Granville Island goes behind the scenes of socially distant production

The Molson-owned brewery leans into its history of support for B.C.'s arts and entertainment industry.


With isolation in full effect, Granville Island Brewing used the tools it had at its disposal like Zoom and iPhones to not only make creative content, but also to give viewers a behind-the-scenes look at its approach.

The result is two spots celebrating its seasonal beers, but also a “Making Of” video that takes viewers through framing, performance, art direction and makeup and styling tips coming from the crew, all organized over Zoom.

With self-isolation, many brands have relied on motion graphics, animation and stock images for content during the pandemic, so Granville Island wanted to go with new live action shots, says Marissa Mills, brand manager for Granville Island Brewing.

For the three videos, the crew brought their own wigs, masks and a dog to the shoot, and the brewery hired local acting talent as a show of support for British Columbia’s film and TV industry, which have been struggling since new productions have been shut down (there’s even a nod to the province’s film sector at the beginning of each ad, and Granville Island Brewing also made a donation to the Actors Fund of Canada’s Emergency Financial Aid).

Mills says agency Rethink had a big hand in concepting the video, and going “behind the scenes was a fun and interesting look at how we made it all work.” But unlike “making of” videos produced for other campaigns, Granville’s video also has a clear connection to its brand positioning. According to Mills, being from Granville Island, the craft brewery feels “ingrained with arts and culture that’s so vibrant” there.  She says the brand has been involved with several arts-related events, and that positive, enjoyable times go hand-in-hand with beer, even if they aren’t done in person at festivals or bars.

In addition to the making of video, there are two scripted spots that revolve around Granville’s new Watermelon Lager and Island Cerveza offerings.

Mills tells strategy that with the creative, it wanted to focus on new seasonal offerings, which were released on schedule at the beginning of April, despite the pandemic. “We had plans for a launch party and OOH, as well as lots of events, but we were forced to pivot strategy,” she says.

The brand is hoping its product innovation, unique even to the crowded craft beer category, can get it through tough times. Its new Cuban-style cerveza is brewed with cane sugar, which distinguishes it from Mexican-style cerveza, and the lager is made with real watermelon flavour. The packaging is styled to reflect the brand’s re-branded core lineup of beers, part of the Molson-owned brand’s recent efforts to lean harder into its craft-style offerings.

To further promote the campaign, Granville Island’s brand crew team is doing weekly Instagram live series on Friday, “Between Two Pints” a riff on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ popular web show.

“We can’t do tastings, but we can discuss our beers to give people fun engagement and elevated knowledge,” Mills says; knowing the ins-and-outs of the beverages they drink has long been a hallmark of craft beer consumers. The show topics include how to use beer in cooking and in recipes, the brewing process, cleaning glassware and how beer can be included in cooking and recipes.