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The Re-Awakening of a Whiskey Icon: The Rise of Jameson in Ireland

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Thursday 4 May 2017
Updated: Thursday 4 May 2017

At our latest Marketing Breakfast on 26th April, Barry Fitzpatrick from Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard took us through the re-awakening of the Jameson brand in Ireland. He discussed how, over the past 5 years, he and his team have turned around brand performance by breaking category norms, re-positioned the brand, broken down barriers and recruited a wave of new consumers to an Irish Whiskey icon and the wider whiskey category.

To begin this disruptive journey, Barry’s team had to go back to the fundamentals: What are the objectives? Who is the Target? What is the compelling proposition? But first, let’s have a look at the challenges they had to overcome.

Although Irish whiskey has been growing worldwide, it only accounts for 7% of global whiskey sales. At home in Ireland, whiskey brands have to face a number of challenges too. One of them is baggage. Whiskey is seen as an old man drink, a symbol of old, rural Ireland. 

The team at Jameson isolated 3 main barriers causing volume and value decline:

  • whiskey is seen as a drink for old people
  • it is too much of a “serious” drink
  • it is perceived to have a harsh taste 

So how did the team at Jameson go about breaking down category barriers?
They started with the audience and decided to go after the 25-34 year-old men segment. From there, they came up with a new brand vision: “To become the mixed drink of choice in the active social need state”.

To achieve this vision, Jameson created a new signature serve, Jameson Ginger & Lime, and recruited key influencers for each phase of the journey, starting with bar tenders all the way to consumers. The Jameson Ginger & Lime campaign had to be present at every touch point with consistency, including bartender training, consumer sampling, POS, media etc.

The new brand vision was brought to life with The Jameson Experience, tying the brand to food, music and film to attract the target segment and shake off the “serious” image of whiskey. Rather than just sticking a sponsorship on events, the team wanted the consumer to really “feel” The Jameson Experience.  They came up with a set of Jameson Experience “ingredients” that had to characterise each event, including “social”, “unpretentious” and “inclusive”. A great example of this is the Jameson Film Club, a truly unique experience aimed at a tightly segmented audience.

And finally, the company needed to build advocacy from consumers. This was achieved in two steps:

  • Seeding & co-creating sharable, engaging and relevant storytelling
  • Listening, learning and rewarding advocates

The campaign was a resounding success with, among other results, 30k new 25-34 year old consumers recruited to the brand, brand advocacy up 54% and volume and value sales both delivering double digit growth. 


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