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Exclusive: Jägermeister Unveils $15M Campaign, Targeting U.S. Turnaround

March 22, 2017

After a difficult period in which it’s been under siege from new competitors in its core on-premise shot occasion, Jägermeister is going back on the offensive this spring with a new $15 million above-the-line campaign and packaging update aimed at reclaiming its former position as the top liqueur brand in the U.S. market.

In 2015, Germany’s Mast–Jägermeister SE acquired longtime U.S. importer Sidney Frank Importing Co., which had built the brand into an on-premise juggernaut, reaching a high of nearly 2.9 million cases in 2008. Since then, with the entry of flavored whiskies and other upstarts into the shot occasion, Jägermeister has seen its U.S. volume erode significantly, slipping 4.6% to 1.7 million cases in 2016, according to Impact Databank.

In recent days, Sidney Frank Importing Co., now led by veteran drinks executive Jeff Popkin as CEO, was renamed Mast–Jägermeister U.S. But that’s only the beginning of Jägermeister’s U.S. plans for 2017.

On May 1, the brand will launch its new campaign, “Be the Meister,” aiming to position itself as a crafted product with a bold personality. The push will include TV advertising targeting 21-39-year-olds, as well as digital activations aimed at the 21-24-year-old set. “Jäger, which is German for hunter, represents the bold, irreverent side of the brand,” said Popkin in an interview with SND. “The Meister side of it is German engineering: the alchemy of how you bring 56 different ingredients together to form this perfect shot.”

Meanwhile, Jägermeister’s packaging has been upgraded with a fresh label design—emphasizing its 56 botanical ingredients—among other changes. While the company expects the new bottle to pop more on retail shelves, its core focus will remain bars and nightclubs. “This brand is only as healthy as its on-premise business,” said Popkin, adding that Jägermeister will also launch new on-premise-focused experiential initiatives looking ahead. With the changes, Popkin says the goal is to return Jägermeister to volume growth in the U.S. market this year.

While the U.S. remains its most important market, Mast-Jägermeister has seen its best results in other countries lately, with global sales up 3.5% to 7.1 million cases last year. Spain, Eastern Europe and Latin America all provided double-digit growth for the brand in 2016. —Shane English

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