Sunday, February 1, 2004

Jack Daniel's aims for cowboys

Whiskey-maker adding clothing

Associated Press

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. - The makers of Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey raise their glasses to cowboys - and hope the icon of the West will return the tribute by buying fancy duds bearing the company's logo.

In an effort to boost sales, the company seeks to tap into the popular connection between the whiskey and the West.

"Cowboys would be more likely to drink Jack Daniel's than the average American," said John Hayes, brand director for the whiskey.

"It's always been perceived as a drink with a lot of masculinity to it."

Brown-Forman of Louisville owns America's top-selling whiskey brand, made in this small town about 75 miles southeast of Nashville.

The company said about 72 percent of regular Jack Daniel's drinkers are men and most are aged 21 to 34.

The company now emphasizes its cowboy connection by sponsoring Professional Bull Riders and Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association events, including bull-riding brothers Cory and Evan Rasch on the pro circuit.

But there's more Western marketing on the way.

Jack Daniel's is rolling out woven printed and solid shirts, T-shirts, and polo shirts bearing the company's name. This clothes will be accessorized with belt buckles, cowboy hats, wallets and watches.

Wrangler will manufacture the clothing line, scheduled to be available at Western wear stores by March.

The T-shirts are expected to cost $15 to $20 each. The style-conscious cowboy will have the opportunity to spend up to $130 for a fur felt hat.

"It's one big Western program," said Janna Markle, Brown-Forman's director of brand licensing. "Jack Daniel's always has been connected to country and western."

After sales declines in recent years, consumption of whiskey increased 1.4 percent in 2003, he said.

"What's generally driving the market is a general resurgence of distilled spirits across the board," said David Ozgo, an economist with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States.

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