Brown-Forman is best-known internationally as the maker of that quintessential spirit of the American South, Jack Daniel's. Its portfolio also includes a compact collection of other premium whiskies (including super-premium Woodford Reserve and Old Forester) as well as Finlandia vodka, Herradura and El Jimador tequila, Chambord liqueur and California's super-premium Sonoma-Cutrer wines. It is also the exclusive distributor of US-made Korbel champagne. Until recently, it was also the home of another Southern classic, Southern Comfort. That was sold to rival Sazerac in 2016. The smaller company also acquired a collection of other non-core Brown-Forman brands - Early Times, Canadian Mist and Collingwood - in 2020. Other recent acquisitions include Fords Gin and the Part Time Rangers ready-to-drink range. For many years, Brown-Forman also operated another division marketing fine china, crystal and other luxury goods. It took the decision in 2005 to focus on the drinks business, and sold off all its china and dinnerware brands. It has an international distribution partnership in some countries with Bacardi. However, its comparatively small size, and the global appeal of its lead brand, makes Brown-Forman a likely eventual target for a larger buyer, but only if the price is generous enough to sway its controlling shareholders, the Brown family. Jack Daniel's dominates the group's brand portfolio. It is the world's 4th largest premium spirits brand by both volumes and value, and the only one of the top five to have increased volume sales for each of the five years to 2019, topping out at 13.3m. That figure fell back finally in 2020 in the wake of the pandemic, settling at 12.3m cases with an estimated retail value of $2.95bn. The main brand is accompanied by a sizeable family of variants such as the enormously popular Tennessee Honey and other flavour spin-offs, premium Gentleman Jack and a collection of single-serve premixed RTDs. Tennessee Honey alone contributed an additional 2.0m cases sold, worth $550m at retail. Finlandia vodka is the group's next biggest brand at 2.4m cases, worth $485m, with Woodford Reserve contributing $430m from 1.0m cases. Lawson Whiting was appointed as group CEO in 2019. Despite the pandemic, net revenues hit a new high for the year to Apr 2021 of almost $3.5bn with record net income of $903m. The US accounts for half of revenues, with Australia, Germany and the UK as the most important international territories.
Capsule checked 7th September 2021
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Adbrands Daily Update 2nd Oct 2020: "First Timers". It's so rare for a spirits marketer to sign off on an original concept for its advertising. Like fragrance and fashion ads, so many campaigns are cut from near-identical cloth. In the case of spirits, there are four main concepts to choose from: an exploration of the brand's rich heritage; or perhaps the "moody loner with distinctive taste"; or maybe a group of edgy up and coming real-world milennial influencers; or alternatively it's just a montage of images of good friends sharing good times with good drinks. Energy BBDO have come up with something different for Jack Daniel's new global ad campaign. Notably too, more women feature here than men, which has got to be a positive. And here's one fun fact to finish with: you'd never think it but the entire ad was shot in Kyiv in Ukraine. Star director Ian Pons Jewell coordinated the socially distanced shoot with agency and client teams over Zoom.
Adbrands Daily Update 15th Jun 2020: Brown-Forman made further changes to its portfolio, selling off three smaller and lower-priced whiskies to Sazerac Company of New Orleans, which had acquired Southern Comfort in 2016. It now adds Early Times Kentucky bourbon, and the Canadian whiskies Canadian Mist and Collingwood. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Adbrands Weekly Update 7th Jun 2018: Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman announced solid performance for its year ended April and forecast continued growth for the current period. Net sales rose 8% to $3.25bn on the back of strong global demand for American whiskey. The Jack Daniel's brand family reported 8% growth, led by variants Tennessee Fire and Tennessee Honey, while super-premium sidelines such as Woodford Reserve achieved almost three times that percentage lift. Despite the topline increase, net income slipped 23% to $110m, partly as a result of a one-off $70m contribution to a new charitable foundation.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st May 2018: Paul Varga, CEO of spirits group Brown-Forman, which owns Jack Daniel's, will retire at the end of 2018. His successor will be Lawson Whiting, currently EVP & COO.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th May 2018: Jack Daniel's owner Brown-Forman made several changes to its senior management team. Mark McCallum was promoted group EVP & chief brands officer, with oversight of all marketing. John Hayes, previously CMP, was promoted to SVP & president, USA & Canada; taking the place of Mike Keyes, who becomes SVP & chief corporate affairs officer.
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