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


Laura White attended the Marketing Institute's breakfast series and outlines what we all can learn from it

Jameson Marketing Institute

The Marketing Institute welcomed a large group of media and marketing enthusiasts to Fire on Dawson street, for their talk on “The Re-Awakening of a Whiskey Icon: The Rise of Jameson in Ireland”.  The venue and topic, seemed quite fitting as on this freezing cold morning, fire and a whiskey sounded ideal. Barry Fitzpatrick, Head of Marketing for Whiskey & Brown Spirits at Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard, spoke to us about the rise of Jameson specifically in Ireland through highly drilled marketing tactics. Globally, Jameson had been seen as an edgy, trendy whisky, however on our own shores of Ireland, up until five years ago Jameson was seen as an “old man’s drink”. This was the challenge at hand for Jameson and Barry talked us through the successful marketing journey it took.  

Jameson needed to break down the old-fashioned conventions around whiskey. The deep-rooted misconceptions of whisky overall included being an old man’s drink, only drank at funerals or weddings with your Da or Granda, better known as “Fire Water” and a “No mess’n about” kind of drink. A fresh approach needed.

Jameson established three main goals in order to achieve their objectives. 1) Having a single minded message to hammer home again and again 2) Immersing themselves in consumer relevant events and establishing a Jameson experience and 3) Create an advocate community.

The single minded messaging, was turning the old man’s drink into the young man’s drink. More specifically targeting 25 - 35 year-old lads and having Jameson as their mixed drink of choice.

With this goal, Jameson needed a mixer to compliment the taste as well as be disruptive. Jack Daniels dominated the Coca-Cola space, so there was no way to compete with the JD & Coke stereotype.  Ginger Ale became the mixer of choice and the drink became Jameson & Ginger Ale. The taste was slowly but surely getting there, but it needed one last refreshing aid to soften the harsh fire water taste. A squeeze of lime was the answer. So the young man’s mixer drink of choice became Jameson, ginger and lime. Delicious!

Jameson then needed to educate the masses about how to create the perfect Jameson, ginger and lime drink. They did this by training up bartenders from all corners of Ireland in their trendy hidden speak- easy bar, located on Georges Street and disguised as a butchers, very cool!

In the past, when a customer ordered a Jameson with some form of mixer, a bartender would naturally pour out your measure of whisky and hand you a litre bottle of mixer to then pour yourself. This was no longer to be the case and so the training began. Not only were the bartenders trained to create the perfect refreshing drink, they were also educated in topics of discussion around Jameson to engage with customers in order to give them the full experience.

Immersing themselves in events in Ireland and building these out into a Jameson experience, was the next step.  They’d no interest in just sticking a logo on something and sponsoring it. They went after three main touch points of consumer interest; Music, Film and Food.  Any event they got themselves involved in they wanted to be sure they were relevant, social and unpretentious.

Once they had the target audience and experiences, they need to create a community of advocates. This involved seeding and co creating shareable engaging and relevant storytelling, through various forms of social media. As a result, Jameson then needed to listen and learn from their community of followers and reward them. For example, in order to facilitate the creation of shareable content, they encouraged young budding bloggers and journalists to get involved by creating writing competitions for best accounts of Jameson experiences.

Above are just some examples of the ample marketing tactics and choices, which Jameson have used over the past 4 years and the results have been staggering so far. Value in Jameson sales is up 21%. They’ve overcome taste barriers as harsh taste is down by 50%. More people are seeing it as a brand for everyone and they have given people a reason to choose Jameson on a regular basis. Jameson’s journey has been remarkable and is truly a great Irish Marketing case study for all of us to learn from.

Jameson Marketing Institute
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