The brand saw a 43% uplift in sales in the year following the launch of its first global “Make History” campaign in 2014 starring spokesperson Mila Kunis, resulting in a second ad featuring the actress earlier this year.
However, Janice McIntosh, marketing controller at Maxxium, which distributes the brand in the UK, told Marketing Week that the digital and social activation around the campaign has been “lacking”, a concern for a brand trying to reach the growing number of people aged 18 to 34 drinking whisky in the UK.
“We were doing it but it wasn’t as good as it could have been and we weren’t focusing a lot of spend and attention in that area,” she said, adding that this year the brand will more than double its spend on digital, something it plans to continue in 2016.
“This is such as important area for our target and we wanted ‘Make History’ to come to life in that social and digital environment,” McIntosh added.
Jim Beam has appointed Blonde as its new digital agency to do “basic work to get us to a level engagement” before introducing “exciting ideas” as the campaign continues, according to McIntosh.
Blonde also looks after digital for some of the other brands in the Maxxium portfolio including The Famous Grouse, Ginger Grouse and Sourz.
The investment is also part of an effort to push Jim Beam as a more “approachable drink” following the launch of a new flavour, Jim Beam Apple, at the end of May. The new variant is seen as a new way to bring new people into the bourbon and whisky category.
“With flavours and different drinks for different occasions people don’t see it being as harsh a flavour as they might have seen traditional Jim Beam,” McIntosh said.
“Bourbon and imported whisky are on a growth trajectory at the moment and we’re just excited to be reaching a much wider consumer base than ever before.”
Bringing relevance back to After Shock
Meanwhile, Blonde has kicked off a YouTube competition titled “Laughter Shock” for Maxxium’s After Shock brand, a flavoured liqueur normally drunk as a shooter.
The competition, which asks users to upload comedy videos for the chance to win a £50 high street voucher and a bottle of After Shock, is part of a wider one-year digital and social campaign for the brand, part of an effort to “make After Shock relevant again” according to McIntosh.
“After Shock is a really old brand and it was a big brand in its day,” she said. “But it hasn’t got huge investment, so we’re trying to focus investment into an area that could deliver engagement with a consumer.”
The campaign will include a focus on “owned content” to emphasise the brand’s “humourous personality” and target the brand’s audience of shot drinkers on social.