Gruppo Campari has been the corporate owner of the Wild Turkey Distillery since 2009. In a very interesting move, they have named actor Matthew McConaughey as the Creative Director for Wild Turkey and its signature bourbons. According to reports, he signed a multi-year deal that will have him writing and creating advertising spots for the bourbon brand in addition to appearing in ads for it.
Often the hire is perceived as a stunt, but Melanie Batchelor, senior marketing director of whiskey for Wild Turkey’s parent company, Gruppo Campari, says that isn’t the case this time.
“I know that [celebrity creative director] can be a title that’s talked about by a number of other companies, but our experience has been that Matthew has had an extremely high level of engagement,” said Batchelor. “He’s been involved in every single piece of the process, from writing the ads—he’s obviously starring in the ads, and he’s also directing the ads—so he’s both in front of and behind the camera.”
The ads mark the first time that McConaughey, who has also appeared in ads for brands like Lincoln, has served as a director.
“When making a movie, you have two hours to tell a story,” said McConaughey in a statement. “Here I have 30 seconds to reintroduce the world to this authentic American brand that has helped shape an entire U.S. industry: bourbon. It will be a very interesting and fun challenge.”
I will admit to thinking when I heard the news that it was a joke. However, after seeing the video short that he produced below, I’ve changed my mind. I really don’t think Master Distillers Jimmy and Eddie Russell would have appeared in the video if McConaughey wasn’t serious about it and about their bourbon.
We toured the distillery after attending the NRA Annual Meeting. I remember our tour guide was a salty old former USMC drill instructor from Salisbury, North Carolina. We talked bourbon and Cheerwine. Watching the video, it reminds me of both the unique location of the Wild Turkey Distillery overlooking the Kentucky River and of the tour we had.
I guess if having McConaughey on board as creative director pays off for Campari, executives in Sesto San Giovanni will gladly be saying, “Alright, alright, alright”, with an Italian accent. I think they will also be trading their Negronis for Boulvardiers as it combines two of their signature products.