Peak Brew by Kokanee

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Labatt Breweries of Canada
Labatt Breweries of Canada

Agency Credits: Grip Limited
Grip Limited


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):February 2015 – April 2015
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: February 2015
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2014

a) Overall Assessment

Kokanee is a Western Canadian beer with a deep connection to the mountains it calls home. To this day, the brand is tied to the mountains by partnering with a number of ski resorts across the West and champions the best each mountain has to offer with those looking to enjoy a day on the slopes. 

Research confirms that love for the mountains is a shared passion and point of pride for all Western Canadians and, in particular, for males aged 19-29.

This connection to the mountains is central to the brand’s positioning. Recently Kokanee has come under attack by other brands as the category continues to evolve with new competitors and large national players, deliberately taking steps to own the mountains Kokanee calls home.   

To start with, consumers are more attracted to craft and value brands. This shift has grown the segment by 15% over the past three years, while the overall category has declined. Many of these brands are leveraging their hyper-local relevance and connection to the mountains in order to build affinity.

National players and new entrants like Coors Banquet are spending significant dollars to establish their Rocky Mountain roots. Banquet’s launch efforts have proven successful and they continue to grow on a monthly basis with a current share of 1.8% across the West.

Finally, Kokanee had not spent advertising dollars in the 12 months leading up to the campaign. Brand health and consideration scores were in decline. More importantly, Kokanee’s share was down 12% over that same period.   

b) Resulting Business Objectives

1) Stop the decline in market share

2) Increase consideration and health scores

3) Leverage Kokanee’s connection to the mountains in an unprecedented way

c) Annual Media Budget

d) Geographic Area
Western Canada (British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan)

a) Analysis and Insight

It wouldn’t be enough to offer an in-case promotion that provided freebies or a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience in the mountains. The brand needed to do more than just tell its consumers about its heritage and connection to the mountains - it needed to activate in an unprecedented way.

The mountains form the foundation of Kokanee’s history. Deep pride in the mountains is ubiquitous amongst all Western Canadians, extending beyond those who ride the freshest powdered slopes every weekend. They share an even deeper connection to the mountains situated closest to where they live.

In addition to connecting on an emotional level, mountains are often used as a symbol to evoke ‘refreshment’, a functional attribute that many brands often lean on within their advertising efforts and visual brand identities.  Millward Brown has ‘Refreshment’ ranked as the number two functional attribute consumers seek out when making a purchase. ‘Good Taste,’ sits at the top, while ‘Value for Money,’ ‘High Quality’ and ‘Is Flavoursome’ fall below ‘Refreshment.’

With this in mind, the brand needed to celebrate its pride for the mountains and find a way to deliver ultimate refreshment in an authentic, local and relevant way to win back the hearts of Kokanee drinkers.  Our goal was to give Kokanee drinkers a taste of what they are so passionate about every time they purchased a glacier-fresh Kokanee beer.   

b) Communication Strategy

To celebrate this pride for the mountains, Kokanee would scale seven mountains to collect snow from the peaks and infuse it into the most epic batch of Kokanee ever created.


The brew would be called ‘Peak Brew by Kokanee,’ a refreshing and unique convergence of beer and mountain enjoyment. The seven mountain partners include:  Whistler-Blackcomb, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Lake Louise, Marmot Basin and Nakiska.


To create the beer, we enlisted help from local legends with a strong connection to each mountain and documented their expedition to the peak as they collected the pristine snow. They were to take lead and tell the Peak Brew by Kokanee story across Kokanee’s social channels.

Each can offered a limited edition brew made with snow from one of the seven peaks. The can series included mountain imagery highlighting the exact peak and altitude where the snow was extracted. 


Understanding consumers have an even greater sense of pride for their local mountain, the brand distributed a higher percentage of cans that matched the area’s closest mountain. Geo-targeting videos and OOH messages also played a large role in establishing increased relevance and connection with our target on a local level. 

a) Media Used

Online Video



YouTube Search (SEM)

Packaging (Can and Case Artwork)

Point of Sale 

b) Creative Discussion

Peak Extraction:

The extraction process would build the foundation for telling the Peak Brew by Kokanee story and required a high level of creativity and logistical planning.

This process presented a number of challenges both during the expedition and brewing process.

Traditionally, the brewing process takes less than a month; however, adding snowmelt from each mountain required an additional five weeks for the water to be tested and approved for use.  Only the purest of water could be added to this special batch. 



Knowing the snow had to be of the highest of quality and evoke a sense of refreshment like no other, the extraction points had to be situated at the most remote, untouched corners of the mountain. To help find the perfect locations, we collaborated with Kokanee’s mountain partners and identified the perfect person for the job.  Those selected held a strong connection to the community and intimate knowledge of the mountain. Once the locations were determined, an extra layer of planning, safety measures, procedures and contingencies were put in place to ensure the extraction and documentation of the extraction was executed without error.

The complete series can be seen here:

The Campaign:

In launching the campaign, Kokanee created limited edition mountain packs that were sent to key influencers in the West to help drive earned media. The 7-can mountain packs included invitations to launch parties that were held at each mountain partner, a USB key with images from the extractions, a release with program details and videos for influencers to leverage as they saw fit. 


The first week of the campaign involved testing which content performed best. A number of creative variations were initially tested across Facebook and YouTube in order to determine top performing edits and optimize media spend accordingly.

The brand developed content that was aligned with how our target digests media across each platform. Full-length stories were created for YouTube, while shorter more digestible versions were created for Facebook and mobile platforms.

This test and learn approached, combined with creating formats based on platform best practices allowed us to maximize consumer engagement and significantly decrease our cost per view against industry benchmarks.

In major markets such as British Columbia, Calgary and Edmonton, the campaign was supported with outdoor creative that highlighted contextually relevant messages specific to the snow that was extracted from the closest mountain. 

Point of Sale at retail and in bar leveraged the can artwork and mountain peak visuals to break-through the clutter of the trade environment.  The Sasquatch hand was used to reinforce and support a narrative thread introduced in the first Kokanee advertising campaign.  



c) Media Discussion

The media spend was limited; with no access to broadcast, we needed to use digital media as a primary vehicle to tell the Peak Brew by Kokanee story.

YouTube and Facebook were the primary platforms used to reach our audience.  Facebook not only supported a greater reach at a low cost, but also allowed the brand to sync with each mountain partner’s networks to schedule and share the content with their communities, thereby extending the reach. True View and search were used on YouTube as a way to target those searching ski resorts, action sports and lifestyle (i.e après ski).

Local relevance was key to the success of the campaign. Understanding consumers have greater pride for their local mountain, we geo-targeted content matching the area’s closest mountain. Once our target viewed a video, retargeting efforts would serve another video they hadn’t been exposed to, allowing for a deeper level of storytelling.

Outdoor was used to support awareness and contextually communicate with our target prior to going, on their way, and at their favorite ski resort. The brand maximized spend by streamlining outdoor media partners to ensure bonusing and benefit from receiving extended life of messaging.  



a) Sales/Share Results

The campaign exceeded all expectations.  

The content itself performed above industry standards.  On average, video completion rates were 93.3% higher than category benchmarks. The content organically surpassed targeted views across social platforms by 1.5MM, decreasing the cost per view target by 75%. Considering the focus was Western Canada only, overachieving our view-based metrics by 1.5MM was a great achievement. 

Peak Brew by Kokanee was also picked up on Breakfast Television, CTV News Vancouver and Calgary, The Globe and Mail, The Vancouver Sun, The Province and a number of other regional radio and print publications. The result was over 8MM impressions.

More importantly, Kokanee stopped its rapid rate of decline and grew both health and share metrics during the promotion.  Consideration scores and ‘past 4 week’ grew by 8%. Given the pride locals have for their area mountain and matched with smart distribution planning, sales grew by 15% around the seven mountain communities. 

Overall, Peak Brew by Kokanee resulted in share growth across Western Canada by 1.9 share points and 2.8 share points in British Columbia. It’s important to note that during the promotional period, the segment declined by 2%.

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

The fundamental shift within the category played a leading role in the rapid decline of Kokanee’s performance.  Matching this shift with a SOV that comprises a fraction of larger players like Coors Light, Molson Canadian and Budweiser made meeting and exceeding our objectives a real challenge.  

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Media spend was limited to $350,000. Coors Banquet, Coors Light, Molson Canadian, Budweiser and British Columbia’s Carriboo all had greater media spend or promotional activity in retail. 


Kokanee increased it’s pricing by 5% on the 24-can SKU, 3.2% on the 15-can SKU and 2.5% on this 12-can SKU.  At the time Kokanee’s competitors had not adjusted their pricing.  

Distribution Changes:

Kokanee’s distribution had not changed; the brand was available across Western Canada.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

Promotional activity was consistent across the category. 

Other Potential Causes:

No other causes influenced the results of this campaign.