Good Times Never Seemed So Good for Jim Beam

Jim Beam

People Are Good For You


Three years after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the drinks and hospitality industry is still coping with its impact. Not only did the pandemic hit the industry hard itself, the economic shocks which followed have dampened people’s desire to get back to socialising the way they did pre-2020.

As Jim Beam’s new ad from agency Leo Burnett reminds us, though, it’s not just the drinks industry that suffers when people don’t hang out. A lack of a social life hits our mental health hard. As the ad’s tagline so rightly puts it, “People Are Good For You”.

It’s a bit of wisdom that struck a chord in viewers, and the 4-Star ad is Jim Beam’s top-scoring commercial on our Test Your Ad database. It scores on other fronts too, with a strong Brand Fluency score and an Exceptional short-term Spike Rating.

The ad has the right sentiment, but that’s only half the battle. It’s great execution that separates 4- and 5-Star ads from the chasing pack in their category, and Jim Beam execute really well, taking a simple idea and bringing it to life with warmth and vitality.

The simple idea in question is a pub singalong – a roomful of people belting out sports fan anthem “Sweet Caroline”. In the US, the Neil Diamond tune started as a Red Sox anthem but it’s spread to become a more general-purpose celebration song. Anybody can sing along to “Sweet Caroline”, which means everybody can. In this ad there’s a really diverse group of revelers singing along and joining in, which helps the commercial feel more inclusive.

That inclusivity gets a payoff, with an anxious looking young woman first pausing at the door, then deciding to join the fun. And of course she’s welcomed into the party as the ad ends.

What makes the ad Jim Beam’s best? If you’ve read Orlando Wood’s Look Out, you’ll know that this ad goes heavy on two vital elements of winning, effective advertising. It’s set to a familiar tune, and it has a ton of human connection and between-ness. Those two things help get the broad-beam attention of the right brain, and in our testing we’ve seen them help ads score well time and again.

Just as important is what the ad leaves out. Some previous Jim Beam commercials have had the human elements front and center but have mixed them with flattening, abstract, left-brained elements like product close-ups and voiceovers. The “Sweet Caroline” ad leaves that stuff out, and as that strong Brand Fluency score shows, the lack of them doesn’t harm brand recognition one bit.

One final interesting point – the 30-second version of the ad scored significantly better than the 15-second version, even though there’s no real ‘story’ or complex information. The human connection in the ad needs that extra 15 seconds to work its magic and help the audience get into the “Sweet Caroline” spirit. People are good for you, and they’re good for advertising too.

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