Localizing a brand and developing new ways to activate.

Superunion • Cape Town, SA



The craft movement has been a challenge for legacy whiskey brands for about a decade. Across the US and Europe, new distilleries open up frequently enough that drinkers are never short for choice on what to try. Jameson, a brand that’s always staked its reputation on taste, has seen these challenges first hand, with consumers everywhere that are interested in loyalty and more interested in exploration. Everywhere, that is, but South Africa. Jameson is a massive badge brand in SA, where the craft movement has focused primarily on gin. The two biggest whiskeys, Jameson and Johnnie Walker, are in an all out war, made even more challenging by the fact that the brands’ local reputations don’t match those abroad. 

Jameson asked us to help with this, reconciling their global brand toolkit to local drinkers - primarily men. We set out to explore Jameson in the context of South Africa. What does confidence mean? How are men drinking? And what parts of drinking rituals can we build experiences around?

The Work

We started by building out a localized version of the Jameson brand compass to express the regional nuances of what Jameson meant to South Africans, and built profiles of how key tenets of the Jameson brand connected with local consumers. In addition to our traditional research, we staked out six Joburg nightclubs to study how people drink, where we learned about Xhosa drinking rituals and differing behaviors around serving alcohol.

We used these learnings - plus a few hundred photos - to build a visual map of nightclub and tavern environments and were able to walk the client through what a typical night of drinking looked like for various consumers. We mapped against different journey moments and pain points to uncover the best opportunities for activation and experience, and prototyped a variety of solutions for service, delivery and pouring. Ultimately, we helped Jameson better understand the ways to both extend and deepen consumers’ experience with the brand beyond their existing activation moments.

My role, specifically

  • Strategy lead: consumer journey mapping, activation development

  • Built out localized brand compass

  • On/off-trade visits with team, documentation