Jim Beam's Moving Bourbon Fans from Bar to Web

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Jim Beam is launching a pan-European campaign across 28 markets from Russia to Scandinavia and into southern Europe to reposition the bourbon brand.

It will use promotion, DM, the Web and field force marketing to back up print, TV and cinema displays. Young & Rubicam, Chicago, is handling the above-the-line drive while Draft Worldwide's Scottish office takes care of below-the-line.

Y&R's global repositioning campaign is called "real friends, real bourbon." Draft will back it up using the PR firm Burson & Marsteller's local personnel and people who work for Jim Beam distributors to drum up interest.

Draft's campaign is called "Wanted" and focuses on finding local models -- men spotted drinking in bars and clubs from St. Petersburg to Madrid -- and featuring them in local print advertising campaigns as "real friends" of Jim Beam.

But the search process also is designed to feed names into a database that will fuel an e-mail campaign for Jim Beam. Promoters in bars will pass out cards to anyone who would like to be a model and collect e-mail addresses.

The carrot? A chance to win "a lucky dollar," a trip for four to Las Vegas and enough money, according to Graeme Atha, business development director at Draft's Edinburgh office, to "have a chance to win a million dollars while they're over there."

The point of the promotion, he added, was to make Jim Beam "a sociable drink and a genuine American product that people will associate with truly masculine qualities.

"We want to reflect the value of the brand at point-of-sale and develop direct relationships with the people we are cultivating as friends of the brand in various local marketplaces."

Print ads will run in the different countries without a direct response element in the conventional sense. Instead, the ads will invite those who read them to attend special events held in local bars to promote the bourbon.

"We have a competition to create and name new ways of drinking Jim Beam with your friends, like cocktail recipes which they send in and get a chance to win the Las Vegas trip," he said. "That way we get more names for the database."

Another approach asks would-be models to give reasons why they should appear in ads. And, of course, the cards will have room for e-mail addresses.

A third tactic will have Jim Beam promoters urge young men in bars and clubs to try the bourbon.

The second stage of the campaign kicks in next year when Web sites in 10 languages will be ready. They are under development now by DCG in Chicago. "We're working with them to develop the European elements of the site," Atha said.

Once the site is up and running, the database will send e-mails urging respondents to check the Internet for more prizes and competition. Web addresses also will be featured on bottles of Jim Beam.

Draft does not plan to use print ads or direct mail to drive customers to the Web site.

"The only cost-efficient way is electronically," Atha said. "We spent more than a year carefully cultivating plans through much research and consultations with the many markets involved, and took into consideration the wide-ranging cultural and legal differences from Sofia to Stockholm."

Jim Beam, he added, is already one of the better-known US brands in Europe and is particularly popular in Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary, where it is one of the top-selling US brands.

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