Authenticity is Trending Up: A NewsCred Talk with Brown-Forman VP Jason Loehr - Insights
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Authenticity is Trending Up: A NewsCred Talk with Brown-Forman VP Jason Loehr

by NewsCredSeptember 5, 2013

“Authenticity is trending up,” said Jason Loehr, launching into a presentation on #RealTalk in content marketing. That’s good news for marketers who care about authenticity in storytelling, and even better news coming from the VP, Director of Global Media & Digital Marketing at Brown-Forman, the company behind clever marketing for brands like Jack Daniel’s and Southern Comfort.


Jason Loehr, photo by Laura June Kirsch

Loehr acknowledged a worry that’s probably not uncommon among marketers: is marketing inherently opposed to authenticity? The answer was a resounding “no way.” At 632 on Hudson for one of NewsCred’s Content&Cocktails sessions, Loehr instructed a room of content marketers, advertisers, and publishers on how to keep it real.


Content&Cocktails Q&A, photo by Laura June Kirsch

In case you missed it, here were the key takeaways from Loehr’s entertaining and memorable talk.

1. When it comes to marketing, tell — don’t sell.

The promise your brand makes to consumers should come with personality and a history behind it. Unless you’ve grabbed a brand identity out of thin air, your company has a history. It doesn’t matter if you’re a three-month-old start-up or Jack Daniel’s; share your story in an engaging and original way, and the people will come.

2. Open your doors.

While Jack Daniel’s, one of Brown-Forman’s signature brands, has the benefit of literal distillery doors to open to people, this point is really about openness in general. Openness can also mean answering customer queries on a personal basis via social media, or it can relate to internal operations. Jack Daniel’s, for instance, makes a point of involving everyone from finance to distillery tour guides in getting feedback on marketing initiatives at the corporate level.

3. Be consistent.

Brown-Forman uses archetypes to identify audience personas as well as brand personas. This is a great tactic and touchstone to maintain visual and verbal consistency. Another awesome question marketers can ask themselves to determine if their visual branding is working? “Can someone tell what brand this is on Facebook or Twitter without seeing the proper name?”

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4. Make it easy for others to tell your story.

Having a strong, authentic story in the first place doesn’t hurt, of course. But smartly distributing that story is key – Jack Daniel’s puts it right on their bottle. Content channels such as social media are also a useful place to tell a story about your brand.

5. Be humble, especially with success.

Jack Daniel’s once sent “what was dubbed the ‘nicest cease and desist letter ever’,” to an author who used their branding as a book cover. Yeah, they’re a massive company that needs to protect their brand identity – but they can also recognize when piracy is a form of flattery (ie: the zillions of “Jack Daniel’s” shirts you see at any tourist destination). Sometimes, you need to let go of your ego to let your brand ambassadors do the talking.

6. “Relevance, with a shot of aspiration.” – Jason Loehr

In order to capture a younger demographic and to ensure the health of the brand in years to come, Jack Daniel’s has been integrating real-time marketing into their storytelling mix. With concerts featuring bands like the Old 97s and Capital Cities in venues like the Statue of Liberty and the Playboy Mansion, these events produce tons of tweets and instagrams that keeps their brand in the moment and top of mind.


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7. Be remarkable.

According to Loehr, being remarkable is: “the only thing you should even worry about.” One of the litmus tests he recommends is an acronym: WAGAS, or, Would Anyone Give A Shit. Step back before you run a campaign or post content, and ask yourself, “is this actually going to connect and be interesting for someone?”


Content&Cocktails Q&A, photo by Laura June Kirsch

Stay tuned for more updates on future Content&Cocktails sessions, and special thanks to Jason and everyone who came out last night. You can check out the rest of last night’s photos here. The next Content&Cocktails event will be held on May 20th at Neuehouse, and features Anthony Casalena, CEO and Founder, Squarespace, and Todd Simmons, Creative Director, Wolff Olins. Looking forward to seeing you there!