Anderson .Paak knows a little something about the value of neighborhood bars. During his circuitous route to musical stardom (he won his first Grammy Award this month), the now 33-year-old musician and his band got their start playing gigs at Little Temple on Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles.
"It was awesome," he told L.A. Weekly in 2016. "We got to play for some really cool, talented singers. And we just developed and got so tight as a unit."
Though Little Temple is now gone, .Paak retains his appreciation for local bars and how they can strengthen the social fabric of their communities, particularly as the world gets ever more virtual.
Now, he's joining Jameson in an effort to save neighborhood bars, which are closing at an alarming rate of six per day across the U.S. Check out the new broadcast spot below, from agency Night After Night, in which Paak throws his support behind the liquor brand's #LoveThyBar initiative.
The Irish whiskey brand also "grew up" in bars, of course, and so #LoveThyBar was a natural cause to embrace.
"This connection to local neighborhoods across the country is a big part of what has shaped Jameson into what it is today, and it's vital that we show our support and commitment to keeping these institutions of culture and community alive," Paul DiVito, vice president for Jameson at Pernod Ricard USA, tells Muse.
"We're sitting on piles of statistics suggesting that we as a society are unhappy," adds Casey McGrath, chief creative officer of Night After Night. "Millennials are experiencing professional 'burnout' earlier in life. We worry about technology and isolation. The things that divide us are being fed. In a time defined by these stats, a place created to bring us together to share ideas and to recalibrate should be celebrated and protected as much as any other institution."
In .Paak, Jameson saw a like-minded soul.
"Anderson came up in his own hometown bars, many of which have now closed," says McGrath. "When he talks about a place like Little Temple and the memories he and his friends have going on tour and experiencing so much life, you can hear the passion in his voice. He's an artist who has experienced a lot, which informs his music and makes it richer, rather than being just some guy sitting in front of a computer with an imagined point of view manufactured from the internet."
"Local venues and neighborhood bars are where you play when you're coming up," .Paak tells Billboard. "Sometimes we'd literally play just for food or a little bit of money just to be able to make it through the week. But it's where we really cut our teeth and gained a lot of experience that we still use when we're rocking these big stages now. We need to support these hometown venues in the same way they've supported us before they all shut down."
Choosing .Paak as an endorser also continues Jameson's commitment to music. The "Love Thy Neighborhood" campaign has included concerts nationwide featuring artists like Cedrice, Julia Haltigan, Ayron Jones, Twelve'Len and DJ Ross Grizzly, Kami, Wes Watkins, Robert Ellis, Shannon Shaw , Katie Schecter and Cory Chisel
"We're coming off of a year of bringing different block parties around the country with neighborhood musicians at the center of those experiences," says McGrath. "We are continuing to evolve how the brand works in music with more neighborhood celebrations to follow over the coming years."
The #LoveThyBar campaign includes a special drink rebate in select states for St. Patrick's Day beginning on March 1. To claim the rebate, consumers need to chat with Jameson through Messenger, head to their local bar, order a Jameson cocktail and submit an image of the receipt through Messenger.
Neighborhood bars aren't just dying in the U.S. Over in Britain, Havas London launched a big campaign in 2018 called "Long Live the Local" that aims to remind people of the value of pubs there—and to pressure the government to cut the beer tax, which is the three times the EU average.