By Barry Janoff
January 26, 2017: Calling it "the largest partnership with a professional sports league in the brand’s history," Jack Daniel’s has signed a deal making it an official marketing partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League and USA Basketball.
The alliance will have its first public showing during the NBA All-Star Game next month in New Orleans.
Financial terms of the multi-year deal were not disclosed.
The NBA’s most recent partnership in the spirits category was a multi-year pact signed with Diageo in 2013 that included Sean "Diddy" Combs and Diego’s Ciroc premium vodka.
In 2010, the NBA broke marketing ground by signing a multi-year deal with Bacardi.
As with its previous deals in the spirits category, the Jack Daniel’s agreement comes with multi-medial marketing that will include a strong "Drink Responsibly" message.
As a league whose audience includes kids and families, the NBA knows it has to tread carefully when it comes to marketing spirits and alcohol. According to a recent study commissioned by the NCAA, alcohol use among student-athletes is on the decline but "about 80% of student-athletes reported alcohol use in the past year."
Initial marketing features a statue of Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel, who founded the company in the 1870s, alongside a basketball. One ad reads, "Jack Daniel stood only 5’2", but as an official NBA partner we’re feeling much taller."
Jack Daniel’s said it would develop NBA-themed programs at retail stores and create custom marketing and advertising campaigns. The Lynchburg, Tenn.-based company said it would also host a variety of events, media and hospitality programs throughout the NBA, WNBA, NBA D-League and USA Basketball.
Jack Daniel’s lead agency is Arnold Worldwide, Boston.
The division of Brown-Forman is currently partnered with five NBA teams: the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.
"We are thrilled to be entering into this partnership and look forward to a mutually beneficial relationship with the NBA for years to come," John Higgins, vp-brand director for Jack Daniel’s North America, said in a statement.
"The NBA is a perfect fit for Jack Daniel’s as we both share the same values of integrity, loyalty and community. We couldn’t be more excited for our fans and consumers who love the great sport of basketball," said Higgins.
Late last year, to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2016, Jack Daniel’s launched a marketing campaign that focused on the people who live in its home town of Lynchburg.
At the NBA All-Star Game, Jack Daniel’s will serve as a partner for the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game and will open Jack Daniel’s House No. 7, its hospitality and experiential event.
Jack Daniel’s House No. 7 will be open for two nights to host "musical performances, guest rooms with unique programming, eclectic eats inspired by southern cuisine, and basketball-themed activities."
According to Emilio Collins, evp-global partnerships for the NBA, "We are proud to partner with Jack Daniel’s, an iconic brand with a rich history and a reputation for unique and innovative marketing. Our new partnership creates a wealth of opportunities for us to connect with new and longtime fans and celebrate our game."
In addition to its namesake Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s brands include Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails.
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