Wiser’s takes an unpretentious approach

The first spot in a new brand platform looks to show that drinking great whisky doesn't have to be complicated.

J.P. Wiser’s wants Canadians to know that drinking whisky can be simpler than they might think in the first TV spot for its new “Tastes Like Whisky” campaign.

In the ad, a pair of rugged, bearded, well-dressed craftsmen row their boat out to an iceberg, using their tools to chip off a couple of cubes for a whisky glass. The whole time, a voiceover questions whether this is necessary, before showing a group of friends enjoying a drink in a regular bar and landing on the premise of the campaign: the only thing you need to enjoy whisky is good whisky.

The creative for the campaign is led by John St., with media buying by Media Experts.

“Tastes Like Whisky” replaces the “Wiserhood” platform that launched in 2008, most recently executed as “The Wiserfund” that saw “regular guys” given funding to escape uncomfortable or embarrassing situations. Humour and accessibility were the key elements of “Wiserhood,” and Laura Bruce, senior brand manager for Canadian whisky at Corby Spirit & Wine, says “Tastes Like Whisky” is an effort to maintain a relaxed approach to drinking whisky while also promoting the quality of the product.

“We know about our quality and how Wiser’s wins awards around the world, but we’ve never really spent much time letting consumers know that,” Bruce says. “That was something missing that we needed to bring into Wiser’s, but we still needed to keep some of the wit, because that was really well-received in ‘Wiserhood.’”

Bruce says the company and John St. did a great deal of consumer research leading up to the campaign, both into the typical J.P. Wiser’s drinker and drinkers of Canadian whisky as a whole. What they found was a desire for quality in their whisky, without any of the pretension that sometimes comes when brands lean into the “craftsman” angle, since that can be somewhat intimidating to consumers wary of running afoul of the “proper” way to drink whisky.

“The consumer is getting a bit weary of the clichés that go with whisky, because those aren’t what makes whisky taste amazing,” Bruce says. “It’s not pretentious, you don’t have to follow any rules, because if it’s great whisky, you can drink it out of a red Solo cup and it’ll still taste like great whisky. We’re still mentioning how long we’ve been around, because that is an easy way for consumers to identify that we must be doing something right, but we’re not going to tell you how to enjoy it, because that’s up to you.”

The TV spot – which will also run as pre-roll – is the beginning of the second phase of the “Tastes Like Whisky” campaign, which also includes digital display and a social push. The first phase launched in the fall, heavily utilizing in-retail, out-of-home and sampling events, as well as digital, radio and print, and focusing more exclusively on the quality angle. Bruce says this was a way to introduce the new platform to consumers and put support behind J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe ahead of what has traditionally been a popular whisky-buying season, while still giving the company room to market J.P. Wiser’s Hopped, a new product launching around the same time.

The ad debuted last week during the Blue Jays’ home opener, and will be tied closely to sports broadcasts during the baseball season and the Toronto Raptors’ playoff push. Whereas “Wiserhood” focused exclusively on J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe, Bruce adds that “Tastes Like Whisky” is better suited to act as a masterbrand campaign, and will be added to in support of other product variants that fall under the Wiser’s banner, which the company has more of now than in 2008.

“We’re planning on keeping this campaign, evolving and expanding on it into this fall and for the next few years,” she says.