A Taste of Home
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Only a Canadian passport can unlock Molson beer’s Olympic fridge
Canada’s Molson beer, the oldest brewery in North America, is taking care of its own at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The brand worked with agency ReThink, Toronto to create the Passport Fridge, a refrigerator stocked with Molson that opens only when a Canadian passport is scanned. Canadian fans and athletes alike can scan their passport to open the fridge, which contains bottles of limited edition Molson Canadian Victory brew that is ‘proudly brewed to celebrate our Canadian Olympic athletes’.
The brand has been ‘all-Olympics, all-the-time’ on its Twitter page, broadcasting the results of events won by Canadians, sharing photos of Canadian Olympians grabbing brews from the Passport Fridge and generally stumping for all things Canada. The brand also took out a two-page ad in the Globe & Mail, juxtaposing quotes by Budweiser supporting both the US and Canada, asking ‘Hey Bud, which side are you on?’ Molson is trying to win some national loyalty points.
The passport fridge has ignited a media firestorm, attracting attention from nearly every press outlet covering the games. In fact, the fridge received so much attention that the Canadian actor Nathan Fillion talked about it, unprompted, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, suggesting some tweaks to the fridge’s security system. Molson gamely replied with blueprints for an updated machine.
‘The further you are away from the home the more Canadian you feel,’ Aaron Starkman, a partner and creative director at ReThink, told ABC News. ‘We wanted to just have an icon to remind people of Canada and to have a taste of home when they are so far away.’
This passport fridge isn’t new for these Olympic games – Molson first showcased it in the summer of 2012 with a cheeky YouTube video that followed the fridge across Europe during the London Games. But the brand has proven that the idea has legs, and its debut on the global stage in Sochi has clearly proven itself as a PR hit. It’s a bit stunty, of course, but it’s also fun. And since the brand had already built the machine, the bulk of the campaign was probably logistics-related in terms of figuring out how to get it to Russia.
Molson has leveraged its Canadian heritage as a selling point for decades, with the slogan ‘I Am Canadian’, spokesperson ‘Joe Canada’, and the tagline ‘Made from Canada’ all using the beermaker’s origin as a selling point. With nationalism running high during the Olympics, the brand seized an opportunity to amplify its message while delivering a perk to Canadians in Sochi, and turning the nations athletes into minor heroes just for being Canadian. The PR boost has been incredible – from ESPN to Perez Hilton – for very little expenditure. It just goes to show that a little free beer can go a long way.
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