Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Sailor Jerry after publication.
- Sailor Jerry Rum, owned by William Grant & Sons, is honoring Women’s History Month with a new campaign that spotlights female tattoo artists, per information shared with Marketing Dive.
- As part of the campaign, which plays into a broader celebration of Women’s History Month by the brand, one artist will be selected to receive the Sailor Jerry Women in Tattoo Apprentice Grant and other prizes. Participants enter by interacting with Sailor Jerry on Instagram.
- The campaign embraces Sailor Jerry’s aesthetic of classic American-style tattooing while spreading brand awareness through organic social media engagement.
Sailor Jerry’s latest effort, which was inspired by the scarcity of female tattoo artists, reflects the brand’s identification with a tattoo artist of the same name. Currently, less than one in four tattoo artists are women, according to Sailor Jerry. Tattoo apprenticeships take years and often pay very little, creating a barrier to entry for many. The apprenticeship grant is meant to help more women enter this space. In this way, the campaign leans into social justice, a key tactic for connecting with younger generations.
A chance to win three rare Sailor Jerry flash books further ties the contest back to the brand.
“As a brand with a unique origin story deeply rooted in the history of tattooing, Sailor Jerry has always had an obligation to foster support for the tattoo industry. This isn’t a new effort for us,” said Mary-Jade Hynes, brand manager of Sailor Jerry and Reyka Vodka at William Grant and Sons in an email to Marketing Dive.
Since its purchase by William Grant in 2008, Sailor Jerry has experienced substantial growth, selling 1 million nine liter cases in 2020. However, it still lags dramatically behind major competitors such as Tanduay, which sold 23.9 million cases and Bacardi, at 17.7 million cases.
Efforts have been made to raise Sailor Jerry’s status among rum drinkers. The brand has an impressive social media presence, with 208,000 Instagram followers, more than both Bacardi and Tanduay. The brand builds off the legacy of Norman Keith Collins, better known as “Sailor Jerry,” a famed Hawaii-based tattoo artist who was known for his sailor-inspired work. In 2019, the family of Collins sued William Grant for using his persona without permission to sell alcohol. However, this legal challenge has not stopped the rum brand from building a following of brand loyalists.
The campaign is part of a larger activation around Women’s History Month. In addition to the grant, Sailor Jerry has posted about Women’s History Month on its social media and featured women on its podcast, titled “The Sailor Jerry Podcast.”
“We saw Women’s History Month as an opportunity to educate our audience on women and their role in tattooing while encouraging apprenticing female artists in one of the most challenging points in their career,” Hynes said.