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Jack Daniel's and Exclusive Brand Advertising

December 9, 2011

'We'd rather ask for your patience than your forgiveness.'


This was the brand message back in the 1950’s from Jack Daniels. At a time when brands were pulling back on all forms of advertising, Jack Daniels was going full speed ahead, even when the demand highly exceeded the supply. The entire concept of advertising to let people know they ‘couldn’t get it’ should be realistically avoided, and yet Jack Daniels took full advantage of their low supply by creating an exclusive and high quality brand.


Jack Daniels’ Exclusivity

According to, in 1951 Fortune Magazine published an article on Jack Daniel’s that chronicled its growth and its appeal to public figures such as 1950 Nobel Prize winner William Faulkner, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Hollywood director John Huston. Just a few years later, in 1954, another popular magazine published a piece on Jack Daniel’s being the favorite drink of Frank Sinatra, Jackie Gleason and Ava Gardner.


With those high profile endorsements, the brand became a force of exclusivity, and demand grew. This is when Jack Daniel’s began to advertising, when demand was already exceeding supply. Yet, the company did not advertise to ‘sell their product’ so much as to warn their advocates that they probably wouldn’t be able to get the product. They used advertising to tell advocates how high the demand was, and how important the quality of the product was. They were essentially telling everyone that though demand was high, they were not going to compromise on the excellence of the drink.


This advertising tactic fulfilled all of the requirements for a successful brand; it evoked intense emotions because people wanted the product but might not be able to get it, it created and experience with the brand by making it exclusive and high profile, it connected directly and genuinely with the audience, and it remained consistent to its core brand message of creating a quality product.


This ingenious advertising tactic also portrayed Jack Daniel’s as an all-American, authentic, ‘made by real people’ product that an audience could truly appreciate. Ads were not overblown, colorful, or dramatic with models posing next to cars in a smoking jacket. No, these ads were simple, small, most often in black-and-white, and often photographs of the hard-working people behind the scenes at the Jack Daniel’s plant in Lynchburg, Tennessee.


This counterintuitive approach to marketing a premium brand -- the one-page marketing plan included avoiding discounting the price -- ran into skeptics along the way, who did not understand the universal values it evoked. "Going into the United Kingdom in the early 1980s," Eddy says, "there was pushback about small black-and-white ads showing people in Lynchburg, Tenn. They said, 'That works in the United States, but it won't work here.' Guess what? It did." Today Britain is the second-strongest market for Jack Daniel's. (


Jack Daniel’s has come a long way since it’s first advertising venture back in the 1950’s, however they have continued to remain consistent to their authentic brand message of creating a high quality product. How can you give your brand that exclusive push it needs? Let us help.