Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Revenge of The Olds
They say the best revenge is living well.
Sometimes the best revenge is just living.
Back when the American whiskey business was collapsing, in the 1970s and 80s, a lot of smart people tried to figure out why fewer and fewer consumers wanted to drink American whiskey, and what could be done about it. They gathered all the data they could. One thing they discovered was this: the brands losing market share the fastest all had the word 'old' in their name.They became known collectively as 'The Olds.'
They were everything you didn't want your brand to be.
In contrast, what sort of brands were holding their own? The ones whose first name was a Christian name, not 'Old,' but Jack, Jim, Ezra, or Evan.
Many of the Olds went away. A few survived. Three of the biggest 'Olds' were Old Crow, Old Grand-Dad, and Old Overholt, all products of the National Distillers Corporation. Back before the fall, Old Crow was the best-selling bourbon in America, Old Grand-Dad was the best-selling premium bourbon as well as the best-selling bond, and Old Overholt was the best-selling rye whiskey.
Flash forward to 2013. The Olds are back. Beam Inc., which acquired National Distillers in 1987, has given the Olds a new home on the internet.
"We launched the 'Olds' first-ever web site with the intention of introducing three iconic whiskey brands to those who haven’t yet experienced them," says Dan Cohen, Beam Inc. Senior PR Manager. "Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow and Old Overholt are three of our finest and most legendary whiskey brands, each of which has seen tremendous momentum recently – especially on-premise and among bartenders."
"Explorers" searching for "new options" are the target audience. The site is intentionally over-the-top. It features content developed in partnership with The Onion, America's Finest News Source.
The basic idea is to personify the three brands as three twenty-something guys who enjoy a good time. Old Overholt looks like a 19th century stevedore, Old Grand-Dad looks like a degenerate riverboat gambler, and Old Crow looks like the counterpart degenerate riverboat skipper. Their antics (in short films that can be viewed on the site) are as old as "A Hard Day's Night," but they get the idea across.
Beam has spent next to nothing promoting these three brands in the 26 years it has owned them, so it's good to see them finally do something. Old Overholt is good whiskey. Old Grand-Dad is very good whiskey. Old Crow not so much, although Old Crow Reserve is an improvement on the standard version.
Since all three brands are growing without support, Beam decided to see if it could boost them even more with a modest spend.
Will it work? Who knows? If we've learned anything these last few years, it's that anything is possible.