Forty Creek ups its media spend, ventures into TV

The whisky brand is embarking on its most expensive campaign yet as it aims to tell its brand story to Canadians.

Canadian whisky Forty Creek is about to embark on what brand manager John Andersen says is its largest media spend ever and go somewhere it’s never gone before: TV.

Andersen told MiC most of the brand’s media spend traditionally has gone to small radio, print and out-of-home ads, all centered largely around Ontario. “They were never really part of a broader campaign, just focused on product credentials,” he said.

Now, the brand awareness campaign, “From a Good Place,” is centered around telling the story of Forty Creek’s heritage, featuring master blender Bill Ashburn. A spring-themed commercial, which dropped earlier this week, will air until June, and an autumn-themed spot will air from October to November.

Both commercials will have 15- and 30-second versions and will be positioned mainly against sports, late-night programming and male-skewing specialty channels such as Discovery and History. The ad will also be distributed digitally on YouTube and TSN as pre-roll.

While Andersen would not disclose the exact media spend, he said the campaign is aiming broadly to capture the male, 25 to 54 demographic. “Because we’ve never really gone out like this in market before, we wanted to make sure we’re speaking to a broader audience and just telling the brand story.”

Andersen said the brand is in fifth in Canada for market share, and that its popularity has gone up over the last several years. So what changed for Forty Creek after years of keeping it quiet?

The year 2014 was a turning point for the brand, said Andersen, when it won 10 awards at the Canadian Whisky Awards, including Flavoured Whisky of the Year. Those awards, said Andersen, put the wind in the brand’s sails and gave it an opportunity to capitalize and gain even more popularity.

“This presented an opportunity to us because we knew now was the time to tell the story of the brand to consumers,” said Andersen. “The profile of the brand has been raised, so it was time to put a bit more behind it.”

Andersen said following the awards, the brand consciously took its time when planning and creating the first campaign to research the market’s behaviours and rationale.