Move Over Santa! McConaughey’s Bringing Birds for Wild Turkey
Thanksgiving is the holiday in which we give thanks at the beginning of the meal and are throwing shade by the end of it. We ritually sacrifice a flightless bird and spend most of the night in bloated, fatty agony from eating too much. It’s also the time of year when Matthew McConaughey shows up at your door giving you one of those flightless sacrifices and sporting a Wild Turkey Bourbon hat.
In the summer of 2016, Wild Turkey Bourbon named Matthew McConaughey its creative director (the highest paid advertising creative director) and J. Walter Thompson (JWT) New York as its agency. As a way of saying “thanks” on Thanksgiving 2017, Wild Turkey had McConaughey and teams of volunteers deliver 4,500 turkeys (courtesy of Butterball) to the liquor company’s hometown of Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. Furthermore, Wild Turkey delivered 580 turkeys to the local food bank and nursing home and donated 50,000 meals to needy families. And it was all captured on video … well some it.
1. Matthew McConaughey – I can’t speak for his creative director skill. I’m sorry, I just don’t see how he is the highest paid advertising creative director. But McConaughey is a good actor and has something that most people don’t: “Watchability.” He’s always engaging. Every time he shows up, you look. You want to hang out with him and throughout this ad I got a kick out of watching McConaughey go from house to house to deliver turkeys and shoot the breeze with the folks of Lawrenceburg. Whether it was when he was on the road talking to fellow drivers or delivering a bird to a bride-to-be, the guy was just cool and the spot benefited from it.
2. Brand Presence – Wild Turkey Bourbon was everywhere. Intentionally. Whether it was starting in its Lawrenceburg headquarters, featuring its big guns such as master distiller Jimmy Russell, its logo on McConaughey’s ball cap, or the end scene where Wild Turkey Bourbon was being sipped, it did not go unnoticed. Usually I’m not big on in-your-face branding, but this one was warranted and well done.
1. Sentimentality – While the ad did feature Mr. Cool, it also played up that holiday sentimentality that runs through every holiday season ad. While it did not ham it up a much as some ads this season, it did play into the overly romantic feel that I just don’t roll with. I’m sorry. The whole Americana approach doesn’t work for me. I love ads that feature real America and its people, but not the ones that make it corny. While Wild Turkey didn’t make it too banal (thanks to McConaughey) it did enough for this viewer to go “Here we go again …”
2. Lack of the Food Bank – I would think for a holiday ad, and one that centered on giving, it would have featured McConaughey and the volunteers donating turkeys to those in need. Not here. You ask me, it looked like everyone in the ad could afford his or her own turkey. Instead, it just mentioned a local donation to the food bank. For a holiday ad that was walking that sentimental line, you think they’d have footage of such donations, but no; and the ad suffered from it.
Thanks to the acting chops and charm of its creative director Matthew McConaughey, Wild Turkey Bourbon was able to overcome its sentimental and suspiciously lacking ad. It had ample brand presence and was a nice bounce back from September’s Sang Our Song ad.
Imagine that dinner table discussion, right before your uncle divides the table with a political discussion…
Cliff rips some meat from the drumstick and delightfully chews it.
“Hank,” he says with a full mouth. “Nice bird.”
Hank nods. “Yeah, Matthew McConaughey gave it to us.”
Alright, alright, alright.