Success Story in Brief

A look at how a global liquor giant pushed outside it’s thinking comfort zones to stake its claim in a highly competitive market.


People who went through the Jack Daniels Experience

About Brown-Forman

Brown-Forman is the Australian arm of global liquor giant Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide, a division of Brown-Forman Corporation, one of the largest American-owned wine and spirits companies. Through Brown-Forman Beverages Worldwide, Brown-Forman produces and markets many of the most well-known and best-loved wines and spirits in the world.



To sell more products in a highly competitive market by continually pushing the envelope in developing cost-effective, “killer” marketing initiatives.

In Australia, Brown-Forman markets five principle spirits and liqueurs, the best known of which is Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey. Brown-Forman also markets a super-premium small batch bourbon, called Woodford Reserve, manufactured in Versailles, Kentucky.

The three other main brands that make up Brown-Forman’s Australian offering are Southern Comfort (the company’s second biggest seller, locally), Finlandia vodka, and Tuaca liqueur.


To develop new and better ways to come up with and implement “killer” marketing and promotional ideas.

The company was already using a process called ideation to generate new marketing ideas. This hybrid of “ideas” and “creation” had been employed successfully by team members to identify and develop new ways to sell more product.

Both in the US and globally, Brown-Forman boasts a long history and a strong tradition of premium liquor development and marketing. Outwardly, it is a conservative company. However, in Australia at least, Brown-Forman takes a highly creative, albeit somewhat radical, approach to brand marketing, positioning and promotion.

Brown-Forman does not follow the traditional approach to agency briefing (“This is what we’ve got to sell. This is what we want to achieve. Please come back with your ideas on how to help us make that happen.”). Rather, the company prefers to generate and test its brand positioning, promotional concepts and marketing strategies in house before commissioning agencies to implement its chosen strategies. Brown-Forman employs ideation to unearth these concepts and strategies.

Once a year all members of the Brown-Forman team—brand managers, sales reps, senior managers, distributor account managers, agency team members and even market researchers—get together to identify and develop their own marketing and promotion ideas.


Using “Whole Brain®” ideation to stretch outside the team’s thinking comfort zones. 

The first step in engaging with Brown-Forman was administering the HBDI®, which identified the thinking preferences of the team represented a relatively broad spectrum of profiles. However, there was, on average, an overall bias towards the creative/yellow and interpersonal/red thinking preferences.

Over the course of a day or so, each brand was put through the ideation hoops in a series of carefully developed and closely managed steps.

The steps are an extension of the Whole Brain® approach, which helps people understand their own and others’ thinking preferences and apply their thinking in such a way that they can work together more productively and creatively.


Marrying the V8 motor sport concept with the Jack Daniels Experience has been a real breakthrough for the brand.

“During the first round, in Adelaide, we had over 10,000 people go through the Jack Daniels Experience. And at a subsequent meeting in New Zealand, we had nearly 7,000 people go through—nearly 10% of the crowd,” Michael McShane (General Manager of Brown-Forman in Australia), says.

As of June 2006, Brown-Forman was the number one merchandise seller at V8 Supercar meetings, outperforming the Holden Racing Team and Ford Performance Racing in merchandise sales.

“With the whole V8 thing and the Experience, our whole Jack Daniels business is really solid, producing double-digit growth,” he says. “There is no doubt our investment in improving our ideation has paid off handsomely.”