Watch Mila Kunis' Debut for Jim Beam

Brand Wanted a 'Strong Woman' for 'Make History' Campaign

By Published on .

Advertising Age Player

Bourbon isn't a drink just for men. But that's not the main reason Jim Beam picked an A-list female actress as the new face of its brand.

Rather, Beam entered into a long-term marketing partnership with Mila Kunis because she is down-to-earth, authentic and "liked as much by guys as girls," said Chief Marketing Officer Kevin George. Ms. Kunis will make her debut in three TV ads that start airing today as part of the brand's "Make History" campaign scheduled to reach more than 100 markets across the globe.

The campaign is by a consortium of agencies called Future Works that's composed of StrawberryFrog, New York; The Works, Sydney, Australia; and Jung von Matt, Hamburg, Germany. The effort, which represents the brand's first-ever coordinated global marketing effort, blends the 219-year-old brand's heritage with calls to millennial consumers to make their own history.

One TV ad features Ms. Kunis walking the viewer through some historical moments, including a reference to Prohibition and the Civil War, when Kentucky distillers would often get visits from Union troops and Confederate troops on successive nights, according to Beam.

What makes Ms. Kunis qualified to tell the story? Mr. George said she is "a huge bourbon fan." She "doesn't endorse that many products," he added. "This is the first product that she has really endorsed in the U.S. in a big way."

Mila Kunis and master distiller Fred Noe
Mila Kunis and master distiller Fred Noe

Ms. Kunis also studied up on the brand, spending time in Clermont, Ky., with Jim Beam's seventh generation Master Distiller, Fred Noe, "immersing herself in the heritage, traditions and craftsmanship of 'America's Native Spirit,' " according to Beam. In one TV spot, Ms. Kunis appears in Beam "rackhouses" as she discusses the craft of bourbon-making.

And although Beam didn't pick a female lead just to appeal to women, it doesn't hurt, especially since Ms. Kunis is what Mr. George called a "strong woman." While bourbon used to be consumed about 80% by men, the split is now closer to 70% male and 30% female, he said, with flavored bourbon varieties nearly split down the middle.

Jim Beam is the world's second largest U.S.-made whiskey/bourbon brand, behind Brown-Forman's Jack Daniel's, according to Euromonitor International.

The TV ads will air in the U.S. across a large range of networks, including ESPN, FXX, Spike, History Channel, AMC, Food Network and on Turner-owned outlets. The campaign also includes print, digital and retail marketing.
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