Why Jameson is giving out free tattoos

The whiskey brand is emphasizing its accessibility and creating a link to summer with a parlor at Toronto's Stackt market.

alcohol-beverage-cocktail-40592Jameson is looking to make its brand connection permanent by offering free tattoos to celebrate the launch of a special edition whiskey.

Working with experiential agency Somewherelse, as well as tattoo artists from studios Inkbox and Ink&Water, the brand is providing free permanent and temporary ink during the first two weekends of August at Stackt, a market and event space in Toronto constructed from shipping containers (which has seen numerous spaces set up from other brands).

Consumers tend to think of whiskey as a winter drink, says Jameson brand manager Alice Carroll. But the brand’s Caskmates IPA edition whiskey (which is aged in beer barrels) gives it a connection to beer that “allows the brand to play in the summer,” especially when made into cocktails with soda water and lime, or tonic and orange, a refreshing alternative to suds on a beer garden patio. Globally, Jameson has been exploring further beer and whiskey variations, and it launched the Caskmates Beau’s Edition, which was exclusive to Ontario and aged in barrels from craft brewery Beau’s, which is based in the province.

When it comes to the competition, Carroll says Jameson is seeing more whiskey brands dip their toes into beer territory. Carroll tells strategy that what makes Jameson stand apart from its competition is its positioning as an accessible brand in terms of price and perception, rather than one that touts the benefits of the different types of wood or the complexity of its distillation process.

To that end, the brand is intentionally hosting the tattoo execution during the day, rather that at night, to make it more casual, approachable and responsible. Brand ambassadors will be on site to explain the terms and assist with waivers (she adds that no alcohol can be consumed before a needle touches skin and purchase of a Jameson product is not a requirement).

Doing the tattoos during the day and at a place like Stackt is also less intimidating than a tattoo parlour. According to Carroll, Stackt is “something new and cool and drawing an eclectic mix of pop-ups, including the Inkbox guys,” and will generating interest with Jameson consumers because of its novelty. The brand is looking to host future events at Stackt that will celebrate other craft makers to parallel the brand’s beer-infused whiskey concepts.

Toronto tattoo artist Mr. Koo, of Ink&Water, has come up with 20 new designs, she says, each completely unique to the event, something that appealed to the brand as he’s “creating pieces of art specifically for the consumer,” rather than doing a series of cliched temporary logo tattoos. He is also designing the brand’s event space “Hop Up Bar” exterior too, and has painted the design.