Literacy and Liquor?

A man of character, indeed. The following “mini-movie” (an ad, but as someone pointed out in comments, better than many full-length movies at storytelling) shows the lengths one father will go for his son.

A whiskey ad, promoting adult literacy.

An ad that leaves you feeling there’s hope for the world. Grab the Kleenex and watch.


Disclaimer: This is not a product endorsement; I have never tried Bell’s whiskey. It is a commercial, but it is also a short movie demonstrating the importance of literacy, which is why I’m including it on this blog. If you are underage, don’t drink. If you are old enough to drink, drink responsibly – or don’t drink. Have a designated driver or stay home. In fact – why not stay home and read! Consider volunteering to teach someone else to read, or play Scrabble with someone who is learning.


Holly Jahangiri is the author of Trockle; A Puppy, Not a Guppy; Innocents & Demons; and A New Leaf for Lyle. You can find her books on Amazon at For more information on her children's books, please visit
Please share this post!

20 thoughts on “Literacy and Liquor?”

    1. Thanks for watching! Of course I’m a little biased – literacy means a great deal to me as a writer and a mom. It unlocks so many doors. As a mom, I know the length a parent would go – so I have no doubt this is (or certainly COULD be) a true story. 🙂

      1. I rt’d and F/b’d the original video, it is so powerful. I have no idea if it is real, and true. None-the-less it is inspiring. Even in today’s world, basic literacy is lacking around the world. Even in N.A.

  1. Thanks for posting this. It was delightful. Best of luck as you carry on in the A to Z challenge.

  2. I agree it’s an inspiring movie, I certainly would like to think it is true.

    Problem is, showing it to readers of your blog is preaching to the converted.

    Much as I like it, I am not convinced of it’s effectiveness either as an inspiration or an ad for Bells Whisky on some media, particularly TV or on-line.

    My reasoning is that neither the message nor the product reached out and grabbed me in the first few seconds.

    I watched to the end because of your recommendation, I probably would have in any case because I recognised the son’s last name as a common one from my former countries.

    My concern is that without a good hook to grab viewers attention in the first few seconds, in this era of minimal attention span, few will continue to either watch or pay sufficient attention for the 2 minutes needed to get the message.

    It might work well in cinemas or well-targeted channels on-line.

    I am commenting from my marketing background, not my motivational side.

    However, this is one occasion where I would like to be proved wrong.
    Peter Wright recently posted…Why you should worry about Bernard Eich’s persecutionMy Profile

    1. Peter, your point may be valid. On the other hand:

      Literacy programs can benefit from donations and support from a literate, affluent viewership. Perhaps the ad will raise awareness of the struggle far too many adults face, every day, and motivate people to support those programs.

      Illiterate people can still watch and understand the message in this ad, and can see that there are good, caring, supportive people out there who would genuinely like for them to succeed – there’s no shame in being a lifelong learner, and it is never too late, you are never too old, to learn a new skill if you have the drive and will do work at it.

      As nothing more than a liquor ad, it works for me because it shows a quiet celebration of real accomplishment, not mindless partying. It implies maturity and responsibility – not drunken revelry or “let’s prove our manhood by tossing back another shot.” It doesn’t have to smack you in the face with the “Drink Responsibly” reminder, because the whole ad is about more important things in life – the drink is simply a drink, and a toast between a loving father and son.

      The ad has been VOLUNTARILY WATCHED on YouTube over a million times. People have actively watched it – often more than once – because they WANTED to. So from a marketing standpoint, I think it works. I’d never heard of the brand before, but as you say, they’re certainly reaching this target market and I would buy their product – assuming it didn’t taste like dirty dishwater – because I now LIKE THEM. I haven’t even tried the product, but I feel like a loyal customer. That’s golden, from a marketing perspective – don’t you think?

      1. Yes, Holly, I do think it’s golden from a Public Relations perspective, but in a way it reinforces my point that it works well in carefully selected channels.

