Pernod Ricard refutes claims of stifling Irish whiskey rivals as it launches Jameson ad

Leading Irish whiskey brand Jameson is returning to TV screens for the first time in seven years with a stylish ad.

It reconstructs a warehouse robbery in Johannesburg, where the thieves ignored valuable goods but made off with crates of Jameson.

The ad centres on two detectives that ponder the robbers’ rationale, and realise they were blown away by the taste when they try the whiskey in a bar.

Pernod Ricard UK is spending £1.2 million on the marketing campaign as it tries to boost sales in the run-up to Christmas.

Jameson is enjoying strong off-trade and on-trade growth, with sales up 14.3% in the past year (Nielsen and CGA) and it hopes to build on that among a target market of males aged 25-34.

Chris Ellis, commercial director at Pernod Ricard UK, said: “The biggest chunk of growth in spirits is coming from gin, but interestingly the second biggest chunk of growth is coming from premium Irish whiskey. Jameson is absolutely on fire.”

Head of marketing Adam Boita added: “The Jameson brand is going from strength to strength and this campaign enables us to continue to recruit a younger consumer to enjoy Irish Whiskey. We want to drive further awareness of the Jameson brand identity plus its great taste, and we believe the true story element and cinematic style will engage our target audience.”

The 40-second advert, created by TBWA Dublin, will be aired for the first time on Thursday, September 6, and will run for four weeks, during prime viewing time for the brand’s target audience.

Six-second teaser clips will be seeded on social media and online video channels including YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, two-days ahead of launch. The advert will then be broadcast across TV and digital throughout the campaign. Additional media investment includes print advertising in The Metro nationwide.

This week Pernod Ricard reported that Jameson sales are up 14% worldwide, prompting Andre Levy – founder of Wild Geese Irish whiskey – to accuse it of damaging the category due to its overwhelming dominance.

He said: “While the continued growth in the Irish Whiskey sector and rising global demand for Irish Whiskey is to be welcomed, the fact remains that there continues to be serious questions surrounding the market structure of the Irish whiskey sector that urgently needs to be answered.

“Focus should be drawn to the fact that Irish Distillers, whose primary whiskey product is Jameson, has recently repatriated over €2.8 billion of its capital to its French parent, Pernod Ricard.

“This staggering sum clearly demonstrates the dominance of this single market player within the sector, and reinforces the call for opening the Irish whiskey market to allow for increased competition.

“It is clear that this market is booming to the advantage of a small number of market players, and one in particular, and to the detriment of independent players. There needs to be much greater transparency surrounding Pernod Ricard and its dominance.”

DRN caught up with the Pernod Ricard senior management team and asked it for a response to these claims.

Jean-Christophe Coutures, who headed up the Irish Distillers division for two years before taking up a new role in charge of its Chivas Brothers Scotch division last month, told DRN: “I don’t think that’s true. We have invested €12 million in increasing the capacity of our distillery in Middleton and we are planning a second distillery moving forward so we can accommodate this supply.

“We are committed to helping new distillers in Ireland, so we are mentoring five new distillers in Ireland. We help in that regard.

“We have some competitors that ask us to sell them mature inventory. I don’t think [these claims] are true, because our relationship with our peers is very good.

“Our market share of total Irish whiskey has come down, which is good news because the Irish whiskey category cannot only grow with Jameson as a brand. It has to grow with a multi-brand proposition.

“A lot of our competitors are investing and we think it’s good for the category.”

Group chief executive Alexandre Ricard added: “I would like to thank our teams that have really created a success story with Jameson, which has opened the way for the Irish whiskey reinvigoration.”

Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard UK has launched RTD cans of Espresso Martini under its Kahlua coffee liqueur brand.

The new can uses “widget technology” to ensure the perfectly frothy top is consistent each and every time.

In a UK-first for RTD cocktail cans, the can is infused with nitrogen to create the classic Espresso Martini foam on top. The 25cl can is filled to only 20cl “to allow headspace for the nitro foam, which gives the drink its velvety smooth finish”.

Toni Ingram, head of marketing for Pernod Ricard UK, said: “The popularity of cocktails and making them at home is growing, with consumers seeking to replicate the on-trade experience.

“Tapping into this opportunity, we are launching the first nitro-technology Espresso Martini can to recreate the perfect on-trade cocktail, allowing retailers to take some share of this growing occasion.”

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