Steam Whistle’s ‘surprisingly affordable’ TV debut

The ad, created by Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG, will air in Ontario during CBC's The Hour - but stardom doesn't mean the community-oriented brand will blow off sponsorship efforts.

It’s not unusual for agencies to approach Steam Whistle Brewing, a Toronto-based brewery, with ads they’ve created on spec. However, none had ever captured the true essence of the brand, says Sybil Taylor, Steam Whistle’s director of marketing, until a 30-second spot presented to them last month by Sharpe Blackmore Euro RSCG ‘nailed it,’ she says.

With a closeup of the bottle being opened in front of various different background party settings, the ad began airing this week across Ontario on CBC’s The Hour, with media planned and bought by Havas-owned MPG.

‘I suppose our option could have been to play it once, at three in the morning up in Sudbury, but…they did some research and they proposed that we air it on The Hour here in Ontario,’ Taylor tells MiC. ‘We were sort of surprised at how affordable the medium was. It was something we’ve never explored before.’

Media placement alongside the news program, running weeknights for the next month, falls in line with the brand’s youthful image, association with pop culture and target demo of 25- to 34-year-olds, she adds.

Steam Whistle normally reserves its marketing budget for event sponsorships – the independent brewery involved in about 200 cultural, charitable or community events per year. For instance, this weekend it will help cyclists replenish their electrolytes with a beer garden after The Ride to Conquer Cancer, and it’s the type of marketing the brand will continue doing.

Taylor says she hopes consumers won’t think Steam Whistle’s foray into television means they’re a big, international brewery like many of their competitors. ‘I guess we’ll just sort of gauge reaction. But we also thought this ad was so simple in its execution but playful in its message that it would resonate with people,’ she says.