Who: Auxly Cannabis Group, with Chicago agency Varyer and UM Canada for media.
What: “Monday Merries,” a campaign promoting Auxly’s one-year-old Back Forty brand, including its new pre-rolled and edibles products. With its higher potency, Auxly’s senior director of marketing Brad Canario describes Back 40 as a brand catering to cannabis enthusiasts. “They have a good sense of quality and price from before legalization…and are looking for a fair product,” he said.
When & Where: The largest campaign in Auxly’s four-year history, it launched at the start of the month and runs for approximately six weeks. It’s anchored by digital/social and wild postings in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and Toronto, all driving to a dedicated website (NationalSparks.ca) that houses resources aimed at helping people better enjoy Mondays. There’s also a “Monday Merries” hotline featuring content delivered by a J. Peterman (of Seinfeld fame) soundalike.
Why: It’s a tongue-in-cheek campaign designed to help the Back Forty brand stand out in a crowded consumer segment by using what Canario describes as an ownable idea.
“It’s a values-based campaign rooted in the idea of escapism, permission and encouraging people to get outside,” he said. “If we can own escapism and the outdoors, consumers who are passionate about the outdoors are going to choose us because we have those values in common.”
The company is also trying to build a list of prospective customers by inviting them to take a pledge to become a “Monday conservationist,” which includes providing their name and email address.
How: Because cannabis advertising is so highly regulated, with brands forbidden from using testimonials or celebrities, or associating their products with lifestyle (a common tactic in beverage alcohol advertising), they have been forced to come up with distinctive, and even oblique, ways of going to market.
The creative approach employed in the “Monday Merries” campaign is rooted in the idea that Canadians are drawn to the great outdoors (AKA: the “back forty”), and that need has only become more acute during the pandemic. At the same time, their joy of getting outside is often tempered by the knowledge that Monday—and a return to work—is always just around the corner. The campaign urges Canadians to take Mondays off so they can get back to nature (wink, wink).
All of the messaging is presented by a fictional entity called the National Sparks Department, which boasts a retro visual identity mimicking the former look of Canada’s national park system—from its muted brown and yellow colour scheme, to a grainy ’80s-looking video showing people enjoying the Canadian outdoors.
The work was specifically designed to evoke a feeling of nostalgia among consumers, said Canario. “It feels familiar. You can’t really put your finger on it, but you know you’ve seen it someplace. It’s very inviting and something that meshes well with the brand.”
The hotline: The NationalSparks.ca website houses an array of resources aimed at helping people enjoy Mondays outdoors, from a random excuse generator that presents reasons why people can’t work that day (including “I’m really behind on my podcasts” and “ex mom is going into labour”) to at-work resources including an urban guide to birding and a “Monday state of mind” playlist.
There is also a “Monday Merries” hotline (1-855-MONDAYZ or 1-855-666-3293) that offers resources to help people make the most of their Monday. One option includes the ability to listen to relaxing nature sounds like the wind and thunder, as well as various animals like frogs and coyotes, but all of the sounds are clearly being made by a human.
Why a U.S. agency? “Their philosophy on building brands really meshed well with ours,” said Canario. After Auxley presented the Chicago agency with the campaign idea on a Thursday, it presented them with a nearly finished version of the video that appears on the NationalSparks.ca website the following Monday. “We had to go through the proper editing process, but it was an agency that within hours understood [what] we were trying to achieve and delivered a near-final asset,” he said.