Rye me! Canadian Club challenges beer

Canadian Club is challenging beer’s traditional dominance as the alcohol of choice for BBQs, sports watching and other social occasions with a new spot from Taxi.

After previously adapting international creative, Taxi has now developed Canada-specific work around the Beam Suntory’s brand’s longstanding “Over Beer” positioning, which has been credited with driving sales growth in multiple markets.

The “Beer Fridge” spot broke last week and is running in English and French, with the media buy from Starcom including TV, online video and social. Production is by Suneeva (Marc Zidelsky directing), with The Vanity for post-production and Eggplant Music & Sound.

The 30-second spot opens on a group of friends watching a hockey game, although one man (probably a Leafs fan) looks like something is troubling him. When his friend asks him what’s wrong, he sheepishly admits that he doesn’t like beer anymore.

It’s a candid revelation that brings the hockey game to a halt, with players and officials looking on in disbelief. Asked why he’s drinking beer if he doesn’t like it, the man justifies his choice by saying that they have a beer fridge.

With the song “I can see clearly now” playing in the background, the spot continues with another group of friends on an outdoor balcony, where one of the original group voices his opinion that their mutual friend may be onto something.

“Oh he’s definitely onto something,” says one, leading another person in their friend circle to put down her beer. She’s then featured in another shot with a group of friends enjoying pizza and beer, when she says “I just thought they went together.”

“We wanted that domino effect to sort of ripple through the spot,” said Taxi’s chief creative officer Alexis Bronstorph of the creative approach. The spot continues with someone asking “Who made beer the go-to?” before one of their social group cracks open a bottle of Canadian Club and makes a rye and ginger cocktail.

While “rye me” might not have quite the same ring as “beer me,” sales data suggests that Canadians are increasingly favouring spirits over suds. According to Statistics Canada data, beer sales worked out to 72.1 litres for every person over the legal drinking for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, the lowest per person volume since the organization began tracking alcohol sales in 1950.

Spirit sales, meanwhile, rose 6% to $6 billion, with whisky accounting for 29.9% of all sales, ahead of vodka (25%) and rum (15.1%).

“[The campaign] is speaking to that moment of realization that you don’t have to drink beer during those moments,” said Bronstorph. “For a lot of people, I think [beer] is a fallback instead of the thing they truly want to be drinking. When you think ‘I feel like a drink’ and you reach for a beer out of habit, you don’t have to anymore.”

Chris Powell