If you haven’t met John Jameson yet, the odds are you will soon. The namesake of the popular Irish whiskey is the centerpiece of a new $14 million campaign that debuted this month. It includes the brand’s first-ever TV ad.
Jameson, which owns about two-thirds of the Irish whiskey category, has been one of the fastest growing premium spirits. Despite the recession, it has grown 25 percent for the 52 weeks ended Sept. 19, per Nielsen. It is driving the category as a whole, which is up 18 percent.
“The brand is at a tipping [point] for becoming one of the industry’s next megabrands,” said Jameson brand director Wayne Hartunian. “We see TV as an opportunity to extend the message to more people. We want to build spontaneous awareness.”
The first spot, “Lost barrel,” features a tell tale about Jameson jumping overboard to retrieve a barrel of his precious liquor. Other TV spots, which are meant to look like scenes from an epic movie, are on the way. The effort replaces the three-year-old “It could just be the taste” ad campaign. TBWA\Chiat\Day is the agency.
“The Jameson family story rich in heritage,” said Hartunian. “We are introducing a unique way to bring the brand to life with a witty personality and authenticity.”
The Pernod Ricard-owned brand will spend up to $14 million behind Jameson during the company’s fiscal year, which began in July. Through August, spending has been minimal, at $1.3 million per Nielsen. So consumers can expect to see a lot of Mr. Jameson in the coming months.
An “aggressive” national cable schedule includes buys on ESPN, TBS, FX, Spike, and an integrated deal with Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show.”
Noah Rothbaum, editor of Liquor.com, said the brand is so hot it may not even need a big budget media campaign. “It’s one of the brands that has grown exponentially year-over-year for the past five years. It’s not like there is a crazy new cocktail, there is just this amazing thirst for Jameson,” Rothbaum said. “It’s one brand that may not actually need advertising. But at this point, I don’t think they can do anything wrong.”