easy to drink and for them to relate to. We also see a lot of women, who traditionally have shied away from whiskey, now finding a suitable alternative in American Whiskey.
Q- India being a primarily a scotch market, how is Jack Daniels trying to garner growth and market share in India?
A- One of the foremost needs for us is to tell consumers what makes an American Whiskey and Jack Daniel’s special and different to other whiskeys. For example, every drop of Jack Daniel’s is made in Lynchburg Tennessee, the place where Jack Daniel established his distillery in 1866. Jack Daniel’s whiskey is charcoal mellowed, a unique process to Tennessee and the reason why Jack Daniel’s is a Tennessee Whiskey and not Bourbon. Jack Daniel’s whiskey is then matured in brand new American oak barrels crafted at our own cooperages. We’re the only major distiller in the world which still makes our own barrels. All of this is of great interest to our consumers and trade partners.
Music has been one of our key communication platforms globally, helping us take the brand’s core values to our consumers. Not many people know that our relationship with music goes all the way back to our founder Mr. Jack Daniel himself. He knew that good music and good whiskey had a way of bringing people together. To help keep the music going, Jack created his own neighborhood band called the Silver Cornet Band way back in 1892. Today, for a generation of new musicians, Jack Daniel’s continues to be the spirit behind their music.
We also celebrate Jack’s Birthday in India during the month of September as it is done across the world, giving consumers a chance to know and engage with the brand better. In addition to this, the mixability of Jack Daniel’s is a strong platform for us. Jack Daniel’s is a versatile and easily mixable drink and Jack and Cola is one of the most popular bar calls amongst new consumers. It also allows the bartenders to experiment with different cocktails using Jack Daniel’s as the base. To tap into the increasing demand for whiskey cocktails in India, we launched a “Whiskey Cocktails – Made with Jack” festival last year and the response has been very encouraging
Q- What are the future expansion plans?
A- We are constantly looking at ways and means to take our brand to our consumers. We are also looking to ramp up our distribution in terms of geographical expansion and drive availability. The super-premium end of our American Whiskey portfolio was launched in India to cater to the needs of discerning Indian consumers who are constantly seeking newer expressions from our family of brands. We have seen some encouraging results with our premium range which includes Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select and Jack Daniel’s Old No. 27 Gold Tennessee Whiskey.
We have also launched Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and the initial results have been very encouraging. With consumers greatly appreciating its distinctive and rich taste, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey has been a huge worldwide success and is the fastest spirits brand to sell one million cases since its launch. As well as giving our current fans more choice within our family of brands, it will also attract new consumers into the Jack Daniel’s franchise.
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