Jim Beam, A "Real Friend"

You are flipping through a magazine when a striking red ad, with a black and white picture catches your eye. It reads: "Unlike your girlfriend, they never ask where this relationship is going" (Jim Beam advertisement). Underneath it says: "Real friends. Real bourbon." If you are female, this ad may mean little to you. However, if you are male, this ad may seem very attractive. You may even desire to have some of this bourbon, but why? This ad represents Jim Beam bourbon as a true friend to any man, offering dependability and authenticity, while also providing the support only obtainable through exclusively male relationships. The positive connotations associate with this ad appeal to most men, but particularly to college aged, white, middle class, males.

Although there is a definite stereotype of the target audience, Jim Beam can be a "real friend" to all types of men, be they reserved, outgoing, comical, awkward, sincere, superficial, or somewhere in between. Because of the fact that liquor is illegal to anyone under the age of twenty-one, and that these guys are obviously drunk at a bar, not appearing to have just gotten off work, but appearing to be hanging out on a Saturday night, it is implied that the target age group is between twenty-one and thirty, although sixteen to thirty-one is probably more accurate. The ad also targets men with girlfriends, who could easily relate to the girlfriend inquiring about the relationship. However, this aspect is not required because the male bond is still very attractive to men, even if they do not have a girlfriend. This ad appeals to the many different personalities that men might possess, thus increasing the allure. Different personalities are represented in this portrayal of male bonding, that most men could relate to. There is the quiet, intense guy, the good buddy, the loud, funny, belligerent guy, and most personality characteristics in between. No matter what your personality, there is comfort in this group, and with Jim Beam.

As anyone can find comfort with this group and its liquor of choice, anyone can appreciate the importance of genuine friends. The authenticity of the relationship between the four men in the ad represents the quality of this liquor, as compared to others. All of the positive connotations that are represented by the friendships, are then directed towards the bourbon. The body language of two of the guys, one having his arm around the other, shows that these are two really good friends. Guys do not often make physical gestures of friendship, unless it is to a really good friend. The fact that these two guys do not appear to be silly-drunk also shows the genuineness of the friendship; it is not just an action done in a drunken stupor, as might be true if the man in the foreground were involved. This friendship is tried and true. It will not falter easily. The bricks in the background represent the strength of the relationship. Bricks are the strongest, and most durable of common building materials. Like the bricks, the friendship is strong and dependable. Like the friendship, Jim Beam is also dependable. It will be there for you when you need it, as only a true friend would be, when all other liquors would let you down.

By contrasting real friends with a girlfriend, this ad represents Jim Beam bourbon as a "real friend." The girlfriend is represented as the unwanted, un"real" friend who is unreliable, as are other brands of alcohol. The word "they" in the ad implies that not only are the guys in the picture "real friends," but so is the bourbon. The girlfriend mentioned is obviously not a serious one, if she’s inquiring about where the relationship is going. This implies that she is only temporary, like an un"real" friend, who will not be there through thick and thin as real friends, and Jim Beam, would be. "Real friends" have no reason to be insecure about the relationship as the girlfriend is. A "real friend" would be there no matter what. The girlfriend is presented as an annoyance, to which many men can relate. Men don’t want to sit around and discuss emotional subjects such as "where this relationship is going." The girlfriend’s quote represents the lack of commitment that is often present in sexual relationships. In a homo-social relationship men do not have to worry about their friends finding a better looking friend that they would rather be with, because there is a commitment there that is based on far more than superficialities, as is the case in some male-female relationships can be. Having the only portrayal of women in this ad be negative also augments the strength of the homo-social relationship, and the genuineness of Jim Beam as compared to a temporary girlfriend.

The relationship between these four men is appealing not just because of the dependability and authenticity of it, but also because of the homo-social appeal that it presents its audience with. Guys enjoy being with other guys. They enjoy male-bonding. The lack of women present in this ad, other than the negative portrayal of a girlfriend, presents guys with an opportunity to partake in male bonding. There is no superficial judgment, mind games, or fear of rejection that women can present to a situation Without women around, boys can be boys. The situation in the picture allows the men to be comfortable, free from the pressure of pleasing or impressing women, and they can talk about what guys talk about, all in the presence of Jim Beam, in the glass and lit up in the background. The comfort provided here is the same comfort provided by a bottle of trusted Jim Beam bourbon.

"Real" friendships, such as the ones implied by this ad, have no discriminatory abilities. Although this ad targets a very specific group of people, young, middle-class, men, it is not inclusive to them alone. The homo-social love of the men in the picture is attractive to almost all men, regardless of race, age, or socio-economic level. By playing on men’s need for reliability and acceptance, Jim Beam bourbon is portrayed as the "real friend" that can provide this emotional support, as no other could. Jim Beam will not come and go as an unreliable girlfriend might, but will stay with you for a lifetime, as "real friend."



Works Cited

Jim Beam Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Advertisement