Vice Squad
Sunday, October 17, 2004
Jim Beam v. Jack Daniels

A couple weeks ago we mentioned that Jack Daniels had quietly reduced the alcohol content in their Tennessee whiskey from 86 to 80 proof. One of their leading competitors, Jim Beam, has been alluding to this change in their recent marketing. "We'd never 86 our 86 proof" is the tagline of a Jim Beam ad that appeared in the sports section of today's New York Times; I saw the identical ad last week in the sports section of the Chicago Tribune. Later in the ad, we read: "Those who prefer a better tasting bourbon, prefer a bourbon that's 86 proof." The Beamers seem to think that there are a fair number of readers who will understand the reference to the recent change in Jack Daniels. (And just how well-known is the diner lingo "86," meaning "out of stock," as in "we're 86 on the onion rings"?) Has Jim Beam overestimated the reach of Vice Squad?

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