In Kentucky, we have a fine tradition of distilling bourbon whiskey. According to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association, Kentucky bourbon production has increased more than 315% in the past 16 years, and the number of bourbon barrels aging in Kentucky warehouses is at a 48-year high. In fact, for every person living in Kentucky, there are roughly 1.5 barrels of bourbon.

I bring this up not because I want to convert you to drinking bourbon (although I am happy to share my favourites). Rather, it helps provide some context for an interesting example in storytelling for brands.

Wild Turkey has partnered with Matthew McConaughey to tell its local story about bourbon to an international audience.
Wild Turkey has partnered with Matthew McConaughey to tell its local story about bourbon to an international audience.

This summer, Wild Turkey announced it is partnering with Matthew McConaughey as a creative director to tell its brand story. In Kentucky, it was covered by local news due to its relevance to one of the state’s premiere industries. 

However, the announcement and the short film created for the announcement received some interesting reactions locally in Kentucky: Why on earth does Wild Turkey need to tell its story? We all know about Wild Turkey and the Russell family.

Kentuckians may know the Wild Turkey story, but it is highly likely that bourbon drinkers in New York, London, and Tokyo do not. In the past decade, bourbon has become an acquired taste in new markets around the world. This could explain a great deal about why Wild Turkey — “unintroduced to many” — wants to tell its story in such a high-profile way.

It will definitely be interesting to watch the story unfold. You can follow it on the official Wild Turkey YouTube channel, where it has already added a new 30-second spot, “Wild Turkey Bourbon: The Journey Begins.”

Storytelling like this is the future of digital marketing.

Digital media is most effective when it brings people together and creates a connection. We already see the success of skilled storytelling in news, which can drive higher engagement through increased time on site. However, storytelling can also help lift up the marketing services we provide to clients.

At Gannett, we help our clients connect with customers. We do that across our 100+ local USA TODAY NETWORK markets, and we also do that at a corporate level. It’s the reason we created our new branding studio, Get Creative.

We want to use our expertise in storytelling, branded content, 360-degree video, and Virtual Reality technology, and other high-impact storytelling tools to solve brand marketing challenges for our clients.

News media companies are uniquely skilled at storytelling. We have been telling stories for hundreds of years and will continue to do so in the future.

Translating this effectively into marketing campaigns requires actionable customer insights, marketing expertise, and optimisation.

The news media company of the future must be able to combine its inherent expertise in storytelling with deep knowledge in digital marketing across platforms.