Canadian Club seeks adventure – and aged whiskey

Kicking off a world treasure hunt at the 'mummified' home of a Toronto tribal art dealer yesterday, Canadian Club launched the first leg of a social media and experiential marketing push.

Amidst a collection of shrunken human skulls, mummies and ancient torture devices, Canadian Club announced the revival of a 40-year-old international treasure hunt yesterday. The whiskey brand, which is owned by Deerfield, IL.-based Beam Global Spirits & Wine, is leveraging an old, 1960s campaign that encouraged adventurers to find hidden cases of Canadian Club, which were dropped off in exotic locations like Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and Mauna Kea Volcano in Hawaii.

Nine of the 25 cases initially dropped in 1967 are still out there, and the brand wants consumers to get excited about finding them again with a Hide A Case campaign that is split into three rounds and will run until April 2011, Canadian Club announced yesterday at the impressive home of tribal art trader (and real-life adventurist) William Jamieson in Toronto.

But the media environment has changed a lot since the first magazine ads – which featured pictures of Kilimanjaro and shadowy film captures of Big Foot sightings in Oregon – appeared in the 1960s. This year, the first round of the contest, launching on Monday, targets the average consumer with online games and quizzes. If they collect 50 points in the online challenges, those who are interested in going further can upload a video explaining why they should be one of eight people chosen to go on the treasure hunt with TV personality Kevin Brauch, of Thirsty Traveler and Iron Chef America fame.

After an online voting component, finalists will take part in the expedition next April, which is an Amazing Race-style hunt for the hidden cases for the chance to win $100,000 (and the whiskey). Media for the campaign, handled by Starcom, with creative by Proximity, both of Toronto, and experiential marketing by Launch!, will be focused online, through social media, while brand ambassadors will hit 100 bars in the next seven weeks offering whiskey cocktails and games to drinkers in the major markets across Canada.

Canadian Club hasn’t done much brand-building since the contest was last promoted in 1991, says Louis Chaffringeon, brand manager, Canadian and American whiskies, at Beam Global Spirits & Wine.

‘We used to talk to an older male target – now we’re going a bit younger,’ Chaffringeon tells MiC. ‘At the same time we feel the brand has lost some relevance, and we have to think about renewing the consumer base,’ he says.

Whiskey has also slipped in the spirits category, which is now dominated by vodka. ‘We’re trying to bring relevance to the category while at the same time competing with the Crown Royals of the world,’ Chaffringeon says.