Jack Daniel‘s poster at Embankment Station
I really hate when adverts suck me in. Even while my conscious mind fights the lure of a well-crafted piece of advertising I am drawn inexorably into an Altantic drift of interest and amusement. Fuckers.
For personal reasons Jack Daniel’s will always be somewhere close to my heart, but the essence of what their advertising says is something that strikes a chord even closer to home.
The JD brand is about tradition being a beautiful thing. It says that taking the time to wait for the maturing of good bourbon is as important as daily shifts of lugging barrels here and there. It says that the dynamic of work and rest is a good thing. JD invites you to partake of a drink that means more than a swift glug of something alcoholic to numb the senses.
Tradition is – or can be – a beautiful thing. But before I wax lyrical in order to make some kind of comparison with church and a life of faith, I need to focus in on what this poster says in particular.
Ask a Barrelman how many people work at Jack Daniel’s and he’ll tell you “About half of them.”
How often do we consider the people around us to be slackers? To hear of our friends’ working hours and feel envy, to read of the salaries of those in the media and wonder how deserved that is, to glance at our neighbour and wonder about their own working life.
It’s easy to resort to a rosy glow of history to make some kind of sociological point, but I do find myself wondering about working hours and working attitudes of now compared to those in the past. In this country of ours we exploit the esoteric knowledge base of employees more than practical skills: hedge fund managers on millions, a whole industry based on “management consultancy”, lawyers revered over teachers. This kind of working makes it difficult to encourage the dynamic of ebb and flow, work and rest, play and practicality. At what point do we wait for maturation?
This advert works because it invites the busy London commuters with their astronomical mortgages and stressful work environments to imagine a life where the barrels have been set and the porch benches rock gently in the calm breeze.