Launching a classic canadian whisky brand in the u.s. with a high-profile espn fantasy football sponsorship & comedic sports-centric content series


In 2014, J.P. Wiser’s Whisky enjoyed the status of being the best-selling whisky brand in Canada -- but it had almost zero awareness in the United States.

Phear Creative was tasked with launching this “new” whisky in the U.S. while building a consumer fan base from the ground up. To do this, we took a step back to re-examine the typical whisky drinker in order to carve out a differentiating positioning and approach in a category dominated by “Serious Whiskys” for “Independent” and “Hardworking Men.”

Instead of imitating the pervasive over-seriousness, our research led us to leverage humor, the target’s light-hearted competitive nature and interest in all things sports as a way to breakthrough and connect. This was a whole new whisky drinker who was serious about whisky but even more serious about having a good time with his friends. Armed with those insights, we set out to celebrate those special moments where camaraderie between friends was built and to put J.P. Wiser’s at the center of the action. This took the form of a fully integrated, multi-channel campaign rooted in the idea of encouraging our target to “Make The Wiser Call.”

A series of vignettes bring to life the truths in these valuable moments of male bonding where someone from the group goes above and beyond and “Makes the Wiser Call” to ensure nothing stands in the way of good times.

Keying off the competitive nature of guys and the mock-heroism they feel when they’re in these situations, each was designed as a sports “play” from the J.P. Wiser’s Playbook. Complete with a play-by-play and color commentator voiceover. Taking our insight even further, each “play” was accompanied by a Monday Morning Quarterback-style segment wherein our commentators offer a comedic “post-game” analysis of the action.

To drive broad awareness, we partnered with ESPN, becoming the Official Spirits Sponsor of ESPN Fantasy Football for the 2014-2015 season. This partnership allowed us to place our digital video content where our J.P. Wiser’s guys are living and breathing competitive bonding. The campaign was also supported through on- and off-premise collateral and activations, social media, digital display ads, experiential programs and PR.

Through paid social, our campaign delivered brand awareness to over 4MM people within our target, reaching nearly 7MM impressions and close to 90K social engagements.

Digital video content on Facebook drove a 4,000% increase in engagement rate compared to non-video content.