Once a staple of beer marketing, the in-case giveaway has fallen off in recent years as consumers have gravitated towards more personalized products and experiences. Molson and agency partners Rethink and Citizen Relations recently brought it back, however, albeit with a modern-era twist.
The idea for Canadian’s new social-led campaign started last month, when hip-hop superstar Drake was photographed in New York wearing a vintage Molson Canadian jersey.
While GQ‘s coverage focused on Drake’s furry boots, it was his blue mesh shirt that caught the eye of people on social media, who posted comments like “That jersey is [fire emoji]” and “Our mans rocking that Molson Canadian jersey u got free out of the 24.”
“The comments on it were ‘Oh, I love old beer case merch,” said Molson’s senior brand manager, Sophia Lal. “It was such a nostalgic piece for consumers.” That sparked an idea, and Molson and Rethink quickly went to eBay to buy as many of the old jerseys as they could find.
“At one point I think we were bidding against each other,” said Lal. “We said ‘We don’t even know what we’re going to do with them just yet, but we’re going to do something fun.'” They ended up acquiring three of the jerseys, which were then placed in specially marked cases of Canadian in self-serve stores in Toronto, Scarborough and Brampton, with social media and influencers providing clues as to where they might be found.
A label inside the Canadian jerseys featuring the iconic “I Am Canadian” slogan dates them to about 2004. “We think they’re from around then, but we’re not 100 per cent certain,” said Lal.
“It’s kind of a fun piece of history, but we’re not sure how old it is, or even how many [jerseys] there are in the world.” Lal said that a typical case giveaway for a major brand like Canadian or Coors Light might number in the tens of thousands.
It’s unlikely that Molson would have seized on an idea like this even a decade ago, she said. But the giveaway is just the latest example of the quick-twitch marketing that has become commonplace in the social media era. “From the day that we started buying jerseys, to the day [the campaign] was in market was about two weeks,” said Lal. “Everything was agile and fun, but when your brand pops out in the real world, you have to take advantage of that moment and give consumers what they’re asking for.
“That kind of cultural relevance isn’t something you can manufacture in a boardroom.”
The giveaway also fits with Molson’s “Everyone In” positioning, which was introduced earlier this year with a specific objective of growing its appeal among younger drinkers. “We’re trying to lean in where our consumers are and give them what they’re looking for as a brand that’s culturally relevant in 2023,” said Lal.
The people who participated in the giveaway, she said, were younger than the brand’s core consumer. “It was a really fun way to bring younger drinkers into the brand, and have them engage with us on social media and out in the world.” All three jerseys have now been claimed, said Lal, the last by a “young Gen Z wearing some Crocs.”