The TBWA\Dublin team on the campaign that took them from South Africa to LA and even Nairobi in an effort to ‘Widen the Circle’ beyond generic connection
Irish whiskey brand Jameson partnered with TBWA\Dublin in a brand new campaign featuring Irish actor, writer and comedian, Aisling Bea, that encourages viewers to ‘Widen the Circle’, and find the people who ‘just get you’.
Ahead of St Patrick’s day on March 17th, the campaign is all about embracing new connections after a period where human interaction has been severely lacking. As the world slowly begins to open back up, it seems that what we’ve all missed is the ability to connect with others, something that inevitably happens during St Patrick’s Day celebrations. In the campaign, Ashling narrates the spot that encourages you to ‘come as you are’.
Jameson Connects and Fontaines DC are also taking part in the best of Irish culture and creativity series, bringing an online gig to people across the world on St Patrick's Day. Fans can grab a ticket on the Jameson Irish Whiskey website and connect virtually with the event.
TBWA\Dublin’s chief strategy officer, Mandy Leontakianakis, ECD Des Creedon and global account lead, Kerrie Sweeny, speak to LBB’s Nisna Mahatni about the spot.
LBB> Jameson’s ‘Widen the Circle’ focuses on authentic human connection and this campaign specifically focuses on ‘The Spark’. How did you land on this as the focus and why is it an important message to share?
Mandy> Widen The Circle is the platform that expresses the Big Idea for Jameson, which is The Kindred Spirit (in all of us). We wanted to go beyond generic connection and express a specialness, a meaningfulness that connects people across differences and divides.
Having just been through a historic period of involuntary separateness, the kind of connection that transcends, that goes to a higher kinship felt like a powerful jumping off point. Widen The Circle is our more direct provocation to the consumer: to step just that little bit further out of a comfort zone and see similarities instead of differences. To invite people in, and to do so, by showing up as yourself.
LBB> What was the brand’s aim for the campaign and how did this inform the direction you took?
Mandy> Jameson has strong functional equity with ‘Triple Distilled, Twice as Smooth’. It is a brand built in many respects on taste – a taste born of craft but without the harshness that many whiskeys have. It was time to move the proposition beyond the bottle, and into sociability. We wanted to find a cultural salience for the brand that builds on its heritage and looks forward to new points of view on open-hearted inclusiveness.
LBB> How did Aisling Bea get involved as the narrator and main character for the spot and why does she represent the brand so well?
Des> For the storyteller in our commercial, we wanted someone who was Irish. We also wanted someone who isn’t the usual stereotypical whiskey drinker. After all, we want to widen the circle. But the main criteria was someone who lived up to the mantra of Jameson, “the serious whiskey that doesn’t take itself too seriously”. And Aisling Bea was the perfect choice. She’s Irish, funny, a great storyteller and iconic, much like Jameson whiskey itself. From there on in, it was Jameson and UEG who then worked hard to secure her talents.
LBB> Jake Scott directed the piece - what was his unique vision for the campaign and how did he achieve this?
Des> As a team we worked hard to ensure how we worked was as collaborative as possible. So, from early in the process we sat down with Jake and discussed what our vision for Jameson and the ‘Widen the Circle’ campaign would be. We wanted to inject a new sensibility into the whiskey category. One of a more modern world. One where whiskey can be enjoyed in different environments and in different ways.
From the start, Jake understood what we were trying to achieve and delivered it, even with all the drama we had on the shoot. We landed in South Africa just as omicron decided to announce itself. So, the shoot was closed down and moved from one continent to another at one point. So, there was quite a bit to deal with. But thankfully because our vision was very much aligned, we all knew what we were trying to achieve, even though at one point, we were in South Africa, Jake was in LA and our producer was in Nairobi. So, it’s a global ad in more ways than one!
LBB> Talk us through the campaign's release and why it was important to launch it a few weeks before St Patrick’s day.
Kerrie> St Patrick's day to Jameson is what Valentine's Day is to love. It's a day when we celebrate our Irish heritage and welcome people from all over the globe to join in and raise a glass with us. It doesn't matter where your passport is from, Jameson believes you don't have to be the same to feel the same. Launching the new Widen the Circle platform and supporting campaign at this time makes sense when they are encouraging the world to go out, find the ones they share an unspoken bond with, and celebrate each other over a Jameson.