Shopper Innovation Awards: Shock Top literally speaks for itself

The beer brand broke through with a fast-talking orange slice.
Shock Top_3

This story appears in the April/May 2016 issue of strategy.

Gold: Path to Purchase / Out-of-Store

With more than 900 beer brands sold in Canada, how could a small, relative newcomer like Shock Top break through the notoriously cluttered market? After a disappointing launch a few years earlier, Labatt Breweries and agencies UM and Anomaly were challenged to find a way to make Shock Top stand out among the beer behemoths and popular craft brands.

Young adults enjoy sampling new beer, but they tend to quickly move on to the next shiny thing. The brand needed to pique their interest long enough for the beer to stay on their radar. This was an exceptionally difficult task for a small brand like Shock Top, whose competitors had much larger budgets.

The brand’s strategy was to connect with consumers through memorable interactions. The agencies turned the Shock Top logo into an animated character called Wedgehead, an orange slice with a Mohawk, shades and a cheeky attitude. Billboards in front of retail locations featured a 3D animatronic Wedgehead that would converse with people on the street below: as someone walked by, Wedgehead would interact with them in real time through a nearby voice actor. In addition, talking Shock Top beer tap handles were placed in bars, and cases of the beer were brought to life with similar real-time, personalized executions.

The interactions were filmed and packaged into long-format video content that was pushed nationally via YouTube and the brand’s social channels.

Shock Top became the number two wheat beer in Canada over the course of the “It speaks for itself” campaign and successfully broke through the competitive clutter, with brand awareness and trial increasing by 220%, more than doubling its goal.

Advertiser | Labatt Breweries – Shock Top
VP marketing | Kyle Norrington
Sr. marketing director | Mike Bascom
Brand manager | Mieko Nagao
Creative agency | Anomaly
Account executive | Jordan McKenzie
Media agency | UM
Connections planner | Ian Millar
Connections manager | Rick Kusch