I had a good run a couple of years ago getting hired to draw storyboards for an ad campaign for Labatt Blue, a Canadian Beer brand. They have a Bear character (just an actor in a bear suit) who is their Party Champion – a “Duff Man,” if you will- who shows up at opportune moments to take the party to the next level- and make it EPIC.
I think I’ve detailed before that I prefer commercials that don’t rely on dialogue or voiceover to convey the narrative- and so it is in these commercials that all the entertainment and message is contained the fun, active, silly visuals. In this campaign, I was called to draw sexy girls, sports, action, humor, nature, and of course, beer. It was very fun.
Spot 1 – “Wakeboard”
Here’s the first spot! For all the spots, we start on a great beer/branding lineup. Always good to have some clear branding, but it comes at a cost- it clearly shows the viewer that they are watching a commercial, which is often something we’re called to make less obvious- but owning it upfront and then making a spectacular entertaining spot immediately follow is also a great strategy- either way, your mission is to keep them watching for what happens next.
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which are lifted from frame to reveal an awesome wide shot of a beautiful blue lake, and sport boat with wakeboarder coming right at camera- after a series of tight shots of boating and boarding, we reveal the Bear in a frozen epic moment superimposed with the message “Get Undomesticated”. This is their slogan/call to action/mnemonic – a brand message to reinforce association and clarify intent- this beer is for wild and crazy Canadian party animals and the sexy girls who love them!
We see more shots of extreme wakeboarding skills, and some party shots, and it’s on! Labatt Blue is the choice of the truly undomesticated. Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final spot!
Spot 2 – “Pond Hockey”
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, cold as ice, which are lifted from view and reveal a frozen pond- and a bizarre sight- a bear in hockey skates and stick doing perfect puck handling and closing in on us- it’s our Bear hero and the message is clear – Get Undomesticated. He crashes the pond hockey game and single-handedly schools the other players, deft skills outclassing these hopeful amateurs. He shoots, he scores, they celebrate! It’s a hot time on the cold pond tonight! Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final spot!
Spot 3 – “Dune Buggy”
We open tight on a lineup of the Labatt Blue beers, which wipe frame, revealing our dune buggy race- a sexy flag girl starts the race and they’re off! We have fun action shots, quick cuts of dune buggy racing action, and we catch a frozen moment glimpse of the absurd- the lead buggy is driven by our hero, the Labatt Bear. He wins the race, the crowd goes wild, and it’s a fun, sexy part to celebrate right after. Win! Here’s the boards:
And here’s the final commercial – or at least, it would have been here- I can’t find it online, and I’m not sure if it was even made, or made but never posted, or posted but then removed. Probably the latter.
Sometimes things get muddled after the fact – as an example, limitations on music licensing, or perhaps more likely, revised guidelines on advertising standards and practices, or perhaps most likely, maybe it was “tested” by a focus group of viewers, and tested poorly, for whatever reason, and thus was cut. It happens all the time, and it’s expected. I’m only speculating, but maybe it was a bit of a conceptual reach to go with the Baja Beach / Sand Dune scenario- its kind of a disconnect from where you would normally think a Canadian Bear would spend his free time. So, maybe someone had a concern that this spot wasn’t as relatable to the target demographic as the other spots were. Just a guess!
Thanks for reading! See you next time.