Tullamore Dew had one of the loveliest ads of 2013. “Parting Glass” followed four young men singing in the rain, preparing to raise a glass to say goodbye to a friend—not because he’s dying, as viewers initially think, but because he’s about to get married. Simple and heartfelt, the point was to capture the feelings of “melancholy and victory” that Irish music can bring about.
Now, the world’s second largest Irish whiskey brand is back with a new global campaign, “The Beauty of the Blend,” that again features drinking and singing, but this time, the brand is making a point about diversity.
TV spots for both campaigns were shot in Ireland—Tullamore is 60 miles west of Dublin—and were created by New York-based Opperman Weiss. The campaign’s themes of inclusion and diversity are illustrated most overtly in a video on the whiskey’s new website, iamblend.com, and in a special promotion the brand is conducting with MyHeritage DNA, the international family history and DNA company.
The 60-second ad, “No Irish Need Apply,” refers to a notice “once commonly displayed across America from a time when the Irish were unjustly vilified as unwanted immigrants.” In it, a bartender named Danny—the actor, Ronan Graham, who appeared as one of the young men in the “Parting Glass” spot and who also appears in a new TV spot for the “Danny Boy” campaign—discusses the role of immigrants in American society.
The website says the video, shot as a single-take monologue, “draws upon the history of Irish immigrants to provide a poignant but playful rejoinder, reminding audiences of the positive impact and collective importance of immigrants in building the country today.”
Tullamore Dew, which is owned by William Grant & Sons, is also asking social influencers, both in the U.S. and overseas, to “share their blended stories”; some were filmed and appear on the website. The whiskey also is encouraging fans to share their blended stories, either through Twitter or on the website. And it has partnered with MyHeritage DNA to distribute DNA testing gifts through influencer outreach and consumer competitions in the U.S., U.K., Czech Republic and Ireland.
Caspar MacRae, Tullamore Dew’s global brand director, said the concept for “The Beauty of Blend” campaign actually came up in a brainstorming session with Opperman Weiss long before Donald Trump was elected and proposed policies limiting immigration to the United States. “We started work on the campaign more than a year ago. We couldn’t possibly have predicted what exactly the political landscape would be when we started, but we did want to drive home the message celebrating social inclusion and cultural diversity. That seems appropriate now,” he said.
MacRae also said that although the whiskey “had concerns about being seen as jumping on the bandwagon, we ultimately decided this was an important message we believe in and that we should share.”
“The Beauty of Blend” concept also promotes what Paige Parness, senior brand manager of Tullamore Dew, called one of the whiskey’s main selling points: It is a blend of three types of Irish whiskey—pot still, malt and grain. It was first made in Tullamore in 1829, and was sold primarily for export, especially to Irish who had emigrated overseas, reminding them, MacRae said, “of the home country.”
The campaign’s new spots were shot in an old bar outside Dublin meant to be a bar in Brooklyn, established, MacRae said, by Danny’s father.
The introduction of the new campaign, whose target market is men ages 21 to 39, was largely spurred, Parness said, by huge competitive growth: In 2010, when Grant purchased the brand and increased its production, there were three distilleries in Ireland making Irish whiskey; as of last year, there were 27.
The “Danny Boy” spot will be shown through Dec. 24 in major U.S. markets and on a rotating basis on the late night shows.
There are also print ads as well as related point of purchase material, which will be distributed in more than 20 markets worldwide. MacRae said that through the end of 2017 the brand’s media spend will be $1 million in the U.S., as part of a $5 million total launch investment, adding that the budget will be “considerably more” next year.