EPISODE 21 - Behind the scenes with Chief Brands Officer Mark McCallum


The word “icon” probably gets thrown around a little too easily these days. It takes time, effort, skill and talent to move something into the active role of icon. It doesn’t happen accidentally or overnight. Mark McCallum knows a little something about working with a true icon. As part of the leadership team at Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel’s parent company, Mark has played a pivotal role in establishing the global footprint of Jack Daniel’s. On this episode of Around the Barrel, we talk with Mark about building that footprint, the new brands that have emerged under the Jack umbrella under his watch, and the challenges of getting some audiences to believe the lore of Lynchburg.


cheif brands officer Mark McCallum


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Jack Daniel’s isn’t merely a whiskey. It’s an icon. Its story and character are known around the world, among consumers and non-consumers alike. But becoming an icon has not happened quickly, nor without the work of many. A primary figure in establishing Jack Daniel’s global presence over the past 15 years has been Mark McCallum. A native Australian, Mark was aware of Jack Daniel’s long before he began working on the brand, making him eager to embrace the opportunity to oversee a product whose reputation transcends borders.


Mark McCallum is the Executive Vice President, Chief Brands Officer at Brown-Forman, Jack Daniel’s parent company. He began his career in consumer products nearly 47 years ago, working in R&D, production, sales and marketing for General Foods/Kraft. He later shifted to other international food products and services before joining Brown-Forman in 2003 as Chief Marketing Officer. 


During his time at Brown-Forman and working on Jack Daniel’s, McCallum has been most impressed by the shift from Jack Daniel’s as a predominantly U.S.-based company, to an international one. Today, 55% of all Jack Daniel’s is sold outside of the United States. Brown-Forman has a presence in 40-50 countries, with distributors in even more locations, and regardless of the place, the character of the brand remains the same.


On this episode of Around the Barrel, host Lucas Hendrickson joins Mark McCallum in his Louisville office to discuss what he calls Jack Daniel’s renowned “gritty” character and how consistency remains the hallmark of a successful marketing program. He shares insight into the evolution of new Jack Daniel’s products, what it’s like to be a Tennessee Whiskey in Bourbon country, and his love for whittling in Lynchburg. 


While McCallum will retire from Brown-Forman at the end of this year, he will look back fondly on the last 15 years as what he describes as the best years of his life. He has a distinct reverence for this whiskey brand, and the hand that pop culture has had in shaping its iconic status. When he does retire, McCallum will transition into a new chapter, but it’s unlikely to change his drink of choice – a Gentleman Jack Manhattan.

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