Jack Daniel’s Puts the Townspeople of Lynchburg Front and Center in Its New Ads

Town of 600 has plenty of colorful characters

If you don't know jack about the townsfolk of Lynchburg, Tenn., that's about to change.

Lynchburg's most famous resident, Brown-Forman brand Jack Daniel's, puts the spotlight on some of its less-renowned neighbors in new ads from Arnold Worldwide created for the distillery's 150th anniversary.

An anthem spot breaking today opens on a sun-kissed field of tall grass, with locals popping in and out of the frame as a Southern-fried fiddle plays in the background.

We briefly meet, among others, a young woman who immigrated to Lynchburg from Taiwan; a gray-haired lady named Hiawatha Kitty McGee; and a burly dude who can heft 500-pound barrels of whiskey:

Jack's no stranger to invoking its heritage, and this latest push, labeled "Our Town" (Thornton Wilder would be proud), marks a roots return for the brand after recent promos focused on Frank Sinatra. In fact, the "postcards" bit near the anthem's close harkens back to Jack's Lynchburg-themed print campaigns that began in the 1950s.

This edit brings that idea into sharper focus:

Just don't try to actually send bottles of Jack Daniels through the mail, because at the USPS, Prohibition never ended.

No worries, though, because that barrel guy can haul plenty of product:

"We filmed everybody we could, doing our best to get as many of these real people as possible," says Arnold executive creative director Wade Devers. Quick clips featuring the woman from Taiwan, Hiawatha Kitty McGee and other quirky Lynchburg characters will break in due course.

"There was a 104-year-old woman who came to the shoot," recalls Devers. "She got her hair done the day before. We kept her in an air conditioned car until we were ready to roll because it was fairly hot out there. When the car door opened and she came across the field toward the crowd, the entire town gave her a standing ovation."

Luckily, one group of troublemaking locals stayed away. "We were freaked out about chigger bites, which are supposedly both terrible and common if you happen to be in standing in tall grass in Tennessee in July," Devers says. "Thankfully, no chigger bites."

Yeah, that would be a plus.

Tapping into its origins and evoking whiskey-soaked Americana is a safe, intuitive strategy for Jack.

"It's rare that a brand as universally recognized and respected as Jack Daniel's is only made in one place," says Devers. "This is a small, tightly knit community that pretty much does things their own way. They've grown up together for generations, and they have a great respect for the work they do. When you have a community like that making whiskey, they're really making it with purpose. And people respond to that."

This tried-and-true approach feels authentic because, after all these years, the brand still calls a picturesque Tennessee town of 600 souls home. That said, this sort of thing can get cloying, so it's best consumed in moderation. 


Client: Brown-Forman / Jack Daniel's

Mark McCallum – Executive Vice President, and President, Jack Daniel's Brands

Philip Epps – VP, Global Brand Director – Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey

Agency: Arnold Worldwide

Global Chief Creative Officer: Jim Elliott

Managing Partner ECD: Wade Devers

Art Director: Chris Valencius

Copywriters: Jonathan Graham and Greg Farley

SVP Broadcast Producer: William Near

Assistant Broadcast Producer: Alissa Feldbau

Managing Director: Paul Nelson

Senior Marketing Manager: Mallory Brannan

VP, Brand Strategy Director: Vaughn Allen

Senior Brand Strategist: Ellis Reavy

EVP Director of Business Affairs: Anne Joynt

Production Company: Radical Media LLC

Director: Steve Miller

Executive Producer: Gregg Carlesimo

Producer: Laura Heflin

Head of Production: Frank Dituri

Editorial Company / VFX: Lost Planet & Black Hole

Editor(s): Hank Corwin & Charlie Johnston

Executive Producer: Krystn Wagenberg

Producer: Casey Cayko

Sound: Sound Lounge NYC

Engineer: Tom Jucarone

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@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.
Publish date: September 26, 2016 https://dev.adweek.com/creativity/jack-daniels-puts-townspeople-lynchburg-front-and-center-its-new-ads-173706/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT