Molson brings back ‘I Am Canadian’ for Canada Day

A travelling beer fridge brings Canadian back to iconic campaign

A travelling beer fridge brings Canadian back to iconic campaign

Ten years after it closed the book on its longstanding “I Am Canadian” campaign, Molson Canadian has brought the tagline out of retirement. On Friday, June 21, the brand released a new 90-second online spot, “The Beer Fridge,” on its Facebook page that ends with the classic tagline.

The spot is part of a nostalgia-filled campaign by Rethink that relaunches the “I Am Canadian” messaging in the lead up to Canada Day, one of the most vital marketing periods for the brand. A 30-second version of the ad is set to debut on Monday during game six of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Chris Blackburn, Molson Canadian’s senior marketing manager, said the brand is bringing the tagline back for a limited time only rather than as a long-term brand positioning.

“The plan is not to use it on an ongoing basis, but next year around Canada Day, who knows how that might play out,” he said.

The Beer Fridge

Over the course of one very rainy week in May, a team from Rethink and Molson Canadian lugged a red fridge with a white maple leaf decal across Europe.

With a camera team in tow, Blackburn and Rethink partner/creative director Aaron Starkman set up the fridge up in public spaces throughout the U.K., France and Belgium.

Then they waited as consumers tugged at the fridge door, cursing and scrunching up their faces in bewilderment as it failed to open. As the ad reveals, the fridge was specially designed by Artem, a London-based technology firm, to only open when a Canadian passport is scanned using a technology similar to that found in stand-up airport terminals.

Eventually, Canadians with the golden passport key arrived in each locations (Rethink made sure a Canadian was nearby in case no traveling Canucks showed up), unveiling a fridge full of Molson Canadian beer ready to serve.

Starkman said the concept for the spot came from the idea that national pride is often triggered when consumers venture away from their homes. “The further you are away from home, it seems, the more pride you feel. Especially when you’re reminded of something iconically Canadian,” he said. “The beer fridge is about generating that kind of feeling.”

A 30-second version of the spot will run nationally, excluding Quebec, until autumn. The media buy for the campaign was handled by MEC.

Molson Canadian is running the 90-second spot through paid pre-roll online in the 10 days leading up to Canada Day. A 30-second version will run on TV through September. Outside of this period, Blackburn said Molson Canadian will continue to use its current brand positioning, “Made From Canada,” which it introduced in 2010. (Most recently, the brand released a spot in February that showcased traveling Canadian partying around the world.)

Two platforms, one product

While both platforms tap into the Canadian identity, Blackburn says “Made From Canada” takes the product and its Canadian origins out into the world. “‘I Am Canadian’ was centred around a declaration of Canadian pride that captivated what it meant to be Canadian. It was very much about the individual, whereas ‘Made From Canada,’ centres on the product story. It’s about connecting this fantastic land of ours with a beer that’s born for it.”

After its debut in 1994, the “I Am Canadian” tagline inspired “The Rant,” a 2000 ad by Bensimon Byrne that debuted during the Oscars broadcast and became an instant classic. That ad inspired a patriotic fan culture amongst Molson drinkers that continues today, 13 years after it originally aired.

Blackburn said part of the reason the brand resurrected the campaign was the ongoing consumer demand for “I Am Canadian” merchandise. In response to the “constant stream” of requests, Molson invested more than $1 million in new branded swag, including four collectible T-shirts, temporary tattoos, sweaters, “Muskoka chairs” and red mugs shaped like boots that it started giving away through retail promotions earlier this month.

The brand also recently launched an online store to to sell the merchandise. Though Blackburn said the merchandise represents a revenue stream for the company (an I Am Canadian T-shirt runs for $24.99), he said the store’s purpose is more so to offer brand fans a chance to purchase the merchandise they’ve requested.

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