Jim Beam Co-Brands with Fast-Food Chain


March 20, 2013

Carl’s Jr. announced it’s introducing a bourbon burger, making it the latest fast-food establishment to capitalize on the good whiskey’s name.

The Jim Beam Bourbon Burger showcases sauce from Jim Beam and will be supported with a $70-million ad campaign featuring supermodel Heidi Klum as a “Mrs. Robinson” temptress.

As a former fast food trade editor, I know all too well how the fast-food business makes millions off these kinds of partnerships. Much like the term “Angus” was in 2006, “bourbon” appears to be in the crosshairs of every fast-food operator. McDonald’s has tested a bourbon burger in Brazil, and Burger King sells a Bourbon Whopper.

This is a great play for Jim Beam, giving its brand Prime Time exposure 24/7 with young adults. Partnering with Carl’s Jr., a company known for its salacious ads, opens doors that a whiskey company simply cannot even consider alone.

Due to the DISCUS Code, Jim Beam is not allowed to target underage markets and must keep ads within good taste. Last year, DISCUS reprimanded Cotton Candy Liqueur for featuring a model who looked underage licking puffy cotton candy. By comparison to Carl’s Jr.’s Paris Hilton ads, the Cotton Candy Liqueur ad is tame.

So, it will be interesting to see how long of a leash Jim Beam grants Carl’s Jr. for using its name. Will this open the floodgates for bourbon cross branding to reach markets liquor cannot ethically touch?

I don’t know.

I do know that everybody will prominently see “Jim Beam” when walking into Carl’s Jr. But, is that really any different than billboards or truck trailer advertisements?