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When It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia stars Glenn Howerton, Charlie Day and Rob McElhenney launched whiskey brand Four Walls, it was supposed to be a beer.
“We felt we were uniquely positioned to actually authentically bring a celebrity brand of something to the market,” Howerton said at Adweek X in Los Angeles this week. “We’d seen a lot of tequilas, vodkas, high-end celebrity brands out there, and we got excited about the idea initially of possibly doing a beer.”
The trio settled on whiskey after fellow co-founder Casey McGrath pointed out that one of the largest costs associated with a liquid is shipping.
But according to Howerton, McGrath liked the idea of a beer, which is why Four Walls “brought a beer aesthetic to a whiskey brand.”
“I love beer advertising,” McGrath said. “Everything about the way that we’ll build [Four Walls] will be a beer, except for the liquid,” noting that the company’s spots are a nod to classic beer advertising over the years.
“Four Walls is very much from an advertising standpoint, a beer brand. It’s about celebrating the good times in the way that the best beer brands have,” McGrath added.
When launching the company, McElhenney and Howerton took their cues from McElhenney’s business partner Ryan Reynolds, who bought Aviation Gin in 2018 before selling it to Diageo for $610 million.
“[Reynolds] encouraged us to lean all the way in and making fun of ourselves, but never the product,” McElhenney said. “We have a brand of comedy that works very nicely with that. Let’s make sure that we create a really great product that we all love that we would drink so that it feels authentic, and then we can have a lot of fun with how we interact with each other in the messaging.”
In launching Four Walls, the team wanted to avoid the pitfalls that could come with a celebrity-fronted brand, with McElhenney pointing out that celebrity spirit brands could become “low-hanging fruit” and that the beverage industry is tough to break into.
Leveraging the power of fandom
To differentiate Four Walls, McElhenney and Howerton used the power of other brands at their disposal, including Wrexham FC and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.