Despite losing a court case in the 1998 Seinfeld finale - and not representing a client since - Jim Beam Honey has tapped fictional lawyer Jackie Chiles to handle a lawsuit against bears.
The two-week campaign was spurred in part by a new product from Jim Beam and seeks to protect honey as well as to draw attention to the plight of honeybees.
Jim Beam Honey is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey infused with honey and liqueur. It launched in Germany about a year ago and was introduced to the U.S. market last month.
Because of this relatively new product, Jim Beam says it is distressed by colony collapse disorder, which is causing bees to die. And because fewer bees mean less honey, the brand wants to do something about it.
Enter Chiles - and a lot of quotation marks.
Jim Beam has "hired" the legendary Seinfeld attorney to "sue" bears because they are also a threat to honey.
"That's right - it's time for bears to cease and desist from their rampant honey theft," Jim Beam says.
This fight - which Jim Beam says is a legal first - welcomes the support of fans 21 years and over, who can follow Chiles' quest with the hashtag #suethebears on Twitter.
What's more, for every tweet featuring this hashtag, Jim Beam will donate $100 - up to $25,000 - to the Pollinator Partnership, a nonprofit that says it works to "protect the health of managed and native pollinating animals vital to North American ecosystems and agriculture."
As of August 22, the brand says it has received over 300 #suethebears tweets.
"We didn't put a huge amount of paid support behind Twitter as we really wanted to keep it organic and engage with our fans around a larger cause - saving the honey bees," a Jim Beam rep says.
According to Beam Inc. Public Relations Manager Dan Cohen, the brand tweeted its first video featuring Chiles on August 19 and it was one of the most successful posts the brand has ever had on Twitter. It received 57 retweets and 26 favorites.
As of August 22, the video has about 4,500 views:
In addition, Jim Beam says exclusive content will be released on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, along with a series of editorials on BuzzFeed, including: 12 Reasons Why Bears Are The Absolute Worst, 10 Reasons Why Honey Is The Greatest Ingredient Ever, and 11 Things You Should Know Right Now About Honey Bees.
"Bears are egregious, devious, and just plain mischievous!" says Chiles in a prepared statement. "I'm here to go on the record - with Jim Beam Honey as my witness - to ensure that sweet, mouth-watering justice is served!"
According to Cohen, the brand was seeking a tongue-in-cheek and over-the-top approach to announce the product.
"When thinking about the most legendary iconic lawyer characters, we saw Jackie Chiles as the perfect example of a ridiculous over-the-top lawyer," Cohen says. "And Seinfeld is iconic in culture, so it was a great opportunity to partner to bring [this campaign] to life to sue bears."
The campaign targets 20-something males, or "Jim Beam drinkers looking for a different option," Cohen says.
In addition to the videos and Buzzfeed partnership, Cohen says the brand is working with Chiles on media interviews to help spread the word about the campaign.
"He's our personal lawyer on retainer," Cohen quips.
Jim Beam has 1.8 million likes on Facebook. @jimbeamofficial has 28,000 followers.
Chiles is played by the actor Phil Morris.
On August 22, Morris tweeted, "@thejackiechiles is back, and so is another American original! #twinkies #suethebears pic.twitter.com/Z1XyvGiN2h."
However, a Jim Beam rep surmises Morris must simply like Twinkies as there's no cross-promotion in this particular campaign.
"We want to reinforce this is a fictional character, but we're hoping using a fictional character will help us serve real justice and help save bees while entertaining fans," Cohen adds.
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Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
December 12, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT