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Molson Coors expands Mad Jack portfolio

Central Station campaign includes OOH, TV and online video

Molson Coors Canada has increased its presence in the fast-growing flavoured beer category with two new additions to its one-year-old Mad Jack product line.

Launched in 2015 with Mad Jack Premium Apple Lager, the brand’s portfolio has been expanded with the introduction of Mad Jack Premium Hard Root Beer and Mad Jack Ginger Flavoured Lager.

Molson Coors Brewing president and CEO Mark Hunter told analysts during the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report earlier this year that the brewer planned to add new variants to its “rapidly growing” Mad Jack and cider products lines, noting that they have been exceeding growth expectations since their introduction.

Asked by an analyst if last year’s $350 million purchase of Canadian rights for the Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Okanagan Cider brands by Molson Coors rival Labatt Breweries would change the competitive dynamics in the category, Molson Coors Canada CEO Stewart Glendinning said the company is “pushing hard” with Mad Jack. “We think we’re well on to compete in that market space,” he told analysts.

The new flavour launches are being supported by a pair of 15-second video spots (one for each new flavour), along with search and social and an extensive out-of-home campaign.

The out-of-home component includes street column posters in Montreal, digital billboards in Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver, and a series of 10-foot by 20-foot billboards across the country that will feature messages specific to a particular market.

Molson Coors is also erecting a giant 3D can of Mad Jack alongside Toronto’s Gardiner Expressway, taking over a space that featured a giant Coors Light can for several years.

The marketing campaign was developed by Toronto agency Central Station, a Day 1 partner of the Mad Jack brand that worked with the Molson Coors brand team to create both the packaging and can design, as well as its “Crazy good” brand positioning. Central Station also worked with Molson Coors to create the Mad Jack Crazy Good Mixer pack, featuring all three flavours.

The campaign objective is to continue to establish Mad Jack as a different type of beer, said Brad Monk, partner creative director at Central Station. “We want Mad Jack to come across as very unique, [but] doesn’t not sound like a beer,” said Monk. “We don’t want people to think it’s a cooler…but it needs to come across as a little bit more interesting, and appeal to men and women.”

One billboard shows all three Mad Jack flavours accompanied by the message “Suddenly it’s a ménage a trois,” while another reads “Introducing the root beer, beer (It’s really good, good).”

The Mad Jack extensions come amid declining sales for domestic and imported beer, as millennial consumers migrate to craft beers as well as wine and spirits.

“A very big thing in beer now is interesting tastes and bringing people who don’t consider themselves beer drinkers into the beer world,” said Monk. “It’s definitely where the millennials’ hearts and tastes are.”

While the Mad Jack brand is sold only at The Beer Store, and is “firmly planted” in the beer world, it is part of what Monk called a “new generation” of beers. “It’s not just talking about hops and barley, it’s about interesting flavours,” he said.

Beer sales increased a modest 3.1% to $9 billion in fiscal 2015 according to the most recent information from Statistics Canada, although its share of the total alcohol market has slipped from 47.9% in 2005-06 to 42% in 2014-15.

The bright spot for the industry has been ciders, coolers and other refreshment beverages, with sales increasing 9.2% to $800 million in fiscal 2015. Liquor stores, agencies and retail outlets sold 138 million litres of these beverages in 2014-15, an 8.9% increase from the previous year.

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