Seeking new (younger) drinkers, Molson invites ‘Everyone In’

Who: Molson Coors Canada, with Rethink for strategy and creative; Brand Opus for branding; Steam Films for production (James Michael Chiang directing); Nimiopere, Studio Feather, and Alter Ego for post-production; Jigsaw Casting, and Wavemaker for media.

What: “Everyone In,” a new brand platform for the Molson family of brands. It is the first over-arching brand platform for the entire Molson portfolio—which includes Canadian, Ultra, Exel, Export and Dry—and represents a major (and ongoing) shift in its go-to-market strategy.

When & Where: The national campaign debuted on March 29, and runs through Dec. 31 across TV/online video (:30s and :15s), cinema, in-arena and out-of-home. It also includes a made-in-Quebec version of the spot, featuring province-specific locations not included in the English version.

Not surprisingly, the media buy from Wavemaker will feature a heavy emphasis on the upcoming NHL playoffs, but Leslie Malcolm, senior director of marketing, Molson and global brands, at Molson Coors Canada, said the brand will also have a significant media presence during the summer months.

Why: Well, there are few factors at play here. Most significantly, the campaign represents the beer brand’s commitment to “bring everyone to the bar” and reflect what it is to be Canadian in 2023, said Malcolm.

Molson has defined what it is to be Canadian for a long time, she said. But the country has changed markedly from its “I Am Canadian” heyday, which was largely a celebration of traditional Canadian values, and this is an attempt to reflect that in its marketing.

“It was really important to us that every Canadian be able to see themselves—their neighbours, their sisters, brothers, friends—in this spot, and that be true regardless of age, ethnicity, body type, sexual orientation,” she said. “The moment is now to ensure that we are inviting everyone to the bar with us.”

While Molson has done some brand activation work addressing the “new” Canada, this is the first time it has done something “at scale” with an eye towards making it a brand cornerstone, said Rethink partner and creative director, Robbie Percy.

It comes as the major brewers, and heritage brands like Canadian in particular, have lost ground in recent years—not only to the never-ending wave of craft beers and the rising tide of hard seltzer brands like White Claw, but also to global behemoths like Budweiser. “Within the beer industry in particular, I think there’s a bit of a job to be done in evolving and making sure we are reflecting where are consumers are at today,” said Malcolm.

“We really want to invite the next generation of drinkers into Molson, and we have a belief that… the legal drinking age consumer probably hasn’t seen Molson, because we haven’t seen them,” said Malcolm. “We absolutely want to see more drinkers coming into the brand.”

How: Shot on 35mm film to create a deliberately textured feel (“we wanted the whole thing to have a real, raw, authentic…and a tactile quality to it,” said Percy), the 60-second anthem spot was shot at bars, taverns, watering holes, noodle houses etc. all across the country.

It shows happy people of all generations, ethnicities, etc. enjoying one of the Molson brands in a casual setting. “Whether you’re into pucks, or wickets, or red cards,” says the voiceover. “Whether you’re new in town or you’ve been around for a while…whatever your name is, there’s a Molson with your name on it.”

“In many ways this is a love letter to Canada, and [our ambition] was to make sure that every Canadian be able to see themselves in this campaign,” said Malcolm. “That meant making sure we showed a lot of depth in the locations we shot at. Whether you’re in Lethbridge, Alberta or Thunder Bay, or New Brunswick, you can feel like you see your local pub or noodle shop in the spot.”

And while beer ads tend to focus almost exclusively on younger people, there’s a pointed shot of an older couple enjoying Export. “It certainly was intentional,” said Malcolm. “This campaign is called ‘Everyone In’ and that meant inviting everyone.

“Yes there was a need for us to evolve the Molson brand, but we absolutely want to invite and encourage older drinkers and caucasian drinkers who have been with our brand for a very long time to continue to come to the bar with us,” she said. “It was about making sure we were still talking to them, while inviting the next generation in with us.”

The song: The spot is soundtracked by the Drake song “One Dance,” which Percy said checked all of the boxes in terms of the vibe. It was important to use a song by a Canadian artist in a spot about Canada, but it was also important for the spot to feel “contemporary and exciting,” with a hint of energy, said Percy. “The song we ended up using does bring all of those things together in a really nice way. So it just felt like a really nice fit.”

The future of beer marketing is female: The new work is the first major initiative from Molson Coors since a series of internal appointments within the broader Molson Coors family.

In February, former CMO Michelle St. Jacques Molson was promoted to chief commercial officer, replaced by former global vice-president, Miller family of brands and economy portfolio Sofia Colucci.

Malcolm assumed her current role in November, after spending the previous two years as brand director, seltzer, flavour and emerging growth. Rounding out the women leadership on the brand is senior brand manager, Molson and Miller trademarks, Sophia Lal.

“We are bringing fresh, new perspectives to the beer category,” said Malcolm. “The category has been under pressure [but] we absolutely believe there is a ton more growth to be found in this category, and I think part of that is making sure we are able to bring more diverse perspectives to the table.

“A fundamental cornerstone of our culture is to invite more people to the bar, and to make sure we are inviting more people to the bar, we need to make sure we have a leadership team that reflects the diversity of Canada.”

And we quote: “We want all Canadians to be proud to order and drink Molson. The reason we take our commercials so seriously is that they set the tone for the entire organization—we want these spots to galvanize not just Canadians, but also our employees and our partners. We feel a sense of responsibility to be loud and proud about what Molson stands for.” — Leslie Malcolm, senior director, global brands in Canada, Molson Coors

Chris Powell