CCL mini-flick refreshes Eastern beer saga

Awards: ...


• Best plan for a budget of less than $1 million (runner-up)

• Best use of television (runner-up)

Agency/media company: Corporate Communications Limited (CCL)

Client: Keith’s Brewery

Brand: Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale

Media team: Philip Chant, senior-vice president, media, CCL Chester Goluch, senior vice-president, creative, CCL Larry MacEachern, vice-president, CCL Steve Wyers, marketing manager, Keith’s Brewery

Media budget: $85,000

Media used: Television, print

Timing: February 2000


Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale enjoys a unique historical position in the Nova Scotia beer market. Playing off that history, the brand has relied since 1993 on a yearly episodic TV commercial which has been highly regarded by Nova Scotians. As the maker of the province’s most popular beer, the client’s chief concern was to maintain its dominance in the market.

The challenge came from a perceived need to reinvigorate the brand. CCL and the client were not satisfied with simply producing another installment of a commercial which had become predictable. It had been almost two years since a new installment had been produced, and both parties were looking for a strong event to jump-start a new campaign.

The main goals of the campaign were to demonstrate that Keith’s is integral to Nova Scotia good times and maintain relevance for young beer drinkers by reinforcing a sense of celebration, sex appeal and humour. This was done by creating an event designed to launch the reinvigorated campaign with new characters and episodic adventures. The program was also designed to generate high tune-in for the launch and hold viewers through the entire program.


Using TV to launch the next phase of a five-year TV campaign seemed the logical way to go, but CCL wanted to elevate the introduction above and beyond a simple gross rating point heavy-up.

Meanwhile, creatives were lobbying for longer spots. First it was: ‘Could the TV buyers purchase two-minute commercial units?’ Then it was three-minute units. Quickly the discussion between creative and media focused on how to introduce this new creative series via a longer-format commercial. It ended with the realization that, to do the job properly, a 14-minute unit would be required. To accomplish this, media offered the possibility of ‘owning’ a program property, with complete commercial rights.

Sponsoring a first-run movie was discussed with Rick Marchand of ATV-ASN, CTV’s Atlantic affiliate. CCL needed the station’s assistance to find a suitable film, put together a pre-promotion program, and pre-clear the time block with CTV to avoid conflicts with national sales commitments.

The agency used the Internet to search out movie information and viewer likes and dislikes, using the Internet Movie Database extensively as a research tool. The criteria for movie selection included: young adult appeal, first TV release, high entertainment and satisfaction level in cinematic release and promotability. They decided on Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery and ATV secured the first-release rights.

As part of the agreement with CCL, ATV produced introductory and interspersed programming segments. These featured Liz Rigney, hostess of the popular Breakfast TV program and Michael Glover, president of Keith’s. Glover also introduced the film premiere and an accompanying watch-and-win participation contest.

The segments were structured to allow announcements by the two personalities throughout the evening. These served as the introduction to a new 14-minute Keith’s mini-movie, which built on the ongoing Keith’s story of the Admiral, Roger and Broderick and their search for Her Majesty’s Supplies and Provisions.

A viewer reward element provided a chance to win Keith’s prizes (jackets, shirts, etc.) by phoning an ATV 1-800 number and correctly answering questions about the mini-movie. Winners were announced on ATV’s highly rated Live at Five program the following evening.


Telephone day-after recall declared this movie a strong hit with a reach 50% greater than regular top-rated programs. Nine out of 10 respondents viewed the advertising as innovative. Press coverage was achieved in local newspapers as well as in AdNews On-Line, The National Post, Strategy, Marketing and on CBC Radio.