Bourbon Industry

Southern Comfort goes to the beauty parlor and likes it

The gentleman in Southern Comfort's "Shampoo" television ad isn't the typical salon fixture, but he oozes confidence anyway.
The gentleman in Southern Comfort's "Shampoo" television ad isn't the typical salon fixture, but he oozes confidence anyway.

Southern Comfort wants men to know: It's OK to get your hair washed at a beauty parlor. And like it, even.

The drink's parent company, Louisville-based Brown-Forman, launched the latest spot in its "Whatever's Comfortable" campaign featuring their fruit-, spice- and whiskey-flavored liqueur on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball during the Cincinnati Reds game against the St. Louis Cardinals.

To the thrumming bass of soul singer Lou Johnson's The Beat, the ad features a handlebar-mustachioed man luxuriating as he has his hair shampooed and keeps a glass of "SoCo" on the side. A woman across the salon gives him a subtle smile of acknowledgment. Are they there together? Will they be later? Who knows?

It's all about "whatever's comfortable," being confident enough to like what you like and who you are, according to ad agency Wieden + Kennedy, which designed the ad.

The global campaign "champions the attitude it takes to be yourself, and celebrates those people who captivate us because of it. In 'Shampoo' we meet a character who embodies this confidence and attitude. He may not seem like your typical salon go-er, but he's comfortable with it. This is how he cares for his hair," according to the agency's website.

"We want to champion consumers to 'be their awesome selves' and that attitude comes out through this work," said Mark Bacon, Brown-Forman senior vice president and managing director for Southern Comfort. "We're comfortable being Southern Comfort and we want our consumers to embody that same attitude about themselves."

Brown-Forman kicked off the "Whatever's Comfortable" campaign last year with the eyebrow-raising (and award-winning) "Beach," which featured a generously gutted man walking the beach in a red Speedo and ankle-high cowboy boots, Southern Comfort in hand.

The multimillion-dollar campaign apparently helped turn around the brand's slumping sales; Brown-Forman reported that sales in the United States showed a 6 percent turnaround trend leading to a 1 percent gain year over year in sales, the first growth since 2008.

Additional TV spots focused on the Southern Comfort Lime and Southern Comfort Bold Black Cherry coming later this summer. Southern Comfort is poised to be largest spirits TV advertiser in the nation.

So get used to men flaunting "their awesome selves."


Watch the ad: