Southern Comfort Turnaround

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An advertising campaign that actually works?

Wine and Spirits Daily reported recently that the Southern Comfort ad campaign seems to have paid off.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you won’t be surprised to learn that. (See Aug 4, 2012 and Dec 19, 2012.)

The brand’s net sales had been in decline for years but turned around in 2012. While 3% growth isn’t necessarily a big deal, for a brand that was hemorrhaging, it’s a road to recovery.

Judging from the emails and comments I received, I’m not surprised at all that the brand turned around.

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Southern Comfort Ad – Revisited

“Whatever’s Comfortable” is the name of the campaign by Brown Forman’s Southern Comfort brand. I blogged about it on August 4th of this year and the comments, nearly all of which are positive, keep coming.

So, I decided to revisit the ad via a conversation with Mark Bacon the Global Brand Director for Southern Comfort.

Like this blog, the feedback they have gotten from consumers has been overwhelmingly positive and is resulting in “significant increases in consumer takeaway.” I think that’s because their target consumer leans toward advertising that is real and doesn’t need the typical models they can’t relate to. According to Mark, “this ad is about it’s cool to be who you are.”

The power of the work from Wieden + Kennedy comes though not only in terms of the message but also the high production value of the ad. The strut, the dog, the shoes, and especially, the song — Hit or Miss by Odetta — with the lyrics, “I gotta be me.” I wish they had been one of my agencies.

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Southern Comfort Ad – What do you think?

The ad below was just released by Brown Forman’s Southern Comfort brand. It’s the first effort by Wieden + Kennedy in New York. The campaign is called “Whatever’s Comfortable” and runs on YouTube and the brand’s Facebook page. It will also run on national TV.
I’ll give you my take on it but first, have a look.

My informal and very unscientific survey revealed a mixed reaction. “I don’t get it,” said one of my participants, “What’s the message… where’s the brand sell?”
On the other hand, there were those who – like myself – thought that it’s excellent on a number of levels. He has an “everyday/everyman look” and the message of whatever is comfortable comes through loud and clear. Whether you like it or not, you have to give it an A+ on the production values – the glasses and shoes he is wearing, the dog, the other people and, above all, the music is well chose.
Oh, and about the brand sell in the ad coming at the very end, all I can say is if you’re watching this on social media, you know the brand because you clicked on it.

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