        Why do people voluntarily watch You Tube videos? Generally because they have been pointed to them or specific channels, by friends either real or virtual, other sites or some other stimuli.

        That audience has more motivation to watch a video, than the average TV viewer irritated by, or skipping, commercials during a show.

        So while it may be well appreciated by sympathetic viewers, I have my doubts as to how much whisky it will sell to consumers in general.

        Creating a good image, increasing awareness are essential PR, as a PR exercise the video is wonderful. As an ad to increase sales I am not so sure.

        Whether we like it or not, it is revenue from sales that pays the salaries and wages and provides the resources to fund community programmes like adult literacy. Views on You Tube and likes on Facebook may make the PR experts feel good, but do not automatically translate into sales.
        Peter Wright recently posted…Why you should worry about Bernard Eich’s persecutionMy Profile

  3. Really a short but sensible and touchy movie — though its a whiskey ad! I liked and enjoyed every seconds until I reached at the end. Then I couldn’t appreciate what it really meant!

    Although we have ethnic and cultural differences, no offence, but isn’t the boy glorifying that his father is now fit for drinking Bell’s whiskey??? Bell’s whiskey is a high standard whiskey?? Literate people drink Bell’s whiskey??

    What a message?
    Imtiaz Ibne Alam recently posted…Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Home RemediesMy Profile

    1. That’s an interesting take on it. What I saw was two men celebrating accomplishments: the son’s book, and the father’s ability to read it. The whiskey was worthy of the celebration. Also, it’s not flashy, trendy, or cheap. This is not a trivial, meaningless party; it’s a significant moment, a quiet one. A lot of love went into dad’s learning to read in order to read his son’s book. To me, the message was that the whiskey was worthy of the congratulatory toast.
      HollyJahangiri recently posted…Literacy and Liquor?My Profile

      1. Well, that’s another interesting perspective on it. No offence, but aren’t you a bit defending the ad?? If Bell’s whiskey is worthy of the congratulatory toast, it’s clear that the whiskey is of high standard — and especially, not for illiterate people.

        The son when realized that his father has become a literate man just to read his book, he hugged him and (waited a second — maybe, thinking which one he should order) ordered the bartender to serve his father a peg of Bell’s whiskey!!

        Alcohol is always injurious for health. This type of commercial shouldn’t promoted and must be censored for children viewing. This will obviously encourage your children to serve you a peg of Bell’s whiskey!! And, believe me or not, this is a part of brain washing via western media.

        The advertisement has mixed an abusive substance with a really touchy, educational message for illiterate people. And, people are appreciating it!! In my point of view, this type of ad is made to psychologically motivate people for appreciating an abusive substance.

        For your information, I want to inform you that a comparisional study done to evaluate harms caused by both legal and illegal drugs, published (2012) in the journal Lancet, reported that despite being legal and household more often than the illicit drugs, alcohol was evaluated as the most dangerous and injurious by far than any other illicit drugs — even dangerous than heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine!!!

        Hope you would understand 🙂
        Imtiaz Ibne Alam recently posted…Polycystic Ovary Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, and Home RemediesMy Profile

      2. Imtiaz, as always, I appreciate your views! (I don’t necessarily agree with them 100%, but wouldn’t it be dull if I did? 🙂 )

        That’s a really interesting take on it. Frankly, I saw a son touched by a father who cared enough to learn to read, in order to read his book. But I can also see how you’d see it as you did. You know, to be honest, I’ve only personally known one illiterate adult in my life. That now seems quite extraordinary to me – but what’s more extraordinary was that this woman taught herself to read when she was in her 50s or 60s. I never felt that literacy gave her more worth as a human being, and I doubt she drank – period. But I was happy for her, that now she was able to learn new recipes. That’s why she learned – she loved to cook, and wanted to learn new recipes. She was one of the worthiest women I’ve ever known, with or without the ability to read. But education was vitally important to her, and she ensured that all of her children got an excellent education, even when she had to work long, hard hours and do without in order to put them through school. I’m sure our experiences color our perception of this little story. My parents taught me to read, so I really couldn’t say what it would be like to have one of them learn to read, in order to read something I’d written. But I know I’d be deeply moved by the love and effort that went into it. I can, unfortunately, see how you might view the son in this ad as being condescending, but I choose not to. 🙂

