Beam Recycles Aussie Ads in U.S.

Bourbon Brand Says It's Reusing Spots to Create Buzz, Not Save Money

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CHICAGO ( -- Jim Beam's new ad campaign opens with a documentary-style interview with a scantily clad Eastern European model talking about her love of guys who are a bit fat, have hairy backs, watch football with the guys and enjoy the occasional trip to a strip joint, while noting her exasperation at women who protest not getting flowers.

Beam's dream girlfriend: Ads have this model talking about her love of fat, hairy men who enjoy football and strip clubs. Watch video below and leave your thoughts.
Beam's dream girlfriend: Ads have this model talking about her love of fat, hairy men who enjoy football and strip clubs. Watch video below and leave your thoughts.
"The girlfriend," reads a tagline before a bottle of Jim Beam with the tag "The bourbon" takes its place.

It's such a funny bit of equivocation that one wonders how nobody ever thought of it before. But someone did: Jim Beam. The No. 2 bourbon brand's U.S. campaign is recycling creative that the brand ran in Australia during 2007.

While that's obviously cheaper than commissioning new creative, Beam Chief Marketing Officer Rory Finlay said cutting costs has nothing to do with the brand's decision to recycle ads. Mr. Finlay, who in 2007 committed Beam Global to using its entire traditional media budget to drive word-of-mouth, said the Aussie spots were ideal for getting the brand's young-male targets talking.

Reaching its core
Beam spent much of last year attempting to do that by making a series of pseudo-political statements. It lobbied via billboards to prevent the Chicago Cubs from selling corporate naming rights for Wrigley Field and protested what it deemed to be an unfair disciplinary action against its Nascar driver, Robbie Gordon.

Those efforts created plenty of buzz, Mr. Finlay said, but they may have taken themselves too seriously. "The Beam consumer is a fun guy," he said, calling this work -- which was actually produced before those efforts -- a natural extension of them. "They like their sports and their girlfriends and doing the things that guys like to do."

And the best way to speak to those guys, apparently, was through ads created in 2007 by Great Works, Sydney. That is, of course, a blow to Beam's U.S. agency of record, Energy BBDO, Chicago, at a time when the BBDO network is already facing cutbacks by major clients such as Best Buy and Chrysler, while also dealing with the loss of Pepsi.

Mr. Finlay said BBDO remains Beam's U.S. agency of record, and he praised the shop for having "a great understanding of both the bourbon consumer and the Jim Beam guy."

Energy BBDO's most recent Beam work was a striking series of print ads touting whiskey's heritage as the most American of beverages -- and other spirits and cocktails as inauthentic and vaguely feminine. ("Lewis and Clark didn't load the canoe with mojitos," one ad boomed.)

Digital 'tentacles'
The media plan for the new round of TV spots will be heavily focused on pro-basketball broadcasts, Mr. Finlay said. But it will also have digital "tentacles" that are still being produced.

One key aspect of the campaign involves an online effort to get consumers to produce and share their own parody versions of the Aussie spots. A website provides editing tools and advice and a $25,000 cash prize for the video that gets the most votes.

Jim Beam got $12.3 million in measured media support during 2007, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Mr. Finlay said he expected the brand to get more support in 2009.

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