The beer out here – and there?

Kokanee has cemented its place as 'the beer out here' in western Canada. Question is, can it snag itself a portion of the considerably more sizable Ontario market?

Kokanee has cemented its place as ‘the beer out here’ in western Canada. Question is, can it snag itself a portion of the considerably more sizable Ontario market?

The Creston, B.C.-brewed label, which is owned by Toronto-based Labatt, supported its first big push into Ontario with a campaign by Toronto-based agency Grip, including TV, print, outdoor, PR and field efforts.

In the 30-second TV spot, a snowboarder cruises down a majestic B.C. mountain and smashes into the window of a Toronto high-rise – ready to party, no doubt – with a voiceover proclaiming ‘you can get the best of B.C., at home in Ontario…. ‘

The campaign also included a ‘Kokanee Konvoy,’ which involved five 18-wheelers trekking across Canada from Creston to Toronto, stopping in various Ontario cities along the way. Once in Toronto, the Konvoy, which made the trip in March, travelled down Yonge Street to its final party destination on British Columbia Road, where it joined Olympic snowboarding gold medalist Ross Rebagliati as well as the Kokanee girls.

‘We’ve already doubled the business [in Ontario],’ says Harvey Carroll, VP marketing at Labatt.

We asked Bill Downie, VP/CD at Publicis Vancouver and Catherine Wong, senior AD at TBWAToronto, how smoothly this campaign goes down.

Overall concept

BD: The TV ad and the ‘But legal’ print execution [below] best capture the attitude of today’s Wild West as it relates to the twentysomething beer drinker. The ‘Never return’ [featuring a shot of mountains with the tag: 'Why people go out West and never return'] and ‘Descent’ [a similar shot with tag: 'Making the descent from B.C. daily'] ads are weak. This age group can handle a lot more edge.

CW: Overall, the message is clear. The positioning of B.C. beer in Ontario is unique. And the subtleties of cold, clean beer from the mountains works.


BD: I like the Konvoy because it brings B.C., literally, to Toronto. Ross Rebagliati is the right spokesperson for any beer drinking, half-my-age male who loves B.C. and all it stands for, most of which is snowboarding.

CW: The Konvoy portion is the most spectacular simply because it’s a spectacle. It has a balance of good times without being too cheesy.


BD: The TV spot works for the same reasons the Konvoy works (Kokanee brings the West to the East). It’s a bit of a literal concept but it’s surprising and entertaining. Not to mention, the target is still at that invincible age and flying through an apartment window would seem like a cool idea.

CW: Bring back the sasquatch. [Kokanee's popular ads in western Canada have featured mountain patrollers on the lookout for an elusive sasquatch.]

Print/ OOH

BD: Ask Ross Rebagliati why the ‘But legal’ execution works.

CW: Bulletin board art direction [two of the print ads are faux bulletin board notices] usually says spontaneous and random, but each execution looks exactly the same. It’s also apparent that they had to survive too many focus groups. Do we really need to see logos on both a bottle and a glass to understand that this is a Kokanee beer ad?

The creds:

Client – Labatt Breweries of Canada:

Jamie Humphries, brand manager; Matthew Ramella, media strategist; Harvey Carroll, VP marketing; Betsy Cooper, manager, corporate affairs

Ad agency – Grip:

Bob Shanks, Alan Madill, Terry Drummond, partners;

Trent Fulton, associate partner; Adrienne Gordon, business manager; Kimber Slater, account co-ordinator; Jacki Powell, project manager

PR – Hill & Knowlton Canada:

Kadi Kaljuste, SVP; Kristy Derkson, account director; Teri Broughton, consultant; Erica Faltous, assistant consultant

Field marketing agency – Mosaic:

Jeff Rogers, VP; Ryan Kruger, account manager; Meighann Cassidy, account manager