Talking over beers

Ah, spring. A time synonymous with the NHL playoffs, fresh cut grass and good, cold beer. Enter the recent slew of TV spots flogging Canadian brews. Which, of the many slogging it out for consumption consideration, are likely to connect with...

Ah, spring. A time synonymous with the NHL playoffs, fresh cut grass and good, cold beer. Enter the recent slew of TV spots flogging Canadian brews. Which, of the many slogging it out for consumption consideration, are likely to connect with the beer crowd? Strategy polled nine marketing types to find out who was gaining mindshare in the beer wars.

Marc Stoiber

VP and Executive Creative Director, Grey Worldwide, Toronto

Canadian

The new ‘I Am Canadian’ spot is a weaker version of the ‘Rant.’ I think it’s very elegantly done. I think the guy being poetic is nice. It’s very consistent. The difference is, the ‘Rant’ just sent a chill down my spine and it still does. This one, I thought was a really nicely done ad, but the chill was missing. I don’t know how the hell you get a chill. If I did, I would be doing it more often myself. They’ve got a real tough job…it’s not everyone who does Godfather 1 and then does Godfather 2. I don’t envy those guys.

Blue Light

I think ‘Samedi Island,’ for example is really nicely executed and it has all of the essentials of a really good beer ad. It’s got boobs and a tropical island and fun, fun, fun. But I just question what freeing my time and having a beer have in common. It seems to be reaching. ‘I Am Canadian, therefore I drink Canadian’ has a real click with me. Whereas ‘Free your time, have a Blue Light’ doesn’t really click.

Blue

‘Out of the Blue’ is a fantastic strategy. The best things happen spontaneously. You get it. Great things happen ‘Out of the Blue.’ That’s really nice.

Doug Robinson

Chairman, Chief Creative Officer, Ammirati Puris, Toronto,

Client: Labatt Breweries of Canada

Bud Light

Bud Light has been incredibly executed. They are very focused in who they’re going after. They know how important it is, as a beer brand, to entertain. They’ve acknowledged to the target that they know what it’s like to be a guy. It is executed in a silly fashion, and I think that’s why they are succeeding. It says ‘we get you guys.’

Molson Export

I have a question mark around the Molson Export campaign. I’m not sure that it has any longevity, and I don’t think they have a positioning that we could see in the marketplace for a long time, like an ‘I Am Canadian.’ Sexuality is linked to beer, but I think you have to go deeper. It’s too surface. Give me something newer, something fresher that I haven’t thought about and make it relevant to the brand. Also, you need an aspirational quality. I look at some of the guys in the ad, and I’m not too inspired to be one of them. I find it natural and real, but they’re soft, doughy and losing hair, and I don’t know if I want the mirror up that close.

John Farquhar

President and COO, Young and Rubicam, Toronto

Molson Export

The Molson Export campaign is one of those wonderfully unusual and insightful pieces that is going to work well for the brand over summertime. The brand could have either adopted a me-too strategy as

just another beer out there for the boys, or a heritage feel, neither

of which would be particularly compelling. Heritage is irrelevant and me-too wouldn’t differentiate them. I think ‘Had Ex Today’ is a very unusual presentation and probably the most original work that’s out there right now.

Blue Light

I’m a little confused by the Blue Light work. There seems to be two generic insights right now: gee, I wish I had more time to spend, and wouldn’t it be great if life was simpler. They’ve taken the former, free up your time, and attached it to a beer. I don’t know that it’s really going to differentiate them from the competition. Creatively I find the advertising confusing, very complicated and I’m not exactly sure what the point is.

Rob Guenette

VP Marketing, Molson Canada, Toronto

Bud Light

On the brilliant side, for me, is the Bud Light (Sin & Sentimentality) stuff out of Palmer Jarvis…That team, David Chiavegato and Rich Pryce-Jones responded by making sure they knew the consumer first. They made sure that they got noticed and it was engaging. It hit a universal truth for that particular target market. And much like some of the best sitcoms do, it made it very real, it made it very humorous. I’d stack up that communication with some of the best in the world. I think it’s awesome.

Chris Staples

Co-founder, Rethink, Vancouver

Blue

I think the ‘Cup Crazy’ spots are funny and fresh. They’re perfect for the NHL playoffs, and it’s great to see creative that’s specifically developed for the media it’s in. The ads are going to run in heavy rotation during the playoffs, and viewers will get a kick out of them. I assume the strategy was to do playoff advertising that beer drinkers would love and I think the spots fit the bill.

Janet Kestin

Co-creative Director, Ogilvy & Mather, Toronto

Blue Light

I find the Labatt Blue Light spots very confusing. It doesn’t make any sense to me. I literally don’t know what they want me to know. The ads are so radically different from one another, that having seen one doesn’t help me understand the other. I don’t get the point.

Canadian

The new ‘I Am Canadian’ spot seems quiet and a bit lackluster compared to the passionate ‘Rant.’ The ‘Rant’ is one of those ads that people in the business loved or hated, but it was a phenomenon, and certainly deserves kudos. This is like its pale, younger brother. It’s not that involving, where the ‘Rant’ was incredibly involving. ‘I Am Canadian’ is a really big idea, but how you execute it from one time to the next is tricky.

Tony Miller

Creative Director, Sharpe Blackmore Saffer Euro RSCG, Toronto

Budweiser

The ‘How Ya Doin” spot for Bud tries to build on a previous campaign. No one could have predicted that ‘Wassup’ would take off the way it did. The creative team may never have a campaign as succesful as this again. But so what? With ‘Wassup,’ they hit it out of the park. Problem is, you can’t bottle success like this. Formulas don’t generally work for brand advertising, and the ‘How Ya Doin” spot looks like it’s trying to recapture the spark of ‘Wassup.’

Canadian

The ‘I Am Canadian’ campaign has the unenviable task of piggy-backing on the wildly successful ‘Rant’ spot that touched a national chord. This spot seems derivative to me, like they were trying to tweak the ‘Rant’ and somehow retain the magic. It’s a good try, but it sounds like a rip-off. The good news is, they’re ripping off themselves.

Robin Heisey

Executive Creative Director, Harrod Mirlin/FCB, Toronto

Canadian

I think the follow-up to the original Molson Canadian ‘Rant’ is pretty solid. While it won’t and probably couldn’t live up to the hype of the ‘Rant,’ it stays true to the campaign. One criterion for great creative is being innovative – which the ‘Rant’ certainly was. While the new spot necessarily can’t be as fresh, it capitalizes on the innovation of the first. That usually means less creative glory, but in this case it makes good business sense.

David Fong

President, TBWA/Chiat/Day, Toronto

Blue Light

It seems to me it is contrived. It’s being tactically lead. It’s grasping at an executional idea as opposed to going back to the strategy and staying true to that.

All brands

The real issue is that they’re all bouncing off each other. It’s actually a game of better parity. It’s what I call ‘better parity, better told.’ Who’s going to tell the story better? The problem is when you’re in that type of game all you’re doing is swapping gimmick for gimmick. It’s sort of ‘Here’s the gimmick du jour.’ Then somebody else says, ‘Oh look what they’re doing. We have to come up with something very similar’ – something that is a gimmick du jour as well.