In the advertising world, liquor companies enjoy uptown lifestyles on downtown budgets.
The main story in Jim Kirk’s marketing column today in the Chicago Tribune is about ad agency BBDO winning the Jim Beam account. He reports that, in addition to flagship Jim Beam, the assignment includes Beam's DeKuyper cordials, Vox Vodka, and superpremium bourbon Knob Creek, among others. The budget: $15 to $20 million.
Later in the same column, Kirk reports that Grey Global Group has won the K-Mart advertising assignment. The troubled retailer’s annual advertising budget: $250 million.
What’s more, Beam’s $15 to $20 million is spread among four or more brands, and several of those brands support multiple products. Beam itself is really two products now, the bourbon and the ready-to-drink Beam and Cola. DeKuyper has dozens of different products. The budget also has to pay for anything they want to do for the other small batchers, or for Old Grand-Dad, Old Crow and Old Taylor. A national mass merchandise retailer and a consumer products marketer are very different kinds of advertisers, but suffice it to say that $20 million is not a lot of money for a national, multi-brand consumer products ad assignment.
And yet it is a prestigious win. The people at BBDO were excited about it. It’s a tough market right now and every win is crucial, but “Jim Beam Brands Co.” also looks good on the accounts list. A lot of $20 million accounts don’t get the same kind of attention.
When I was working in that field, I frequently was frustrated by the fact that with liquor companies you have all the process expense of a much larger account but when you get through all the process, there’s no money left to spend on getting the message out. The amount of process always seemed all out of proportion to the ultimate impact of the brands in the marketplace.