Old Forester’s Kentucky Turtle Derby is back

Old Forester’s Kentucky Derby

While no fan can ride a horse during the real Derby, Old Forester fans were given the chance to “ride” a turtle during the 2021 Old Forester Kentucky Turtle Derby

In partnership with creative agency Energy BBDO, Old Forester searched for real fans to turn into custom, digital jockeys who appeared atop the turtles as they raced. The winners of the competition were chosen the week of the race and their faces were 3D-rendered over the turtle they were chosen to ride. The jockeys were also asked to provide real, fun facts about themselves that were incorporated into the 11-minute film.

Last year’s campaign paid homage to the year 1945, the only other time in history that the Kentucky Derby had been cancelled. This year the race had a whole new look and feel, embracing a classic 80’s aesthetic to showcase the brand’s timeless tagline, “Old Forester Never Gets Old.” This included the jockeys, whose 3D-rendered faces evoked 1980’s video games. 

The 2021 race was filmed on a complex miniature set, including a bigger track and a “Churchill Downsized” stadium packed with handcrafted audience members. The campaign also featured fake Old Forester advertisements throughout the race to bring the alternative world to life. To celebrate the event, Old Forester even created commemorative merchandise, like a turtleneck (get it?)

Old Forester even created commemorative merchandise


The film was broadcast live on YouTube, with teasers released on social and TV. A 1:30 version of the race also played on the jumbotron at the actual Kentucky Derby in Louisville, KY. While “The 2nd Annual Old Forester Kentucky Turtle Derby” officially happened on Saturday, the campaign will continue to live on as an annual program and prove that Old Forester is a timeless classic.

“We were so excited to be able to bring back Old Forester’s Kentucky Turtle Derby for 2021,” said Robin Laurens, Creative Director at Energy BBDO. “Congrats to Lost in the Fog! Out of the Fog and into the History books.”


Credits: Brown-Forman, “The 2nd Annual Old Forester Kentucky Turtle Derby”

Client: Brown-Forman

Product: Old Forester 

Title: The 2nd Annual Old Forester Kentucky Turtle Derby

Agency: Energy BBDO

Chief Creative Officers: Josh Gross & Pedro Pérez

Creative Directors: Jonathan Fussell, Robin Laurens, Colin O’Toole & Hansel Quintela

Copywriter: Lucy Butka

Head of Design: Hung Vinh

Junior Designer: Tess Barnes

Head of Integrated Production: John Pratt

Executive Producer: Jeff Davis

Producer: JP McIntosh

Director of Integrated Business Affairs: Frank Tavolino

Group Business Manager: Katie Rogulich

Group Talent Manager: Mariellen Golfis

Executive Director of Music: Daniel Kuypers

Music Business Coordinator: Karolina Barej 

Managing Director: Lianne Sincliar  

Group Account Director: Billy Jones

Account Supervisors: Rachel James & Ricardo Delgado

Strategy Director: Kaitlyn Thompson

Social Strategy: Casey Campbell

Project Manager: Alisa Lollino

Production, Editorial, Audio, and VFX Company: Flare Chicagoo

Director of Studio Production: Mitch Monzon

Director: Geoffrey Neal

Executive Producer: Jenny McDonald

Associate Producer: Allison Hemingway

Editor: Jenny Schaye

Assistant Editor: Kelly Stone 

Senior Audio Engineer: Steven Aguilar

Senior Motion Designer: Viktoryia Kryvanos

PR Agency: Current Global 

Account Director: Gabby Deitsch

Manager, Client Experience: Suzanne Joyella


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