The unlikely  saviour of Southern Comfort?

The unlikely saviour of Southern Comfort?

It has been a strong first-half for Brown-Forman's portfolio of brands, but not all of them have hit the mark. Here, just-drinks takes a look at three that have done the company proud, and one that has blotted the copybook. Or has it?

Winners

  • Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey is only in its second year but has already paid off for Brown-Forman's innovations team. Whiskey flavour extensions are not as common as the ubiquitous vodka ones, but Tennessee Honey still posted a 50% global sales rise in first-half results on Wednesday. Even in the US, where the product was first launched, sales jumped by 20%, and the company is building a new cooperage in Alabama to keep with with demand. Don't expect Jack Daniel's Whipped Cream and Peanut Butter just yet, however - Brown-Forman executives say they plan to take it easy with further innovations to their core brand.
  • Russia's taste for vodka pushed Finlandia, which Brown-Forman bought in 2000, to 9% H1 sales growth, slightly below the double-digit sales growth it has enjoyed in the past decade. But it is still a good effort when other vodka makers in Russia, such as CEDC, have seen volumes slide. The brand is no doubt benefiting from an ongoing premiumisation trend in Russia that is seeing consumers either trade up to premium brands such as Finlandia or drop down to the country's significant non-taxed market.
  • Premiumisation was also in play with Brown-Forman's super and ultra-premium whiskey brands, such as Gentleman Jack and Woodford Reserve, which grew net sales by 21% in the first half. Gentleman Jack and fellow JD extension Jack Daniel's Single Barrel are both examples of Brown-Forman playing gentle with its key trademark. It doesn't want to repeat the mistakes Anheuser-Busch InBev recently admitted to making with Budweiser, saying it lost focus on the core value of the brand. 

Loser?

  • Pity poor Southern Comfort. It's a long-time brand that has suddenly found itself battling in a very competitive market place as spirits companies launch innovation after innovation. The range lost 5% in sales in first-half results, but it seems like change is around the corner. And it's all thanks to a fat man on a beach. Southern Comfort's recent ad campaign has raised a few eyebrows but since its launch in the US in August, sales in the country have rebounded and Brown-Forman is confident its unknown beachwalker will do the same in Australia and the UK, the brand's other key markets. It seems So-Co has regained some of its swagger.