Reimagining Wild Turkey’s Ad Campaign

A few weeks ago, Wild Turkey/Campari released the second installment in the tenure of Matthew McConaughey’s Creative Directorship.

Reimagining Wild Turkey's Ad Campaign Header

A few weeks ago, Wild Turkey/Campari released the second installment in the tenure of Matthew McConaughey’s Creative Directorship. The ad features a similar tempo to the first: high-paced movement from various party vignettes, strung together with a denim-clad McConaughey clutching a bottle of Wild Turkey; loud, upbeat music; and the feature of a very soulful musician. The spot ends with the same tagline, “It’ll find you.”

Blending community vibes with nightlife culture, both ads evoke the feel of a Sunday choir performance at a Southern Baptist Church with that of a seedy jazz bar off Rue Bourbon. McConaughey paints himself with the same juxtaposition of an “authentic” guy, capable of hanging with anyone (no matter how cool, like the fedora-wearing Davies), and catching the eye of any lady he floats by. What’s left to be seen is if this “open tent” approach will make all of the good hipsters Campari is targeting sidle up to the bar and order a Wild Turkey. Something just doesn’t seem or feel right about this spot, and it’s not just McConaughey’s mustache (which seems to have found him since his last spot).

It’s not a bad commercial by any means. Like the first one, the production value is immense. The colors are beautiful, the music is visceral, and the lighting is enchanting. However, it certainly doesn’t make me think Wild Turkey, let alone want to drink it. So instead of delving further into a critique, I have taken the liberty of creating my own ad campaign for Wild Turkey featuring the king of Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe. If McConaughey is speaking to the bourbon growth audience, Rowe would serve double duty: appealing to the base, while engaging new drinkers, all while capturing more of that elusive “authenticity.”

Mike Rowe is the quintessential everyman’s man. His show Dirty Jobs was revolutionary, shedding much-needed light on the less-than-pretty jobs out there that make our civilized society run. Mike Rowe is approachable, authentic, not afraid to get dirty, and, let’s face it, not too shabby to look at. He has a voice that evokes immediate trust and a persona that would make anyone want to have a drink with him. If you’re not convinced that conversation would be fascinating, check out his Facebook page where he opines on matters both political and personal.

The setup: A shot of a cornfield with the sun dimming and a tractor finishing harvesting for the day. As the tractor pulls back to the barn, an American flag flying on the porch of the nearby farmhouse can be seen in the background, then it fades out of focus as the farmer. Cut to a wide pan that shows Mike Rowe opening the barn door to let the farmer pull the tractor inside. Then a few seconds of Rowe and the farmer doing tasks around the barn, moving hay bales, cleaning chaff from the tractor. They sit down on a bale of hay outside of the barn, and as the sun begins to dip below the horizon, Rowe pours them both a glass of Wild Turkey. They laugh, drink, and clink glasses. It ends with “Wild Turkey: American Made” as the sun sets in the background.

Yes, hipsters have tons of money to spend, and I understand that Campari wants to grow the Wild Turkey brand, but I’ve always perceived Wild Turkey as a working person’s drink. It’s unapologetically fiery, with heavy alcohol on the palate with an affordable price tag. This is a bourbon that numbs muscle aches, calms nerves that have been on end all day, and allows no frills relaxation. This is a bourbon you drink in any bar – especially a no-frills one – not one in a chichi Williamsburg hotel where the bartenders wear vests and bow ties and use $120 organic beard oil. It tells a story that Middle America identifies with and that the rest of America respects, and even sometimes aspires to: the satisfaction of a hard day’s work, and a stiff bourbon to relax and celebrate a job well done.

But where does that leave our mustachioed Creative Director? Fear not, folks, for we found a better product for our man McConaughey to front: corporate’s namesake product, Campari. Picture it: McConaughey in a half-buttoned linen shirt on a beachside veranda on the Southern coast of Italy, Campari spritz in his hand, a bottle of Campari on the table. The camera pans to the water where a beautiful woman in a vintage high-waisted bathing suit (a la Esther Williams for that retro feel) emerges from the water and begins to walk across the beach towards McConaughey’s table. They look at each other, and he extends his drink and says, “Will you join me?” She looks at him, gives a half smile, shrugs, and takes the other seat at his table. The scene fades as they clink glasses of Campari and the words “Campari: Will you join me?” fade in.