MaxAir fires on all cylinders

Agency/Media Company: Bates Canada Client: Warner Lambert Canada (Adams Brands) Brand: MaxAir Media Team: Lynn Mayer, vice-president, director of planning; Cheryl Fryer, media supervisor Timing: Launched January 1999 Best Plan Overall Best Plan for a Budget of More Than...

Agency/Media Company: Bates Canada

Client: Warner Lambert Canada (Adams Brands)

Brand: MaxAir

Media Team: Lynn Mayer, vice-president, director of planning; Cheryl Fryer, media supervisor

Timing: Launched January 1999

Best Plan Overall

Best Plan for a Budget of More Than $1 Million

Best Use of Television

Best Use of Interactive

The Background

The post-Christmas lull of January 1999 saw the launch of a high-menthol gum called MaxAir – a new product concept that arose from the demand for intense flavour among consumers aged 15-34.

As a basis for segmenting potential users, the psychographic profile was more important than demographics alone. Not just anyone in the target age group would enjoy MaxAir; the prototypical user was a self-aware and highly individualistic 24-year-old – someone in constant pursuit of experiences that create a different state of mind.

For this media-savvy group, the advertising had to be relevant, provocative and meaningful. And it had to be showcased in those communications vehicles best able to reach them in meaningful ways at various points in their day. Bates Canada’s ‘be where they are’ approach was designed to create a buzz about MaxAir – a goal every bit as imperative as building awareness and inciting trial.

The Plan

To connect with the target audience, the campaign needed to be innovative, multi-tiered and imbued with irreverent attitude.

In television, a medium selected for its ability to build reach, the execution had to be just as unconventional as the creative itself (with its surreal images of jumbo jets flying up noses and seals cavorting in people’s heads). Out-of-home, which was used to extend television’s reach and take MaxAir’s message to the street, had to be equally focused.

Given the way this target group has embraced all things interactive, it was also critical to extend the campaign to the Internet.

To encourage media partners to help take ownership of the launch, it was necessary to share with them our understanding of the audience and the kinds of communications that resonate with them. Reps were shown a video capturing the essence of the MaxAir target group, and were given detailed briefings on the media objectives and creative approach. They were also invited to develop customized proposals that would add dimension to the campaign through sponsorships, closed-captioning, events, sampling opportunities and interactive extensions.

Television: The television campaign for MaxAir was planned on the basis of relevant programming, rather than GRPs. Since neither BBM, Nielsen nor PMB could help pinpoint what this self-aware, thrill-seeking young adult was watching, we turned to the 1998 Goldfarb Study, with the help of CTV, and found the core of the MaxAir target audience in the ‘Assured’ cluster: self-oriented and adventurous individuals who work hard and play hard, and are eager to try new experiences and new brands.

The television programs that over-indexed for viewership by this ‘Assured’ group included South Park, Ally McBeal, WWF Wrestling, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The X-Files and The Simpsons – and it was programs such as these that were hand-picked for the MaxAir launch.

Goldfarb also helped identify key opportunities for reaching this target via specialty television channels – specifically TSN, Space: The Imagination Station, MuchMusic/MusiquePlus, Teletoon and The Comedy Network. Specialty TV made a critical contribution to this plan, particularly through sponsorship vehicles such as MuchMusic’s SnowJob, and various sampling opportunities.

Out-of-Home: In Canada’s top nine urban markets, transit shelters were used concurrently with television in order to extend reach and heighten frequency delivery. Locations in immediate proximity to university and college buildings, bars and nightclubs, ‘main drags’ and movie multiplexes were chosen, the better to weave MaxAir into the fabric of these consumers’ lives.

Subway platform posters were added to the mix in Toronto and Montreal, with the emphasis placed on key high-circulation stations. In some instances, opportunistic buys were made; MaxAir posters, for example, appeared at Toronto’s Union Station during the February opening of the new Air Canada Centre.

Interactive: Target-relevant sponsorships were also extended to the Internet, via MaxAir’s broadcast partners.

The brand’s ownership of the ‘Conspiracy Guy’ feature on Space, for example, extended to a micro site, where consumers were encouraged to submit their own conspiracy theories and enter a contest to win MaxAir gum. Sponsorship of TSN’s Off the Record, meanwhile, was carried over to the program’s home on the TSN Web site, where consumers could participate in a sports trivia contest and download a 20-second MaxAir video vignette.

This video – which featured edgier creative than appeared on television – formed an essential component of the campaign, adding an underground element to the communication. Consumers were encouraged to circulate the e-mail amongst their friends, creating the potential for exponentially increased viewership. (The video was also sent to the thousands of members of MuchAXS, MuchMusic’s viewers’ club.)

The Results

MaxAir, now in its second year, continues to build on the stellar results achieved at launch.

According to Tandemar, MaxAir’s aided awareness, trial and conversion significantly exceeded new product norms. Research conducted by Canadian Facts for Mediacom showed that awareness of the outdoor campaign exceeded projections by 10%. And, on the interactive front, MaxAir’s ‘Conspiracy Guy’ micro site attracted nearly 5,000 submissions. Most tellingly of all, total MaxAir sales for 1999 were more than double the initial forecasts.

Also in this report:

* Bates takes the cake p.BMP2

* Dentyne Ice kisses up to teens with party promo: Initiative was designed to drive both brand awareness and sales p.BMP4

* Kool-Aid placement reflected fun, refreshment p.BMP6

* Aussie creates ‘in your face’ presence: Repositions brand as funky, outrageous p.BMP8

* Guerrilla tactics get Panasonic noticed: Campaign used underground channels to reach club crowd p.BMP10

* Much VJ follows his Natural Instincts on air p.BMP12

* Chapters stands out in dot-com crowd p.BMP15

* Campbell’s cooks up targeted advertorial: Partners with CTV, magazines to create a presence beyond traditional ad buy p.BMP16

* Looking at Philips through fresh eyes: Redefinition of target market sparked departure from the traditional choice of television p.BMP18

* Jays plan hits home run p.BMP21

* Minute Maid aims for morning ownership p.BMP24

* Western Union a global Villager p.BMP28

* Scotiabank breaks out of the mold p.BMP32

* Clearnet clusters creative: Complementary boards were positioned in proximity to one another to maximize visibility, engage consumer p.BMP38

* The Judges p.BMP43

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group