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You may not be anywhere near the office water cooler right now, but we still want to spotlight the most talked about developments from the brands that should be on your radar. Today, we take a look at Longbranch bourbon’s offbeat, minimalist first ads.

Following in the footsteps of fellow actor Ryan Reynolds, Matt McConaughey directs the first campaign for his Longbranch bourbon. Reynolds has become an ad industry darling thanks to his hands-on role in subversive ads for Aviation Gin. which was just sold to Diageo for $610 million.

Now, McConaughey steps behind the camera, with the help of AKQA, to create the first spots for Longbranch bourbon. McConaughey spent two years crafting the taste of the bourbon with Wild Turkey’s master distiller. The development of the product and the new campaign are the culmination of McConaughey’s four-year relationship with the iconic American bourbon brand, which is owned by the Campari Group.

 
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Upon being approached  to be a Wild Turkey spokesperson in 2016, McConaughey opted to take it a step further by producing a series of short films for the brand. He has since served as Wild Turkey’s creative director. This month, the relationship hits a new level as he directs and stars in his first campaign for the Longbranch brand he co-created. Entitled, ’Wonder What If,’ the global campaign is meant to tap into the power of wonder and curiosity.

If you like the Lincoln ads, you’ll like this one

There’s a famous Howard Stern interview in which Stern asks McConaughey to explain why he was arrested while playing the bongos naked. McConaughey answered that the smell of the flowers wafting inside was so intoxicating that he decided to throw the windows wide open and blissfully conduct a loud, in-the-raw jam until the police showed up. Through this lens, this commercial makes a lot of sense — as do the infamous Lincoln commercials (this Jim Carrey-starring SNL parody is arguably the best one,)

Much like the Lincoln commercials there is an offbeat sensibility and a winking eye. Viewers get the sense that, right after the shoot, he headed back to his bongos.

The spot was developed through a series of virtual brainstorm sessions, per the press release, and shot with minimal equipment in a remote location. “The challenge to do more with less only proved to unleash the team’s ingenuity, and in authentic Longbranch fashion, sparked even more passion and imagination.”

Small batch bourbon is a big opportunity

Creating a high-profile entrant into the small batch bourbon category is an opportunistic move, for the Campari Group and McConaughey. Bourbon was the third-fastest growing spirits category in the US, last year, with more than $1 billion in sales.

It appears to pandemic-proof as well. Bourbon sales are up 23.3% (for 52 weeks ending Sept. 5) and up 38.3% for the past 26 weeks, per the latest Nielsen figures.

The category shows no signs of slowing especially now that the Kentucky  product is now being exported more readily. No wonder Campari is wondering: what if?