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How Jack Daniel's Searched All Over the Country for the Best Bar Stories


IDEA: People in bars like to talk, especially when whiskey, preferably in copious amounts, has been consumed. Often, the stories are even about whiskey, insofar as it precipitated some memorable (though, often as not, half-forgotten) after-hours adventure in the hazy past.

For Jack Daniel's—which prides itself on its own rich, genuine brand story—it made sense, then, to collect real tales from real bars for a new campaign, presented on an evocative website, titled Tales of Mischief, Revelry and Whiskey, that serves as its own virtual gathering place.

"Storytelling is at the heart of the Jack Daniel's brand," said client brand director Laura Petry. "Everyone loves a good bar story. I do. You do. Your mom probably does, too. It's a shared experience and part of the reason we all go to bars in the first place. A great story is the trophy of a great night out. So it made sense to document and share these great stories with the world."

COPYWRITING: There are seven videos, along with 11 audio stories and six written stories. "We didn't script any of them," Petry said. "These stories are all 100 percent real, told by real people in their own words."

It's all here—stories of life, love, death, music, bouncers, animals, ducksitting and much more. The agency and brand spent two months finding the stories, first going to great bars they already knew—and then being directed to others.

"It became a countrywide game of telephone, with people telling us to talk to this guy or that girl," said Petry. "Ultimately, we probably heard about a thousand stories. And we picked the best ones for the site."

The brand appears in some tales, but not all. "We weren't going to force it," Petry said. "But we found that Jack was naturally a part of a lot of the stories, which is largely why this campaign felt so right for the brand."

FILMING/ART DIRECTION: Joe Roberts filmed the spots in June and July in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and New Orleans.

As documentary work, it required building trust with the subjects. "Honest storytelling is an intimate thing, so after we tracked down a number of potential stories, we had to establish a rapport with the bar owners, regulars, bouncers and 'that guy over by the jukebox,' " said Petry.

The art direction is painstakingly detailed in everything from the color grading to the hand-drawn story titles to the subtle animation in each rollover.

TALENT: "Some of our storytellers were naturals—great personalities with an enthusiastic delivery. They are the ones that ended up being featured in the videos," said Petry. Others were less comfortable, and did audio or written versions.

SOUND: The site's homepage has a bar atmosphere, with hushed chatter and glasses clinking softly in the background. "Within each audio story, you'll also hear an approach to the sound design similar to a podcast or NPR story," said Petry. "We really wanted to use sound to add another dimension to the site and really bring the stories to life."

MEDIA: The site is loosely organized to mirror the sense of anticipation and intrigue you might feel when you enter a new bar.

Rather than a grid, it offers "a series of graphic vignettes that softly fade into the darkness, revealing their stories upon cursor interaction with additional sound design and cinemagraph movement," Petry said. "We wanted to create a mixed-media collage; something that users could truly get lost in. While certainly not a first in Web design, it is a different approach to merging art and function."


Client: Jack Daniel’s
Agency: Arnold Worldwide
Executive Creative Directors: Wade Devers and Pete Johnson
Group Creative Director: Erik Enberg
Creative Directors: Travis Robertson and Greg Almeida
Art Directors: Travis Robertson and Daran Brossard
Copywriters: Greg Almeida and Madhu Kalyanaraman
Producers: Todd Buffum and Ben Ouellette
Arnold Audio Assistant: Nick Citrone
Backend Developer: MediaMonks
UI Developers: MediaMonks
UX Architect: Andy Dobbs
Planners: Kieron Monahan and Emily Brown
Quality Assurance Manager: Nate Read
Marketing Producers: Paul Nelson, Emily Brooks and Michelle Dravis
Business Affairs: Maria Rougvie
Production Company: MediaMonks
Creative Director: Jouke Vuurmans
Director: Joe Roberts
DP: Job Kraaijeveld
Producers: Nathalie Visser and Tim Ruiters

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