Legendary Jack Daniel's Ad Man Ted Simmons Honored with AAF Silver Medal Award

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Distinguished award recognizes outstanding success, originality & contributions to advertising industry.

Ted Simmons, who began creating ads for Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey in 1967 as a young copywriter and nurtured the brand’s advertising to help make Jack Daniel’s the world’s top-selling whiskey, has received the American Advertising Federation (AAF) Silver Medal Award for outstanding contributions in the ad industry.

Simmons, former chairman of Arnold Worldwide-St. Louis and currently a consultant to the Boston-based ad agency, received the Silver Medal from The Ad Club of St. Louis, which presented the distinguished award to Simmons for original creative ability, advertising success and his contributions to the industry.

Betsy Heck, president of Ad Club of St. Louis, said, “The AAF Silver Medal is not awarded every year. It is a special award bestowed upon ‘the best of the best’ and the leaders in our industry. Its winners show a consistent, high level of original thinking throughout their careers.

“Anyone who has viewed Ted Simmons’ work over the years knows that he has met these standards -- and more,” said Ms. Heck. Previous Silver Medal honorees in St. Louis include broadcaster Jack Buck, KMOX radio executive Robert Hyland, Anheuser-Busch executive Michael Roarty and advertising executive Charles Claggett, Sr. Ad Club of St. Louis is AAF’s local affiliate.

In accepting the Silver Medal, in his soft-spoken manner Simmons said, “I have been fortunate to be among the guardians of an American icon brand and the small town of Lynchburg, Tennessee where the product is made. In advertising, we have tried to reflect the authentic values of people who live and work in Lynchburg and let those values shape the persona of the brand itself.”

“Hundreds of talented people in the St. Louis advertising community have worked on Jack Daniel’s ad campaigns over the years and I accept this award on behalf of all of them.” Simmons said.

Simmons started his career as a copywriter at Gardner Advertising, which won the Jack Daniel’s account in 1954 when the brand was selling about 100,000 cases a year. Back then, every drop of Jack Daniel’s was distilled in rural Lynchburg and today every drop is still produced there. Simmons’ firm Arnold Worldwide today is the brand’s global agency-of-record and, now, more than 8.5 million cases of Jack Daniel’s sell annually around the world.

"The role of Jack Daniel’s advertising since the beginning was not to 'sell whiskey' as much as it has been to communicate the story of the brand," said Simmons, whose own agency, Simmons-Durham, handled the Jack Daniel’s account from 1985 to 2001. Boston-based Arnold Worldwide bought Simmons-Durham in 2001. After June 1 the Jack Daniel’s account will be handled by Arnold Worldwide’s Boston office.

“The people of Lynchburg who appeared in many print ads and television commercials -- those who work at the distillery, gather at the hardware store or drink coffee at the Iron Kettle Cafe -- helped create a strong connection between the brand and consumers,” said Simmons, who has created nearly 1,000 Jack Daniel ads since 1967. These include many of the popular “postcards from Lynchburg.”

“American authenticity is the essence of the Jack Daniel’s brand,” said Simmons, a native of St. Louis. “That value has been communicated by featuring people who really do live and work in Lynchburg, and who craft the whiskey. We like to think of it as reality advertising -- before there was ever such a thing as reality TV.”

In 2004, Jack Daniel’s owner, Brown-Forman Beverages, celebrated 50 years of award-winning advertising for the whiskey, which has been distilled in Lynchburg (pop. 361) ever since Jack Daniel founded his distillery there in 1866.

Over the years, Simmons has guided many award-winning ad campaigns in addition to those for Jack Daniel’s. In St. Louis, his agency has handled accounts for clients Southern Comfort, Woodford Reserve, Charter Communications, PayDay and Heath candy bars, Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, Chicken of the Sea Tuna, Fox Photo Stores, Elleard B. Heffern Jewelers, Sears Portrait Studios, and other entities.

Based in Washington, D.C., The American Advertising Federation (http://www.aaf.org) protects and promotes the well-being of advertising through a nationally coordinated grassroots network of advertisers, agencies, media companies, local ad clubs and college chapters. The Ad Club of St. Louis (http://www.adclubstlouis.org) raises awareness about great advertising in St. Louis and works to inspire its members by spotlighting the industry’s best practices and encouraging a sense of community in the profession.

Media contact: Jeff Dunlap in St. Louis @ 314.993.6925.

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