Guys will be guys the world over, says Canadian Club

No matter what country you live in, what language you speak or what culture and religion you embrace, there are some things that are the same the world over.
At least, that's the view of Corby Distilleries' new TV ad campaign, which aims to build the universal guy appeal of its Canadian Club rye whiskey.

No matter what country you live in, what language you speak or what culture and religion you embrace, there are some things that are the same the world over.

At least, that’s the view of Corby Distilleries’ new TV ad campaign, which aims to build the universal guy appeal of its Canadian Club rye whiskey.

The latest spot, ‘Ouch,’ which hit the nation’s airwaves on Nov. 19, illustrates the common empathy that men feel when sporting injuries occur.

It features a group of sports fans in a bar, drinking whiskey and watching a soccer game on TV. The accent of the commentator indicates that the scene is in England. The spot then cuts to a virtually identical scene, only this time the bar is in Jamaica, and then the third and fourth scenes show the same event taking place in India and Sweden, each time the language of the commentary changing accordingly. As one of the players in the soccer game is kicked in his most sensitive spot, the viewer sees subsequent shots of each bar scene in rapid succession. All the spectators around the world wince simultaneously and make an empathetic ‘ouch’ sound. The spot then ends with the tag line: ’151 countries. One Rye. Canadian Club.’

‘I don’t think there can be a guy on the planet that hasn’t had that painful experience,’ says Brian Hickling, creative director at Toronto agency Goodgoll Curtis, which developed the campaign. ‘We are able to illustrate the common connection between guys and guy-truths on a global scale.’

Canadian Club was traditionally marketed towards much older consumers, but in the last three years, Corby Distilleries has repositioned it onto the younger market. ‘We wanted to make the brand more relevant to twentysomething consumers because that is where the growth opportunity exists in the marketplace,’ says Mike Minchin, VP of marketing at Corby Distilleries. ‘And echo boomers are coming of drinking age so it’s an opportunity to target that group as it grows.’

‘Ouch’ is primarily shooting for the 25- to 35-year-old male, although its lighthearted, humorous approach has a broad appeal across all demographics. ‘The ads are really designed to appeal to all generations and we deliberately included some women and older guys in the visuals so nobody is alienated,’ says Hickling. ‘I think females will get a kick out of it from an observational point of view.’

Canadian Club was already positioned as an international brand following an earlier ad campaign by Goodgoll Curtis. ‘We didn’t want to lose the humour or the international caché because it was so effective,’ says Hickling. ‘There are very few internationally recognized Canadian brands so we had a great opportunity to take this product, sold in 151 countries, and play it on the world stage.’

The campaign also includes a second spot, ‘Finger,’ which follows the same international flavour, and is set in bars in Japan, Germany, Sweden and Australia. It describes a traditional bar gag, which is universal among men of a certain mental age.

Hickling says it was a deliberate choice not to use subtitles during the international dialogue. ‘It is part of the veil that draws the viewer in because you don’t initially understand. Then it all makes sense at the end.’ Particularly with ‘Finger,’ the English-speaking viewer is completely in the dark until the Australian guy comes on screen in the last scene. ‘These are designed to be very visual spots that don’t need a lot of heavy dialogue,’ Hickling explains.

Despite the international settings, both spots were shot entirely in South Africa in order to be cost effective, and to provide the agency with easy access to an international cast.

Hickling, sharing another universal truth, hopes the campaign will be followed with further executions in 2002.