Arnold Breaks New Ground with Southern Comfort

Arnold Worldwide’s new campaign for Brown-Forman’s Southern Comfort brand breaks new ground in two areas. First, it is an integrated campaign in its execution, not just theory. Second, it will place a hard-liquor brand on cable TV.

The new campaign is set for launch next week across the U.S., Europe and Australia. Arnold Worldwide-St. Louis, as global advertising agency-of-record for the brand, has created a campaign that integrates print, TV, radio, outdoor and a new tag line: "Southern Comfort, between friends." Arnold Worldwide Integrated Solutions will manage event marketing, bar promotions, interactive design and e-marketing in the U.S. Online and offline US media planning and buying are being handled by arnoldMPG.

“We saw an opportunity with this brand to bring true integration to the campaign, not just speak to it,” says Bill Mueller, EVP at Arnold St. Louis. “The client was committing to making it happen, and our agency was committed to making it happen. That tends to make some of the obstacle to integrated campaigns easier to overcome.”

Errol Morris, whose work includes the groundbreaking documentary The Thin Blue Line, directed the new Southern Comfort TV with Arnold Worldwide-St. Louis creative director Mark Ray. Those spots will start next week on several cable networks. Mueller says both Arnold and Brown-Forman are aware of the controversy surrounding TV advertising for hard liquor brands. Anti-liquor ad advocates have claimed that it potentially conveys a pro-drinking message to an audience under 18.

“Our philosophy is that you go beyond the legal requirements in regard to age appeal,” Mueller says. “That’s Brown-Forman’s philosophy too. All the people cast in the TV spots are over 25. And the message is tied to how people connect with this brand. It has a rational component and an emotional component. It’s not about how Southern Comfort will improve your chances with the opposite sex. It’s more low-key than other hard-liquor ads I’ve seen.”

Mueller said the “between friends” tagline resulted from extensive worldwide consumer research. The goal, he said, was to “celebrate customers as much as the product.”