Y&R Making Friends for Jim Beam

Young Men Bond Over Bourbon in Chicago Agency’s Opening Effort
CHICAGO–Jim Beam Bourbon plans to make “real friends” out of its target audience with an ad campaign from Young & Rubicam breaking later this month.
The effort, tagged “Real friends. Real bourbon,” is Y&R Chicago’s first for the Deerfield, Ill., distiller since winning the $10 million business in March.
Print ads center around an inner circle of young men. In black-and-white snapshots, they are seen sharing drinks at hangout spots including a bar and a pool hall. Sample headlines include, “Unlike your girlfriend, they never ask where this relationship is going,” and, “You’ve been friends since getting together for a drink meant the water fountain after recess.”
“What we took great delight in is how it’s all about guys interacting with one another,” said Y&R executive creative director Mike Faems.
It was this interpretation of the core values of Jim Beam’s flagship brand that won the agency the account in last winter’s review, said Nancy Lintner, Jim Beam’s vice president.
“The whole idea of sociability with the brand is so strong,” she said.
Y&R pitched the snapshot idea using photos its own staffers had at home, said Faems.
“We felt it would be great to capture that kind of spontaneity in advertising,” he said.
Jim Beam’s “Get in touch with your masculine side” campaign from Fallon McElligott had been running since March 1996. The Minneapolis shop resigned the account last November after 10 years working on the brand.
Lintner said Fallon’s masculinity message was strong, but the brand needed a change in direction. “It was such a strong thing we were hearing from around the world that we really had to rethink where we were going,” she said.
Jim Beam will put an estimated $10 million behind the domestic print campaign over the next 12 months, Lintner said. Ads in national magazines such as Playboy, Sports Illustrated, Rolling Stone and Maxim roll out later this month.
An additional $10 million will back TV and print ads set to break globally in the second quarter of next year.