Jamaica’s Appleton Rum Gets Gritty in New Ads

The 265-year old estate shows off people, pride, rum barrels

The budget-friendly rum category doesn’t have many choices liable to leave the buyer feeling like he’s just bought something artisanal. But Appleton Estate Jamaica Rum is clearly out to change that with a campaign unveiled on Jamaican Independence Day.

One TV ad, from San Francisco shop Argonaut, lucks budget-friendly rum out of the usual realm of parties and pirates and plunges it deep into the Jamaican heartland. Shot in the Nassau Valley on the Appleton Estate, which has been distilling rum for 265 years and counting, the scenery is earthy and indigenous, featuring lush vegetation and poignant close-ups of the men and women who work at the distillery. The ad is aptly titled, “From Jamaica with Love.”

Argonaut, whose creative team decamped from San Francisco to spend time on the Appleton grounds, captured the backing track from an impromptu hammer-and-barrel session performed by two of the estate’s workers, with lyrics added by Kingston-based reggae artist Brushy One String.

The message here is clear: This is the real stuff that the locals drink. “If you could take the cane fields, the sunshine, and the people and the music of our home, and distill it into a single spirit, this is what it would be,” intones the narrator. “One hundred percent Jamaican from cane to cup.”

“It’s rare to find a brand with such a rich and deep story waiting to be told,” Argonaut creative chief Hunter Hindman said, in a statement.

Appleton’s latest effort is in marked contrast to most of rum’s usual fare, such as Cruzan’s recent spots featuring talking Macaws and crabs, and Caucasian actors.

The “From Jamaica With Love” campaign also includes print and digital ads and events in select markets across the U.S., including Atlanta, Austin, Miami and Portland, Ore.