Adding Some Sizzle To The Holiday Spirit

Jack Daniel’s proved once again why it is sold in over 170 countries around the world with the release of its newest brand, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire — a red hot blend of cinnamon liqueur with the smooth character of Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7.

For the 2016 holiday season, the design team at Brown-Forman set out to develop an eye-catching holiday gift box that would house the premium, flavored whiskey along with two shot glasses, thus promoting the brand’s drink strategy — a chilled shot of Jack Fire. It was important to communicate through the package design that this is a premium quality, red hot, high energy offering from Jack Daniel’s.

Adding Some Heat to Holiday Gift Boxes

Kate Stites, Senior Graphic Designer at Brown-Forman, who led the packaging project, said that because charcoal mellowing is a critical step in crafting Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, she saw charcoal as not only a significant element for the overall brand, but a key visual element for Jack Fire.

“At the same time Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire had this amazing ad campaign featuring the bottle on a bed of hot coals. So, I wanted to find a unique way to not only represent charcoal on this box, I wanted the gift box itself to look like it was smoldering charcoal,” said Stites.

Not sure if her vision was achievable, or how to design for it if it was, Stites began by developing the concept and presenting the idea to the Jack Fire brand team — a team she gratefully says was willing to take a chance on innovation, and supported the design direction.

When You’re Hot You’re Hot

Stites worked with Chattanooga-based Textile Printing Company (TPC) to develop production samples. Using the Jack Daniel’s custom made 26pt. solid black Neenah Folding Board in Matte finish as a starting point, Stites specified a red foil to be set into a debossed pattern designed to look like sparks from the smoldering coals.



A tinted matte varnish, and some untinted varnish were used to create the contrast between the deep, dark charcoal and the lighter areas of ash. Stites was satisfied with the way the production samples were coming out, but then TPC recommended using a red holographic foil to give more movement and depth to the package. Stites says the suggestion elevated the look further than she had imagined, and made a significant impact on the end result.

“I was so happy with the box. It literally stopped people who walked by my desk and compelled them to pick it up and move it around in the light to see the foil flare up and shift color and turn dark again,” said Stites.


“I am a fan of Neenah® Folding Board. Because it’s a dyed-through substrate the cut edges aren’t white, which gives the finished package such a clean and polished look. The surface has a little tooth to it and a beautiful matte finish that offers great contrast to gloss varnishes and the shine of silkscreen printing. The board takes foil beautifully, and because it has a bit of a rougher surface than a typical smooth surface, it allows some texture to appear underneath the foil. That gives the metal more area and angles to catch the light, which is so interesting. I think it looks amazing,” said Stites.


And as with all of the current Jack Daniel’s gift packaging, there isn’t any plastic covering the cut out windows, a strategic (and environmental) move Stites first made on a previous Jack Daniel’s holiday gift box. Removing the plastic eliminates the reflection of store lighting, making the product more visible, adds a component of touch, and lets the glow of Jack Fire invite customers in.

“This package was a really fun challenge. And it took a village! The beautiful paper, a good creative brief, a trusting brand team, and the amazing knowledge of our print partners all worked together to create a successful new package,” said Stites.