Why Matthew McConaughey Telling Wild Turkey’s Story Might Be a Good Thing

I’ve made it known in the past that I’m not a huge fan of whiskey tie ups with celebrities, especially when it seems like it is an all ego venture. I was thus guardedly curious when I saw that Kentucky bourbon distillery Wild Turkey, headed by the famous and humble Russell family, had hooked up with noted actor Matthew McConaughey to make him their new Creative Director. I watched the first fruit of this teaming – the short video you can see below at the end of this story – with some trepidation, afraid it might be just more fluff. But after watching it, I have this to say – if McConaughey can produce more of that kind of material, he is truly doing something which reaches beyond typical bourbon marketing to be more authentic to the tale of this brand.

As we highlighted recently, authenticity between whiskey labels and consumers, particularly millennials, is of growing importance as more and more brands pile into the market. To be sure Wild Turkey is a huge distillery, with a product more known for shooting then sipping. I’ve had the personal experience of visiting their facility, and after witnessing the Russells being as hands-on as they can with such an operation, I get the sense consumers won’t be led astray by McConaughey being brought in.

Matthew McConaughey

Actor Matthew McConaughey and the Russells of Wild Turkey (image via YouTube screen grab/Wild Turkey)

The actor, according to the distillery, “will serve as the chief storyteller for Wild Turkey both behind the camera and in front of it, reintroducing the world to the legendary Bourbon brand, starting with a series of television and digital advertising campaigns he is directing, which will launch in September.”

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“Wild Turkey has the history and qualities of a brand that depicts the dedication of someone to do something their own way – even if that way isn’t always the most popular,” said McConaughey in a prepared statement. “I want to help share their unique story, starting with a new ad campaign that I feel really captures the special essence of this brand while introducing itself like never before.”

“When making a movie, you have two hours to tell a story. Here I have 30 seconds to reintroduce the world to this authentic American brand that has helped shape an entire U.S. industry, Bourbon.  It will be a very interesting and fun challenge.”

McConaughey is said to have become interested in the Wild Turkey story when he first visited there a couple of years ago. He was particularly intrigued “by the three-generation family behind the Bourbon and the untold story of a truly iconic American brand.” I can echo that sentiment. There is a lot of bourbon lore to tell about Jimmy and Eddie Russell who, between them, have worked at the distillery for some 97 years.

“I’ve spent more than 60 years doing what I love every single day,” noted Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell. “Everyone at Wild Turkey is passionate about making whiskey, and making it the right way, never wavering from what we thought was best.”

“As we introduce a new generation to Wild Turkey, it was important to me to find someone who shares our passion and understands what makes Wild Turkey special.  After spending time with Matthew at the distillery, I was impressed by how much he knew about Wild Turkey and how interested he was in telling the world more about us. It is incredible to think that an Oscar winner would want to help tell Wild Turkey’s story, but like an extra scoop of ice cream on pecan pie, I will certainly take it.”

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