Jack Daniel’s Celebrates 150 Years: 5 Questions With Svend Jansen

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Jack Daniel's

As Jack Daniel’s celebrates its 150th anniversary, the top-selling American whiskey brand is taking its Lynchburg show on the road. It started out in New York City in September, and is traveling to Chicago this week and then on to Miami in November.

Recreating the original Jack Daniel’s Lynchburg General Store and Distillery that opened in 1875, whiskey is the star in pop-up shops and charcoal whiskey tastings take place every 15 minutes.

The show uses a virtual reality station for a tour of the original Lynchburg distillery.

The brand is hosting a worldwide whiskey barrel scavenger hunt as well as producing special edition black label bottles of old No. 7. It is also reconstructing the iconic home of Jack Daniels’ nephew, Lem Motlow, located on the edge of the Jack Daniel Distillery property for more than 140 years.

In addition to the traveling brand experience, Jack Daniel’s 150th yearlong celebration includes:

  • Global Master Distiller for a Day Contest
  • Renovations and New Facilities at the Jack Daniel Distillery
  • Celebration Event in Lynchburg in October
  • Closing Bell Ringing and Anniversary Reception at the New York Stock Exchange

Owned by the Brown-Forman Corp. since 1956, Jack Daniel’s distinctive square bottles sold more than 11 million cases of its flagship “Black Label” product in 2013.

brandchannel spoke with Svend Jansen, Global PR Manager, about bringing the spirit of Lynchburg to the world with the retail brand experience that kicked off in New York City.

bc: Why take your 150th anniversary celebration on the road?

Svend Jansen Jack Daniel's

Svend Jansen: It is very important for Jack Daniel’s to create amazing experiences for our friends. As we celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Jack Daniel’s Distillery, we wanted to share a piece of our hometown by replicating the Lynchburg Hardware & General Store in three cities. If our friends can’t make it to Lynchburg this year, we hope this experience will bring a little bit of Lynchburg to them.

bc: The “Our Town” spot celebrates Lynchburg in the spirit of the iconic “Postcards” campaign. How are you mining and honoring the roots and legacy of this great American brand and the people behind it in your marketing?

Jansen: We quite often talk about how Jack Daniel’s isn’t just made in Lynchburg, it’s made of Lynchburg. It is as much the passion, values and craftsmanship of the folks who have the honor of making this great whiskey as it is the actual ingredients that go into it.

That honor is frequently passed down generation to generation, and that is what makes Lynchburg the unique place that it is and Jack Daniel’s the brand it has become. The “Our Town” spot is the latest iteration of recognizing the people behind the brand.

bc: What did you learn from your NYC pop-up brand experience that you’re bringing to the next leg in Chicago?

Jansen: Jack Daniel’s is a brand that has always been culturally relevant as well as a brand that has an authentic and real story. In the general store, we want consumers to experience the many elements of Jack Daniel’s that together can give the full story about the brand. As a consumer, the most important takeaway is that all the different elements within the experience are presented in a simple, fun and authentic way.

bc: With so much history steeped in the brand, what are you highlighting in your storytelling this anniversary year?

Jansen: The actual safe that killed Jack Daniel’s will be on display along with a tribute to Frank Sinatra, who was a loyal Jack Daniel’s fan. My favorite element would be the Lynchburg Travel Agency where with virtual reality technology you can explore a 360-degree three-minute film of the Jack Daniel’s well-crafted way of making our whiskey in Lynchburg.

bc: What’s the brand message to the consumer as you celebrate 150 years?

Jansen: There are three key things we would like to consumers to know. First, Jack Daniel was a real man. It sounds obvious but our history and heritage all started with Jack himself. It was his passion and entrepreneurship that gave us this unique whiskey in a square bottle.

Second, we want people to know that every drop of Jack Daniel’s Old No.7 sold anywhere in the world is still distilled, matured and bottled in the tiny town of Lynchburg, Tennessee. For a brand that is sold in over 170 countries around the world, its is sometimes hard to believe that it is still all made and bottled in a town with one stoplight, that’s found in a dry county with a population around 600.

Finally, we want to remind consumers that making whiskey is an art form and it’s one we’ve been honing for 150 years now. Jack used to say “every day we make it we’ll make it the best we can”—and we still live by those words today. That’s why we’re the only company to make its own barrels, why we charcoal mellow every drop and why we’re still here in the Hollow with the Cave Spring and that iron free water.

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