Jack Daniel’s Seeks NBA Franchise In Lynchburg But May Be 19M Residents Short
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 at 11:42AM
NYSportsJournalism.com in Jack Daniel's, Lynchburg Tenn, NBA, NBA, sports marketing

By Barry Janoff

May 10, 2017: This past January, the NBA signed a deal naming Jack Daniel’s an official marketing partner of the NBA, WNBA, NBA Development League and USA Basketball, which Jack Daniel’s called "the largest partnership with a professional sports league in the brand’s history,"

In it’s first TV ad under the new deal, Jack Daniel’s has proposed what might likely be the largest idea in the brand’s history: Bringing an NBA franchise to their hometown of Lynchburg, Tenn. — population 572.

"We know it’s not the most exciting place in the world," a voiceover explains in the Jack Daniel’s TV spot, "Lynchburg Lights," breaking Wednesday night (May 10) on TNT during the Washington Wizards-Boston Celtics playoff game. "But we have no shortage of team spirit (and) we do know a thing or two about developing a franchise."

The idea is so outlandish that even NBA Hall of Famer and current TV analyst Bill Walton exclaims in a cameo spot, "What!?"

The humorous spot makes its pitch by continuing the down-home attitude of recent Jack Daniel’s spots, which shows that what Lynchburg might lack in size it makes up for in friendly residents and the dedication of the workers at Jack Daniel’s.

In this spot, people show their passion for the league by building a mock-up of an NBA arena, creating banners welcoming the NBA to town and even running a front-page story on the town’s newspaper, "Lynchburg Looks To Score Big With NBA."

Foam fingers declare, "We're No. 7," a reference to Jack Daniel's namesake Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey.

The NBA has not officially accepted or denied Jack Daniel’s offer.

However, earlier this year, when talking about possible future NBA expansion, commissioner Adam Silver offered some parameters.

"While we have no immediate plans to expand the NBA, one of the things that we look at is whether expanding would be additive to the league as a whole," said Silver.

On the short list of potential NBA expansion sites is Mexico City.

"In terms of a franchise in Mexico City, it's something that we're going to look at," said Silver. "This is a competitive market, well over 20 million people," or about 19,999,428 more residents than Lynchburg.

None of this has deterred the town from seeking its NBA dream. As a voiceover in the 30-second spot offers, "Jack Daniel’s. The most exciting thing about Lynchburg, TN . . .  for now."

The campaign also includes Internet and social media.

Jack Daniel’s lead agency is Arnold Worldwide, Boston.

John Higgins, vp-brand director for Jack Daniel’s North America, hinted at Lynchburg’s grandiose plans when the deal with the NBA was signed.

"The NBA is a perfect fit for Jack Daniel’s as we both share the same values of integrity, loyalty and community. We couldn’t be more excited for our fans and consumers who love the great sport of basketball," Higgins said in a statement.

Jack Daniel’s has been aggressive with its new NBA deal, including activation during All-Star Game week in New Orleans in February and initial NBA creative showing a statue of Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel, who founded the company in the 1870s, alongside a basketball. One ad read, "Jack Daniel stood only 5’2", but as an official NBA partner we’re feeling much taller.”

The division of Brown-Forman is currently partnered with five NBA teams: the Atlanta Hawks, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs.

As with its previous deals in the spirits category, the Jack Daniel’s NBA alliance comes with a strong "Drink Responsibly" message.

As a league whose audience includes kids and families, the NBA knows it has to tread carefully when it comes to marketing spirits and alcohol. According to a recent study commissioned by the NCAA, alcohol use among student-athletes is on the decline but "about 80% of student-athletes reported alcohol use in the past year."

In addition to its namesake Old No. 7 Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s brands include Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Jack Daniel’s Sinatra Select and Jack Daniel’s Country Cocktails.

NBA Lifts Marketing Spirits With Jack Daniel’s

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