Kokanee goes to the movies

The details on the Labatt brand's move to the big screen, for which it's asking fans to participate.

Labatt’s Kokanee is going where few beers have gone before: the big screen. Filming this summer, Kokanee’s spokes-characters (a ranger duo and a Sasquatch) will star in “Movie Out Here,” a giant engagement platform that invites consumers to participate by either auditioning to play a role, submitting a prop or location, or offering up music for the soundtrack.

The movie is the brainchild of Toronto-based Grip Limited, and was a natural evolution of the brand’s narrative, says Randy Stein, partner, creative, Grip.

The brand has featured the Sasquatch and ranger characters in its commercials, and a few years ago, it asked consumers whether or not the ranger should be killed off. The resounding answer was “yes,” and Stein says the campaign saw more votes cast than the Alberta provincial election that year. It has since used this consumer-directed approach on a greater scale,  including last year’s effort to choose new rangers, which saw the brand’s biggest social media jump to date, making Kokanee one of Facebook’s most engaged beer brands in North America, almost doubling the brand’s page followings and increasing Facebook page views by almost 1,000%.

“We had this long-running narrative that meshed nicely with getting consumers engaged, so when it came time for this year’s plan, it was ‘how do we top what we’ve been doing?’” Stein says.

At press time the script was in the process of being finalized and the film is being heavily promoted in bars and restaurants, on packaging, online and through social media. Once they have their first batch of participants (the extras and the props), they will begin filming, Stein says, adding that throughout the entire production process, Grip and Labatt will leverage the film to promote the Kokanee brand through social media and in advertising. While details are still being finalized, Stein says Alliance Atlantis will distribute the film in theatres in early 2013.

“The joke is that every advertiser or copywriter has a screenplay in the top drawer of his or her desk,” says Stein. “Movies are the next level and there’s a lot of cachet that goes with that.”