Brands & Merch Howdy Partner

Howdy Partner #3: Frank Sinatra wants you to meet his mate, Justin Bieber wants your parents’ cash

By | Published on Thursday 17 January 2013

Jack Daniel's Sinatra Select

The world of brand partnerships is a strange one at the best of times, but since last we spoke there have been moments when reporting on these things has meant having one hand on the keyboard typing and the other frantically pinching any and all exposed skin to make sure we’re not in the grips of some deranged fever dream. I mean, as if Snoop Dogg re-recording one of his tracks to promote Hot Pockets wasn’t enough, Christmas was officially opened last year with the words, “Well, hello. Happy holidizzle, y’all” at the beginning of an ADIDAS-sponsored retelling of ‘A Christmas Carol’.

We’d just about recovered from that, when Jack Daniels announced a new partnership with the Frank Sinatra estate to market a special commemorative Ol’ Blue Eyes whiskey, called Sinatra Select. Some people get special stamps made in their honour, but Sinatra was of course famously critical of the postal service (well, he might have been).

Had this been the UK – and perhaps a hook up between Val Doonican’s hiers and Famous Grouse – then we would have been warned about the need to drink responsibly. Val would have had a sip of this stuff once a year at Christmas, we’d have been be told. He was a good man. A fair man. A borderline tee-total man. Not so in the US.

“Frank and Jack literally spent years flying around the globe together”, barked Jack Daniels rep Jim Perry. “Wherever Frank went, Jack Daniel’s was by his side”.

Announcing that the product would be launched with a special “interactive tasting and listening experience” at Las Vegas’s McCarren International Airport, he added: “We are very excited about the Las Vegas airport installation. We feel that our airport installation will engage consumers in the story of the great friendship between Frank and Jack as well as educate them about the unique craftsmanship of this exclusive whiskey”.

And that’s all lovely, though didn’t he just make it sound like Frank Sinatra was a man who staggered around airports and aeroplanes with a bottle of whiskey in his hand, pretending the bottle was an actual person. Not just a person, but a “great friend”.

You’d think the company that administers such deals on behalf of the Sinatra estate might want to play this down a bit. Never fear, Frank Sinatra Enterprises co-chairman Robert Finkelstein is here. He told Billboard: “He used to call it Daniels, not Jack. And if you went to dinner, there’d be a bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the table and glasses about half-full of ice, and he would generally pour it right from the table”.

Yeah, that’s balanced it right out – it wasn’t just a flying thing, Sinatra was a whiskey drunk at home too. He even had his own nickname for it, and would force visitors to his house to get acquainted with his bosom buddy. ‘Ah Daniels, tell that story about the time we were got hammered on that plane. No, you sit down and LISTEN to what Daniels has to say!’ Great days.

Still, at least this is a partnership that seems to endorse a product Sinatra would actually have used. Justin Bieber, who has now launched his own version of most products in the world, has been forced to move into even more bizarre territory than a nail varnish called One Less Lonely Girl.

Possibly while under the influence of marijuana, Bieber recently agreed to lend his name to a pre-paid debit card, operated by a company called BillMyParents.

Announcing the partnership, the company’s Chairman and CEO Mike McCoy said: “In addition to his many musical talents, Justin Bieber is a smart, motivated and socially conscious artist who actively works to have a positive social influence on his tens of millions of fans worldwide. Our mission is to help families teach responsible spending habits. By combining our new teen pre-paid debit card with Justin’s vast reach and financial educational materials, we can empower countless families with teens to think about responsible spending in a new and better way”.

Step one in any mission to encourage responsible spending, you’d think, would probably be not calling your company BillMyParents. But, hey, I’m no financial expert. Possibly not charging membership fees and penalty charges for simple things like withdrawals and failing to use the card would be step two. Or maybe I’m getting this all mixed up – it’s possible that Bieber is hoping that his fans just won’t sign up for a card that charges you to do what banks will let you do for free, thus teaching themselves a valuable lesson about sensibly using money.

He’s a smart one, that Justin. Next, I assume he’s going to endorse a sub-prime mortgage, or perhaps the entire US government deficit.