Jim Beam:  Resurrecting An Icon


The whiskey category had been resurgent since the early 2000s, but Jim Beam was stagnant. The original bourbon since 1795, Beam had become associated with older, blue collar men behind a positioning about having 'character.'  The brand's primary points of difference were its history as the original bourbon, and its unique bourbon-making process. 


Beam's points of different just didn't seem relevant to fun-seeking, spirits-drinking 20-something Millennial men. They were simply NOT interested in either a history lesson or a tutorial in how bourbon is made.  


While the Beam clients previously only viewed consumers through the lens of spirits need-states -- I conducted in a large scale segmentation study of Millennial men based on personal values. Through this work we uncovered a new vanguard type of Millennial man, one we nick-named "Indie Guy."  He was markedly different from the hard-partying 'lad' mindset often associated with 20-something men. His hallmark was self-reliance, independent thinking and a dogged determination to live life his own way.

Following this we did a deep dive into Beam's history and found that the brand and Beam family had survived incredible adversity in its over 200 year history (e.g., prohibition.)  But it had never wavered from its mission or bourbon-making method.

Thus we discovered a key shared value of Beam and "Indie Guy" Millennial man: being true to yourself in the face of adversity, and taking risks to do so. 


"Choose Boldly:"  Dare to be true to yourself no matter what.

Creative Expression

From: The Stuff Inside Matters Most -- old campaign and line

 To:  Make History -- new campaign and line



In 2013, for the first time in decades, Beam saw a marked sales comeback among young men, one that has continued ever since. Under this new positioning and creative direction, the brand committed heresy and for the first time created a whole range of premium non-bourbon spirits (Red Stagg, Devils's Cut, etc.)  Just as it did when it invented the bourbon making process, Beam was once again 'making history.'

My Role

As strategy lead for StrawberryFrog on Beam, designed our strategic approach and led implementation of it.  (NOTE:  Beam had been my client in my previous role at BBDO and I continued working with them when I moved to StrawberryFrog.)

What We Did/How Got There

  • 3 day workshop with Adam Morgan
  • Several rounds of concept development
  • 3 rounds of qualitative research


Kevin George, CMO; Kelly Doss, SVP Marketing

Beam Brand Strategy


Brand Film

Campaign Architecture