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

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.