After six years, Kokanee kills the Ranger

Four months after his life was put in the hands of online voters, the Kokanee Ranger has met his end under a bus, ending a long-running ad campaign for Labatt Breweries’ Kokanee beer. In a two-and-a-half minute ad that aired only during Global’s British Columbia broadcast of Family Guy on Sunday, the Ranger, wary that […]

Four months after his life was put in the hands of online voters, the Kokanee Ranger has met his end under a bus, ending a long-running ad campaign for Labatt Breweries’ Kokanee beer.

In a two-and-a-half minute ad that aired only during Global’s British Columbia broadcast of Family Guy on Sunday, the Ranger, wary that “Kokanee headquarters” wants to “kill him off,” meets various characters from his ad campaign at a diner. The setup is noticeably similar to the final episode of HBO’s The Sopranos.

After playing a song on a tabletop jukebox, the Ranger sees several shady characters enter the diner. During a conversation with Arnold, his sidekick, the scene cuts to black. However, unlike The Sopranos’ abrupt and ambivalent ending, the ad plays the blackout as a gag—the power went out in the restaurant. When the lights come back on, the Ranger, glad to still be alive, leaves the diner and is run over by a bus.

The ad, which was meant to air just once, marked the end of the four-month “Live or Die” campaign, during which people were invited to go to RangerLiveOrDie.ca to vote on whether Kokanee should keep its spokesman or replace him. Over 430,000 Canadians cast their ballot.

In the closing days of the campaign, the vote tallies were so close that two endings were filmed for the final ad, with the winner ad slotted in at the last minute, said Rich Fortin, national marketing manager for the Kokanee brand.

“We had a couple of internal objectives in terms of how many people we’d get coming to the site and how many people would vote, and we blew them away,” Fortin said. “It totally exceeded our expectations.”

The Ranger campaign was created in 2002 by Toronto agency Grip Ltd., which also did the final ad.

Fortin said he was happy with the campaign’s entire six-year run, but saw “Live or Die” as an opportunity to interact with customers in a way the brand had not done previously.

“This was our chance at a big idea that could play out over a bunch of platforms—a fully integrated program across media, on-premise, retail and PR. It’s not every day you get one of those ideas,” he said.

The final Ranger ad can be viewed at RangerLiveOrDie.ca, and on YouTube. Fortin would not provide details on the next phase of Kokanee’s advertising.

Brands Articles

DDB Canada is a good fit for Nordstrom’s shoe campaign

Agency's Calgary campaign impressed the U.S. marketers

Ethnic insights at the heart of a total market strategy

Asking 'which cultural group should I target?' may put you on the wrong path

Pringles plays off Ontario elections

The brand forces its own issue onto the ballot: to dip, or not to dip?

Second Cup launches Flat White promotion

New espresso drink part of brand rejuvenation

Mountain Equipment Co-op launches MEC Outdoor Nation

Retailer aims to inspire youth to get outside

McDonald’s Canada takes on grocery

Partners with Kraft Canada to launch McCafe brand in supermarkets

The results of Apple’s free U2 download experiment

Company gets its "record breaking" headline, but many users rebel

Scion Sessions return with more short-film-styled music vids

Toyota brand bolsters connection with music, art and culture

Ford Canada wins the TIFF celebrity lottery

How the automaker maximized its TIFF sponsorship with A-listers