Corby deal aids U.S. invasion

Canada's largest distiller has inked a deal with Weston, Mo.-based McCormick Distilling that will introduce new products to both markets, and help speed up Toronto-based Corby Distilleries' plans to expand into the United States. Corby commands an impressive 27.2% of the...

Canada’s largest distiller has inked a deal with Weston, Mo.-based McCormick Distilling that will introduce new products to both markets, and help speed up Toronto-based Corby Distilleries’ plans to expand into the United States.

Corby commands an impressive 27.2% of the Canadian spirits market. But it’s a stagnant market, and the company has been eyeing the States as a potentially valuable new territory for Polar Ice vodka (see ‘Cold front coming from the North,’ Strategy, Jan. 31, 00) and its Whisky Guild trio of premium ryes. The deal with McCormick Distilling, the number eight player in the U.S., promises to give Corby the opportunity it’s been looking for.

‘In the United States, there are a lot of these single-barreled bourbons and single malts, but nothing to compete in that price range in Canadian whisky,’ says Chris Chan, vice-president of strategic planning with Corby. ‘We think (the Whisky Guild) will be great in terms of elevating the overall imagery of what Canadian whisky is in the U.S.’

The Whisky Guild will be positioned against premium bourbons and mass-market single-malt scotches like Glenlivet and Glenfiddich, he says, and will target relatively sophisticated drinkers. Polar Ice, on the other hand, will go after entry-level trendsetters.

To avoid spreading its resources too thinly, Corby will restrict its launch to 10 states, including strong vodka markets like Florida and Texas, says Chan, as well as parts of upstate New York. Marketing will focus on point of sale this year, with creative done in Canada but tweaked for the U.S. market by McCormick’s agency, Chicago-based Gamms. The Whisky Guild will launch in April, with Polar Ice joining it in June.

Corby will also be bringing McCormick’s Tequila Rose offering to Canada. The blend of tequila with cream and strawberry flavour is growing quickly in the States and is currently number two to Bailey’s Irish Cream among imported cream liqueurs, says Chan. It will be targeted to entry-level drinkers in the Prairie provinces.

The deal also gives the two companies access to other products in each other’s portfolios, but Chan concedes there aren’t a lot of gaps in Corby’s 60-brand roster. McCormick, however, might pick up brands from Corby’s line of cordials and ready-to-drink products.

Corby plans to spend the next five to eight years building its sales in the States with Polar Ice, Whisky Guild and to a lesser extent, its Wiser’s ryes, which are already distributed there. A one per cent share of the American vodka market would increase Corby’s sales by about 10%.

In the future, the Canadian company is planning to build its presence in Australia, New Zealand and parts of Asia.

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.