Weekend countdown clock blasts forth Blue’s free time message

Agency/media company*

Agency/media company*

Labatt Media Group/Ammirati Puris


Labatt Breweries of Canada


Labatt Blue Light

Media budget

Less than $30,000

Media used

Out-of-home (10′ x 44′ superboard)


May 7 through August 31, 2001

Media team

Ian Brooks, brand solutions manager, Labatt Breweries of Canada

Alison Binkley, media manager, Ammirati Puris

(now at Labatt Media Group)

The background

Blue Light is the light beer brand that recognizes and champions the need adults aged 25 to 34 have for more free time in the fast-paced society they live in.

The objective of Blue Light’s outdoor campaign was threefold: First, to bring to life Blue Light’s positioning of ‘Free Your Time,’ secondly, to garner some talk value for the brand in Toronto and, thirdly, to sell more Blue Light.

The plan

Picture Fred Flintstone working hard in the quarry on a Friday afternoon, as the clock is about to strike 5 o’clock. Now envision the whistle blowing and Fred punching out with his time card, leaving the quarry and beginning to celebrate his own free time. This was the inspiration for the Blue Light Weekend Countdown Clock superboard erected in Toronto last summer. As Fred would say: ‘Yabba dabba doo!’

Out-of-home was the chosen medium for several reasons: Its larger-than-life size, the flexibility to choose location-specific sites, and its proven track record for delivering talk value.

We strategically selected the north-facing superboard at Front & Bay streets for several reasons:

* To have a presence downtown where the Monday-to-Friday rat race is most intense

* To ensure mass pedestrian traffic (vehicular traffic was considered bonus impressions)

* To be adjacent to Union Station where commuters rush to and from work

* To be in close proximity to the Air Canada Centre where people attend sporting events and concerts, enjoying their free time

* As a bonus, the location was also close to Lakeshore Boulevard and the Gardiner Expressway, the two main downtown thoroughfares commuters use to escape from work

Sight, sound and motion – components traditionally only available in television – were integrated into the superboard through the use of four main components: copy and branding, a 3D logo/branding extension, an electronic digital clock with scrolling text, and 3D horns that actually worked. This was made possible by working very closely with the creative team, Mediacom (now Viacom Outdoor), and a third-party electronics supplier.

From midnight on Sundays to 4:59 p.m. on Friday afternoons, the digital clock would count down to the weekend… the universal icon of free time. Then, at 5 p.m. on Friday, the horns sounded, signaling the end of the Monday to Friday work week grind and the start of the celebration of free time. Once the horn finished blasting, the clock would stop and text messages appeared. Text messages ran throughout the weekend announcing local events consumers could partake in – giving them a reason and an outlet to celebrate their own free time.

The results

* Versus one year ago, Blue Light’s brand share increased by 12% – phenomenal growth for the beer category.

* The ‘Countdown to the Weekend’ idea generated tons of talk value for the brand, estimated to be worth over $150,000.

* By associating Blue Light with the universal icon of free time – the weekend – we met the objective of bringing to life the fact that Blue Light is the champion of free time.

*Note: This plan was written by Alison Binkley while employed at Ammirati Puris. She continues to plan for Blue Light at Labatt’s in-house agency, the Labatt Media Group.

Judges’ verdict

‘A great idea that really connected to the brand essence and the message of ‘free your time.’ I also thought the location selection showed strategic thinking and connected to the target’s mindset.’

‘The strategic link to the creative positioning of ‘free your time’ was strong. The location selected provided a broad reach of people in the right frame of mind. The 3-D horn and digital clock made it organic and alive; while the text messages added an element of useful information, timely and relevant.’

‘This plan shows that you don’t need big dollars to make an impact – it really created a new use for a traditional medium while fulfilling all planned objectives.’