By James Atkinson

Whiskey critic Jim Murray has bestowed a higher rating on Cougar Bourbon than several of its more celebrated competitors, on the eve of a new campaign by Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) to relaunch the brand.

Cougar scored 95 out of 100 in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible 2014, placing the brand above Jim Beam, Jack Daniels, Wild Turkey and Makers Mark, according to CUB.

CUB’s new general manager of spirits and RTD, Russell Hole, told TheShout the critical acclaim was conveniently timed, with the brand’s ‘Straight Up’ campaign having launched last week with radio spots and online activity.

Developed by Clemenger BBDO Melbourne, the campaign has Cougar Bourbon sharing its thoughts on little dogs, figure skaters, fashion shows and segways through the lens of its ‘Straight Up’ attitude. 

No more ‘Five Cougars, thanks’

Hole, formerly of companies including Casella Wines and Campari, said Straight Up is the first marketing activity in many years for Cougar, which is best remembered for the racy ‘Five Cougars, thanks’ TVC.

“There’s no question that the Five Cougars campaign was incredibly successful, it blew everyone away at the time,” said Hole.

“But we think society’s moved on a bit since then, and I think our drinkers have grown up a bit as well.”

He said the new campaign is focused on driving off-premise sales of Cougar’s 700ml bottle format as well as RTDs.

The next priority will be to give some attention to another of the well established, yet somewhat neglected brands in CUB's spirits portfolio, Black Douglas.

“Cougar and Black Douglas have been in the market for 30 years, if not more. So that explains why they keep ticking along in the background,” said Hole.

As part of the relaunch, Cougar has also returned to a flask-shaped bottle with the Cougar cat front and centre.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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