JWT Wins Wild Turkey, Which Wins New ‘Creative Director’ Matthew McConaughey

By Patrick Coffee 

Today in UGH: celebrity creative directors. What are they about, really?

There’s the obvious earned media calculation, because no one gets more headlines than Random Famous Person, whether that coverage is justified or not. But we are truly curious on the ROI front, because we’d LOVE to know how much these celebrities get paid for their glamorous jobs … and how much the brands in question actually benefit.

We mention this because Wild Turkey named Matthew “Alright” McConaughey as its new creative director today. That announcement outweighs the more significant news: Wild Turkey has gone to JWT after a little less than three years with MDC’s Vitro.

Dude does fit the profile: he’s white, male, over 35, sometimes gets mildly creative with his facial hair and has been known to indulge in the odd recreational drug experience. He’s also into making short films like this one, which was directed by Robb Bindler of prod co Lucky 21.

The mission statement: “The only thing our great story was missing was a great storyteller. Meet Wild Turkey’s new Creative Director, Matthew McConaughey.” We will take their word for it, because we lack both the time and interest to watch a 6-minute clip about a movie star hanging out at a bourbon mill. He did at least narrate the project himself.

From the release: “A Wild Turkey fan, McConaughey first visited the lauded distillery a couple of years ago … It was there at the distillery, high above the Kentucky River, that he was introduced to Jimmy and Eddie Russell, the Bourbon Hall of Fame father and son Master Distiller team who have worked at the Wild Turkey Distillery for 97 years collectively.”

And then he agreed to be their lead creative person, right??

As you know, this Hire a Celebrity practice is not a new thing. The most recent offender was Bacardi, which named Swizz Beats as its new “creative director” with “oversight for the entire Bacardi portfolio of brands” because of course the many talented people at BBDO don’t have that one down.

Campari bought Wild Turkey in 2009 for $575 million to jump on the everyone drinking bourbon trend.

How will Mr. McConaughey work with JWT? We have no idea. The release didn’t even mention the agency’s name or the fact that Wild Turkey recently held a review — as evidenced by the fact that Eric Weisberg, who just became global CCO at Doner, listed the bourbon brand among the accounts he led at JWT. A source on this recent Vitro story told us that Wild Turkey had recently decided to transfer a greater share of its marketing budget to its international agency partners. The PR firm that pitched us this one, however, confirmed that there was a review and that JWT won.

Honestly, we feel that Matthew’s talents as a creative director might have been put to better use in helping HBO avoid the embarrassment that was True Detective Season 2.


Agency: J. Walter Thompson New York

Executive Creative Director: Eric Weisberg
Creative Director: Christopher Franzese, Justin Pedone
Chief Creative Officer, New York: Brent Choi
Planner: Barry Walker
Director of Brand Production: Caroline Coleman
Senior Art Buyer: Suzanna Shields
Global Account Director: Meredith Steinman
Client Team: Melanie Batchelor, Jason Daniel, Thomas Simart, Dave Karraker, Jared Ricardo
Director: Robb Bindler
Production Company: Lucky 21
Editing House: Whitehouse Editorial