        Of course I’m biased towards this story, as a writer and a parent. Reading, writing, access to all the knowledge in books, and freedom of speech are things I value and cherish. I wrote my first children’s book, in large part, to give my son reading practice. That makes it more special to me than to simply have published a book – knowing that he was my first reader and editor, and that his suggestions became part of the final copy.

        I don’t believe that alcohol is “always injurious for health.” I do believe that alcohol, abused and drunk to excess, is. And it is a drug – one I think we treat far too lightly. But as another data point: We have lots of ads for alcohol here in the US. My son has seen them on television all his life. He’s 18, now, and despite the fact that it is legal, in the state of Texas, for a minor child to drink so long as he’s in the visible presence of his parents, he doesn’t WANT to. Doesn’t like the taste of it and isn’t interested in the sensation of it. He’s had ample opportunity – and no interest whatsoever. That didn’t come from “censorship” but from guidance and responsible examples to follow. (Maybe seeing the humiliating public meltdowns of drunk celebrities had some influence – who knows?) I’ll occasionally have a drink or two, but go weeks without – it’s just not a thing I enjoy often. This ad would only drive me to buy Bell’s IF I were buying whiskey, anyway. It would not prompt me to rush out and buy some booze if I had no plans, already, to buy it or drink it. It might make me think better of Bell’s than some other brand, when I’m standing in the store.

        On the other hand, most alcohol ads depict mindless partying and frenzied fun. I can see where a kid who’s bored MIGHT think, “Hey, this would spice up my social (or sex) life!” See, that’s the thing – many of them focus on being in bars and hooking up with members of the opposite sex, so this particular ad is a refreshing change of pace for those of us who are used to seeing the other kind. Maybe you don’t see too many such ads, and so this seems to be “promoting alcohol.” But believe me, compared to most, it’s “promoting literacy” and “portraying responsible drinking habits.” 🙂

        Let’s compare messages:
        First, what do these say to you?

        Now this:

        Now, if you saw these commercials on TV DAILY, Imtiaz, might that make you think differently of the Bell’s ad? 🙂

        I seriously question anything that claims alcohol is more dangerous than heroin, cocaine, or meth – either from a physiological OR social standpoint. That it’s more dangerous than marijuana, I don’t doubt. It’s funny to me how many adults will defend alcohol but insist that marijuana should remain strictly illegal (not even available through pharmacies to cancer patients). I think they’re just indulging themselves – they defend alcohol, because they want it, and they’re terrified it’ll go the way of cigarettes (which are still legal, but socially unacceptable here, now, and prohibitively expensive). “Don’t you touch MY favorite vice!”

        I could live with alcohol being outlawed, for all I really care about it – but it’s also galling to me the extent to which we try to control other adults’ behavior, insofar as it is really only harmful to them, personally. To me, the worst danger of alcohol is to the victims of drunk drivers. (You don’t hear too often of stoners running people over with their cars. Apparently, when people smoke pot, they’re not all that interested in driving. Or, as one friend put it, “Drunks run read lights. Potheads stop on green.”)
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Chag Sameach My Profile

      3. Oh, and I take exception to the notion that we’re all “brainwashed by the Western media,” Imtiaz. Some of us can still think for ourselves. And the Western media you’re referring to would be like bathing our brains in toxic sludge, so I think maybe a different metaphor is called for. 😉
        HollyJahangiri recently posted…Chag Sameach My Profile

Comments are closed.