Canadian Club gets adventurous

Canadian Club believes it goes hand-in-hand with near-death experiences.

Canadian Club believes it goes hand-in-hand with near-death experiences.
The Deerfield, IL.-based Beam Global Spirits & Wine brand recently launched its first TV campaign since 2001, celebrating the bonding that takes place when friends share tales of derring-do.
Two TV spots depict guys in perilous circumstances: one running for his life through a forest, another on the ledge of a high rise in his skivvies. The ads drive to, where there are prizes and drink recipes to be won.
 Developed by Toronto-based Juniper Park, it’s an attempt to bring Canadian Club back to being the top-of-mind whisky choice for Canadians, says Louis Chaffringeon, brand manager, Beam Global Canada.
Canadian Club has long been associated with adventure. Its storied “Hide a Case” promotion ran from 1967 to 1991, featuring print ads calling on adventurers to hunt for 25 cases of CC hidden in exotic locales all over the world. Nine remain hidden. The brand revived the promotion in May with an updated version at, which will pit four Canadians against four Americans in an Amazing Race-style expedition set to get underway in April.
“[The brand] had lost its way, trying different things for a few years,” says Chaffringeon. “We tried to do something that’s really fun.”
We asked Jack Neary, CCO at TBWAToronto, and Marc Belcourt, brand communications manager, BMW Group Canada, to tell us if
CC’s latest adventure is more worthy of Indiana Jones or Don Quixote.

Overall strategy
I raise my glass and toast the creators of this work. Canadian Club with the boys fuels the spinning of stories. The best stories are based on adventure. The nexus of these two premises makes for a very sweet spot for this brand to live.
Belcourt: My personal adventure started with attempting to discover a link between the two campaigns “Hide a Case” and “Adventure.”  Perhaps I shouldn’t have ditched orienteering class, but for the life of me, I couldn’t find a single connection – other than the spirit of adventure.

Creative adventure or misadventure
Neary: The dissonance of the opening narrative (“This is the best day of your life”) and images of a man perched precariously on a ledge or running for his life in some gloomy glade provide a powerful hook that pulls you through to the unexpected ending. Any Jack London worth his salt can see this work (TV and online) has got all the key elements of highly involving storytelling that take you straight to the heart of the brand.
Belcourt: It’s always nice to see alcohol companies play outside the traditional messaging of “you buy, you cool.” The creativity and online execution behind the “Adventure” campaign is thorough. The TV spots scare me enough to reach for a double CC. Should a viewer take it online, there is quite a bit of work involved to release clues for the ultimate reward: “The Brave Banana” cocktail. While understanding the interest in speaking to a younger demo, the content shouldn’t be lifted from a Sigma Chi Homecoming menu.

Return of “Hide a Case”
Neary: While it would be a tall tale to say I was weaned on whisky, I did spend an inordinate amount of time as a kid studying the Canadian Club ads chronicling the hiding of cases in the far-flung corners of the globe. The revival of this promotional idea feels timeless and right and the beauty of it is only CC could do it. The fit between this promotion and the rest of the campaign is very tight.
Belcourt: With 24 years of equity, the return of “Hide a Case” needed to be considered.  I respect the strategy to go after original missing cases as opposed to planting new cases in less remote, urban centres where the desired demo lingers.  “Hide a Case” is just that – hidden. This is the big idea. The equity is there. I question why additional funds were invested in a second “Adventure” campaign when there was an opportunity to invest in and recreate the romance of the original campaign. I’m gunning for a sponsorship of Boardwalk Empire. That intro does wonders for Canadian whisky.

The creds advertiser Canadian Club Whisky; agency Juniper Park; executive CDs Terry Drummond, Alan Madill, Barry Quinn; CD/AD Hylton Mann; CD/copywriter Andy Linardatos; account team David Toto, Jennifer Christen, Amy Greenspoon