In its largest-ever marketing initiative, Wild Turkey is targeting Millennials with a new "#Nevertamed" campaign.
The concept of the campaign, developed by San Diego-based agency Vitro, is to highlight Wild Turkey's own "untamed spirit" — its refusal to compromise on the original production process that achieves its quality and flavor — in the context of the stories of five "uncompromising" young adults who "follow their passions and instincts" despite the challenges, "never taking the easy way."
Those individuals are Michael Sharp, an Alaskan outdoorsman who surfs in arctic waters each day; Chris Davenport, a mountaineer who hiked up and skied down Colorado's 54 highest peaks in a single year; Rosie Napravnik, a trailblazing female horse-racing jockey; Caleb Siemon, an artist/designer described as "America's premier glassblower"; and Tim Rigby, a famed Hollywood stuntman.
These stories are being told through 15-, 30- and 60-second TV spots; a dedicated Nevertamed.com site hosting the spots and long-form video profiles of the five subjects; social media activations around the #Nevertamed hashtag; out-of-home and print advertising; and off- and on-premise point-of-sale promotions.
An introductory 60-second spot intercuts active footage of the five subjects with footage and a voiceover describing Wild Turkey's distillation and aging process. Ending brand message: "Wild Turkey. Bottled but never tamed."
The overall mission is to evolve the brand's image for a younger generation while spotlighting its heritage.
Well-crafted American whiskies are experiencing a resurgence of popularity because of Millennials' interest in spirits with flavor and character, says Andrew Floor, senior marketing director, brown spirits at Campari America. (Parent Gruppo Campari acquired the Wild Turkey brand from Pernod Ricard in 2009.)
Wild Turkey — which is still distilled in the Lawrenceburg, Ky., area where it originated in the late 1800's — wanted to convey differentiators such as continuing to age the whiskey for five years or more (although the legal minimum for straight Bourbon whiskey is four years), continuing to use the deepest (most costly) char on its barrels to achieve more flavor, and using large quantities of natural (not genetically-modified) rye, in ways that resonate with Millennials, Floor says.
"Bourbon traditionally has been considered the domain of older males," he notes. "We're appealing to a much younger audience of both males and females by providing them with rational reasons – like our longer aging process – to make an informed decision" to choose Wild Turkey, as opposed to the "emotional, esoteric, naive" appeals often used by spirits brands, he says.
"We're doing that by breaking from the stereotypical representations of American whisky, like rodeo riders and rocking chairs on porches and barrels being rolled down distillery aisles," Floor continues. "We're showing real individuals whose life stories parallel Wild Turkey's passionate commitment to following a vision despite pressures to do otherwise."
Demonstrating the campaign's balancing of the modern relevance and heritage messaging, the campaign's elements also include profiles of Wild Turkey's master distiller, Jimmy Russell, and his son, Eddie Russell, who together have more than 90 years' experience at the brand's Kentucky distillery and are both Bourbon Hall of Fame Distillers.
Driving social engagement through the brand's Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram presences is a major focus of the #Nevertamed campaign.
On television, Wild Turkey is investing in its most extensive-ever flights, Floor reports. In addition to typical male-targeted networks such as ESPN and FX, the spots will get significant exposure on the Discovery Channel — chosen because it appeals to viewers who want to "look a little deeper" into things, he says.