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(June 15, 2001) TORONTO -- Labatt's Blue Light has appointed itself the official beer of free time in the latest push for the brand, which includes a petition asking the provincial government to create a new holiday this month.

though Blue Light's "Free Your Time" campaign will continue through the rest of the year, the focus now is on today's "Freeday" holiday that the brand has designated with TV spots, event marketing and media relations.

Labatt argues there's a "free time crisis," citing commissioned research that found half of Canadians feel they don't have enough free time. Roughly 80% of Canadians surveyed apparently said they would like another public holiday during the summer.

"We believe we can use this theme for some years to come," said Blue Light Brand Manager Steve Silverstone, pointing to higher-than-expected consumer interest in the brand-sponsored petition for a new holiday.

"Our research says it's a hot button," he said. "We'll keep that focus as long as Canadians tell us they don't have enough" free time.

Six, 30-second TV spots back the Free Your Time effort, which runs primarily in Ontario, where Blue Light is a top 10 brand. No budget details were released.

Creative is from Labatt agency Ammirati Puris, while Weber Shandwick Worldwide has media relations. Both shops are in Toronto.

In Blue Light's "Castaway" spot a hapless fellow is marooned on a tropical beach, where he has plenty of time on his hands. He's soon seen with a long beard and ragged loincloth.

"Most people don't have this much free time, so Blue Light is giving it away," says the voice-over, which gives details of the brand's contest to win a trip for four to a private tropical island. Just then a helicopter lands on the castaway's beach, where an attractive foursome disembarks for some fun in the sun.

As the fellow is about to jump into the aircraft, he reconsiders and joins the newly arrived beach party. "As for the island, you may never want to leave," says the announcer.

Another spot, "Scientific," opens with a trio ready to enjoy some Blue Light while they should be at work. "We made clones," one of them explains as the scene shifts to a deathly dull meeting in a stuffy corporate boardroom. All is not well with the duplicates, though, who gurgle and malfunction, toppling face-down on to their meeting agendas.

Two other spots lament that there's no holiday in June and decry the mere 10 days of paid holidays that the average Canadian enjoys, far less than the five or more weeks given to workers in parts of Europe and Scandinavia. The spots urges viewers to go online (at and sign the petition for a new holiday.

In all, more than 120,000 Ontario residents have added their names to the initiative, which Blue Light said isn't a marketing ploy or publicity stunt.

"The program's strength is in its legitimacy," said Mr. Silverstone, who noted the petition was recently submitted to the provincial government for consideration. --Stephen Barrington

Copyright June 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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