Why Old Style Pilsner is picking up the tab for tuitions

Molson Coors is renewing its push to make the brand as popular with students in Ontario and Quebec as it is in Western Canada.

Old Style Pilsner has long enjoyed strong brand recognition out West. Now, parent company Molson Coors has brewed up a campaign to spread the love to two major university and college markets: Ontario and Quebec.

The push taps into the fact that tuition is often one of the biggest expenses on the mind of college and university students. With its “Pilsner Tuition Tab,” Molson is offering students who are of legal drinking age an opportunity to put $3,000 of their tuition on the brewer – freeing that money up for extracurricular activities, such as a Pilsner party.

Legal drinking age university and college students are one of the biggest demographics for Pil, and the people behind the brand believe this approach will “speak to them and meet them where their needs are,” says Stewart Yepes, senior marketing manager at Molson Coors Canada.

“It’s more of a pull strategy than a push strategy when it comes to messaging, which we believe will be more effective, especially as this group expects engagement and action from brands – not just words,” he says.

Old Style Pilsner has long been a favourite for blue collar drinkers in Western Canada. It was first brewed in Lethbridge, Alberta and became available for the first time in Ontario in the 90s, but the beer didn’t enjoy the same traction as it did out West.

In 2013, Pil returned to the Ontario market and expanded further into Quebec in 2015. It was backed by a campaign that sought to bring its traditional, older customer together with a newer audience of legal, young, college- and university-aged drinkers who would be attracted to the authenticity they saw in its working class roots.

“Authenticity is still a part of what we believe to be important as a brand – we like to say that we ‘welcome the weird,’ which is all about being yourself and not conforming or limited yourself to operate inside the box,” explains Yepes. “What we’re doing by way of this campaign is lessening the burden of student life so they have more leeway and flexibility to do what makes them, them – authentically and weirdly.”

Rethink developed the contest, which is supported by a “fulsome comms plan” that includes social, digital and influencer marketing running from through Nov. 8. Wavemaker handled the digital buy, while Citizen handled PR and influencers.