Jack Knows Jack

David Kiley of BusinessWeek looks at Jack Daniel’s success overseas.

For Pok Rui Bin, 29, drinking Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 after 12-hour workdays in Beijing means mixing it with green tea. What appeals to Pok about the Tennessee whiskey, he says, is the smooth smoky flavor, “and how it’s hand-crafted and all comes from this one special place…I love that American West stuff.”
Allowances can be made for Pok’s poor sense of direction, and for the green tea mixer, since he’s never been to the U.S. But he has been to the Jack Daniel’s Web site, which is translated into 14 languages.

Kiley also explores the methods by which a brand attains icon status.

The brand’s marketing strategy has been the same since 1957, a consistency that is practically unheard of in advertising circles. Even the TV ads use the simple black-and-white photos rather than moving pictures. And that global consistency has been helped in no small part by Ted Simmons, who has been working on Jack Daniel’s ads since 1967. First at his own St. Louis ad agency, and now as a consultant to Arnold Worldwide. Simmons says he learned long ago to avoid putting customers or celebrities in Jack ads. “You don’t want to hold a mirror up to people,” says Simmons. That, he says, leaves the brand accessible to leather-clad bikers, as well as churchgoing schoolteachers, whether they are in St. Petersburg, Russia, or St. Petersburg, Fla.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.