Samuel Adams looks to take its place among Quebec’s premium imports

Who: Moosehead Breweries (Samuel Adams), with Arrivals + Departures and Media Experts for media.

What: “Premium, not precious” (Premium pas precieuse), a Quebec-only campaign attempting to insert the lager into the province’s premium import conversation by driving both awareness and like-ability. Quebec is a key beer market in Canada, with per capita consumption of 77.4 litres (second only to Newfoundland & Labrador, according to Beer Canada). And while sales of domestic beer in the market declined 4.3% in the past year, import sales were up by 3.8%.

When & Where: The campaign launched on Sept. 10 and runs through October in both official languages across TV, digital video, paid social, and out-of-home. The media buy includes partnerships with Radio-Canada, RDS and TheScore.

Why: The goal is to put Samuel Adams in the same conversation as the province’s other premium imports. “The challenge in the… category is that these beers are usually associated by the provenance of an iconic place such as Amsterdam, Dublin or Tokyo,” said Jessica Boland, marketing director, partner brands at Moosehead Breweries. “But in Canada, Samuel Adams is seen as anything but foreign—it’s mistakenly mixed in with domestic or American brands that are brewed locally versus imported.”

How: The creative approach positions Samuel Adams as a premium import, but without the fussiness and pretentiousness common among its rivals. While the ads use traditional beer tropes like beauty shots of a perfect pour, they gently undercut any pretentiousness by showing it paired with a decidedly unpretentious food like cheese puffs.

“From a consumer segmentation perspective, we know that there are drinkers in Quebec, primarily in Montreal, who are prioritizing taste but also are mindful of what their drink of choice says about them when they’re in social gatherings,” said Boland. “These drinkers want a beer that subtly shows that they have discerning tastes but don’t follow the masses and try to look cool.”

The other ads reference the sports rivalry between Boston and Montreal, with a video spot informing viewers that the beer is from Boston, but drinkers can say it’s from New England if they prefer. The billboard ads features a message that loosely translates as “From Boston, but she has a great personality.”

And we quote: “There are so many tropes in the premium import beer category, we knew we could stand out by being transparent, honest, and a little self-deprecating. And to earn the trust with the Quebec beer drinkers we added subtle nods to the longstanding rivalry between Boston and Montreal for fun and good measure.” —Jeff MacEachern, chief creative officer, Arrivals + Departures


Chris Powell