Ungava promotes its ‘Uniquely Canadian’ gin

Who: Pigeon Brands, with Corby Spirits and Wine Limited (Ungava Gin brand). CBC, El Toro Studios and Atelier F for production, with media by Havas Media Canada.

What: “Uniquely Canadian Gin,” a new brand campaign for the Quebec-based gin brand targeting its home market and Ontario. It comes as Pigeon, which has offices in Toronto, Montreal and Mexico City, continues to expand beyond its brand and design roots, incorporating more communications and advertising into its capabilities.

When & Where: The campaign launched on July 26 and runs until Sept. 5. It includes video ads running in Quebec during Radio-Canada’s coverage of the Tokyo Games, as well as standard broadcast advertising in Ontario. It’s being supported by out-of-home in Toronto and Montreal, as well as paid online and social.

Why: Ungava sold nearly 400,000 bottles in Canada last year, but the campaign comes as Canadians are increasingly willing to support homegrown brands, said Pigeon Brands general manager Ania Russocki.

“It’s such an amazing moment in time to really put a focus on our country, and the whole idea of pride of place,” she said. “It’s tugging on the heartstrings of exploring one’s own country.”

Ungava, a reference to Ungava Bay in Northern Quebec, is made with botanicals that are native to the region and features a distinctive yellow colour that is prominently featured in the marketing.

The Quebec-born gin marked its 10th anniversary earlier this year with new packaging featuring a map of the region, as well as a new unique tapered bottle shape. The bottles also include a sticker promoting the Prohibition-era cocktail, the bees knees.

According to data aggregator Statista, gin sales in Canada reached $378.4 million last year, up from $213.7 million in 2015. Ontario and Quebec are its two biggest markets, with sales of $245.8 million during the fiscal year ended March 31, 2020. Corby acquired the Ungava brand for $12 million in 2016.

How: While the creative uses the same visuals, it employs different approaches tailored for the respective markets. In Ontario, the creative shows off Ungava’s distinctive bottle shape and yellow colour, while emphasizing that Ungava is a Canadian product.

In Quebec, where consumers are more familiar with the brand, the creative approach emphasizes the flavour of the gin itself, noting that there was nothing they needed to change about the product itself, so they changed the bottle instead.

And we quote: “Amidst a growing number of competitors in a highly dynamic category and with the launch of Ungava Gin’s new bottle and packaging, we wanted the brand communication to resonate in the minds of both new consumers in Ontario and existing gin drinkers in Québec.” — Aurelie Goffinet, senior brand manager, Ungava Gin, Corby Spirits and Wine Limited


Chris Powell