TBWA\Dublin chat about the real stories they pulled from Jameson’s archives for the brand's global campaign ‘Taste, That’s Why’
On St Patrick’s Day 2018, the world’s most successful whiskey brand, Jameson, having recently brought its global business back to Ireland at TBWA\Dublin, launched a new campaign, ‘Taste, That’s Why’. Dug from the distillery’s extensive archives, the global campaign retells authentic tales of Jameson’s heritage and unique flavour - with some twists to make you smile along the way.
We chat to Mark Nolan, Chief Strategy Officer, John Kane, Executive Creative Director and Paula Kelly, Business Director at TBWA\Dublin as they discuss how they delved into the real stories from the distillery and how they captured honest Irish character that would resonate in markets around the world.
Q> You’ve just launched the first global campaign for Jameson and TBWA\Dublin’s partnership. Where did the concept for ‘Taste, That’s Why’ come from? What were you looking to achieve with the campaign?
Mark Nolan> When you are lucky enough to work with this incredible brand, you definitely feel the weight of responsibility on your shoulders - or more importantly, the spectre of the ghost of John Jameson himself looking over your shoulder making sure you don’t endanger or jeopardise his 238-year-old prize whiskey! We often asked what would he like us to do? The simple answer is, tell the truth. This never ages. Ask anyone, whether in Mumbai or Dallas why they drink Jameson, the answer tends to be the same. The Taste. This is where ‘Taste, that’s why.’ sprung from.
We didn’t want this platform to be formulaic in advertising terms. If anything, we tried to ensure that it didn’t feel like an advertising campaign and more like pieces of a story you’d like to hear more about. Today, a lot of advertising is unfortunately expected or needlessly contrived. We really set out to declutter our communications and simply call it as it is. There’s no need for fabrication when you are dealing with a brand of such substance in both provenance and quality.
The essence of Jameson has always been the serious whiskey that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So ‘Taste, that’s why.’ marries fact with a little hint of embellishment and we played into the idea that the Irish never let the truth get in the way of a good story. The realty is that most of our campaign platform is based on true stories, but I’ll let John talk more about this later.
Q> The films are based on true stories from the Jameson archive. Given Jameson’s rich heritage, I imagine you must have learnt a lot going through the archive. What where the highlights?
John Kane> There’s over 200 years’ worth of stories in the archives, from distillery ledgers, to diaries, to sales dockets, to every bottle design from day one and so much more. It’s fascinating to explore and to see what’s changed through the years but more importantly what’s stayed the same. We decided to use the truth because there’s so much truth to be found that other brands would kill for and that in our opinion is very powerful.
Q> Jameson returned its global business to Dublin last year and chose TBWA\Dublin as its partner to communicate this new chapter of its brand. Now, one year on, how is this agency-client relationship developing?
Paula Kelly> The agency-client relationship is developing extremely well thanks to the success of the most recent campaign. The reality is that TBWA\ and Jameson Whiskey have been working together for 18 years now. It was just last year, that the account moved back to TBWA\Dublin where we now service over 20 countries from here, with more coming on board every month.
Q> Do you think we’ll be seeing more global brands choose Dublin as its base and what do you think this says about Dublin’s creative scene as a whole?
Paula Kelly> I honestly don’t see why global brands would not choose Dublin as its base – we have world-class creative talent here. We are big ideas people and have a wealth of global experience at a lower cost that some other global hubs. Ireland is also a great test bed and pilot market, which I don’t think enough brands take advantage of.
Q> ‘Scully Was To Blame’ feels very cinematic, with its gritty feel, grand locations and large cast. It must have been a huge production! How involved was TBWA\Dublin in the casting and shoot? Can you tell me more about how the settings and mood came about?
JK> We were involved in every aspect of the shoot. Along with the director, Matthijs van Heijiningen, we knew exactly the era and character we wanted to portray. That’s the beauty of it being based on a true story. You have to be true to the people, place and time. We also knew that in true Jameson style the spot needed a smile and therefore casting was so critical. Then in post, Screen Scene ensured every frame brought the viewer back to 1788.
Q> This campaign is much closer to being branded content than it is to be a traditional TVC campaign – what inspired the approach to opt for both the brand film and a documentary?
JK> It comes back to the substance and depth of the brand again. The stories come from the truth and a lot of people like to delve a little deeper. So instead of treating the film in isolation we decided to treat it like the start of a conversation. The viewer sees one piece of communication and that leads them to another. If they want to know more about Scully they can find it. We followed the principles of content creation similar to how a content provider like Netflix does. We are acknowledging how our audience consumes film right now.
Q> I love that the films retain that cheeky, humorous attitude of the Jameson brand, whilst all the while showing that it takes its age-old whiskey-making techniques very seriously. How did you manage to find that perfect balance?
JK> There’s tragedy in the story and tragedy can often lead to humour, especially if you’re Irish. The tragedy also allowed us to show the serious nature to the process of triple distillation. Tone was key. We wanted a smile but not a gag. We wanted to show that Jameson is the serious whiskey that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Q> What can we look forward to seeing from TBWA\Dublin and Jameson next?
PK> As John mentioned earlier, there are so many stories that come with the Jameson brand and we love to tell those stories with an Irish smile. Watch this space! We’re going into production again this year with the next chapter of the Jameson story.