Sleeman celebrates craftiness

The beer company has unveiled new creative and a revised brand positioning ahead of the suds-heavy summer season.


Sleeman Breweries has launched a new brand positioning and campaign for its flagship brand ahead of the beer-heavy summer season, one that aspires to capture the “spirit of craftier thinking” at the heart of the country’s third-largest brewer.

The&Partnership led on the work, which includes new creative, a revised brand positioning and a packaging refresh impacting the brand’s entire product line-up. It comes as Sleeman Breweries focuses on growing its premium brands as part of a strategy to drive long-term growth, says Dana Brochu, director of marketing.

“While we have been able to successfully grow the brand over the last several years, we want to be sure that we continue to share our values of crafty thinking in a way that continues to be relevant for all beer drinkers as we move forward,” she tells strategy via email. “There was an opportunity to look at our advertising in a modern day context and explore how we can engage and involve the consumer in our shared values.”

A 30-second commercial features a series of Sleeman drinkers performing various “beer hacks,” such as turning an empty beer can into a popcorn popper and a mini-barbecue, or pouring Sleeman into ice cube trays to make beer cubes.

The campaign includes digital and social content – in which the company will be asking beer drinkers to share their own beer hacks – as well as a website redesign and new “Here’s to Craftier Thinking” tagline. It launched May 7 and will run across Engligh and French TV and digital channels throughout the summer months.

Brochu says there are two main consumer insights behind the strategy and execution. Despite being the country’s third-largest brewer and owned by international company Sapporo, consumers view Sleeman as different from “mainstream” brands “based on our history of breaking convention and our heritage of brewing unique and approachable beer styles.”

Secondly, she says, younger beer drinkers often feel they have less control over many aspects of their lives and therefore identify with Sleeman’s “crafty” perspective of the world. “Celebrating this alignment of values with the Sleeman brand is empowering to all our drinkers and makes them a key part of the brand experience.”

Sleeman Packaging

Sleeman’s new packaging design began rolling out in April. Changes to its core Original Draught, Clear 2.0 and Light labels bring renewed focus on the brand’s heritage, quality and easy-drinking appeal, while updates to the company’s specialty portfolio feature stories and illustrations that highlight each beer’s unique profile.

The&Partnership was named AOR for Sleeman Breweries in 2017 and has been leading work for the Sleeman and Sapporo brands from its Toronto office. Last summer, it led a North American campaign for Sapporo, building on a platform that has emphasized the beer’s Japanese heritage.

Sleeman Breweries’ portfolio in Canada also includes Okanagan Spring, Unibroue and Pabst Blue Ribbon, and last year it launched a Squeez’d Beverages division, a line of no-sugar-added ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages.

Marketing director Scott Pederson moved to Sapporo U.S. at the beginning of this year. Previously, he and Brochu served as lead marketers on the Sapporo and Sleeman brands in Canada, respectively. Brochu has since taken on Pederson’s previous responsibilities.