Beam, Energy BBDO Part Ways After Six Years

Spirits Company to Conduct Review Following Mutual Split

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Beam Global Spirits & Wine will conduct an agency review following its split with Energy BBDO.

The two are parting after a six-year run that produced award-winning creative for the marketer's Jim Beam and Canadian Club brands. Described as mutual, the parting comes in the wake of changes earlier this year in the CEO and CMO positions at the marketer.

In a statement, Beam said: "While we have decided to take our respective businesses in different directions, we are proud of the relationship, award-winning creative work and consumer campaigns that we have developed together over the past six years and wish each other nothing but success in the future."

While BBDO's Chicago office handled Jim Beam since 2003, the partnership's creative high-water mark was undoubtedly on the work the agency turned in on the smaller Canadian Club brand since 2007. That effort revitalized the long-declining brand by turning its weakness -- aging demographics -- into a strength, with an effort dubbed "Damn Right Your Dad Drank It" that used vintage-1960s imagery to make dad less of a Ward Cleaver and more of a Don Draper type, with great success. Sales trends improved significantly.

The "Damn Right" work won a Bronze Lion at Cannes, as well as multiple Effies. Jim Beam, on the other hand, has struggled to find a consistent voice during the pairing's run, which has, at times, featured some compelling one-off efforts. Within the last 18 months, Beam started off with a campaign dubbed "The Stuff Inside," which hailed personal character, made a brief detour last fall into pushing Bourbon as "America's Native Spirit," with splashy print ads that railed against pink cocktails and the like, and earlier this year embarked on yet another push, dubbed "Guys Never Change."

The changing campaigns mirrored changes in the executive suite at the Deerfield, Illinois-based marketer, which is owned by the conglomerate Fortune Brands. In September, Beam named former Unilever executive Kevin George its new CMO, replacing Rory Finlay. That move followed by just five months the company's appointment of Cadbury's Matthew Shattock as CEO, replacing Tom Flocco.

A Beam spokeswoman said the company would soon be conducting a review to find a new agency. "I'd expect a decision sooner rather than later," she said.

Energy BBDO Chief Creative Officer Dan Fietsam declined to offer any details about the split. But he did express some pride in the agency's output on the business: "Damn Right we did great work."

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