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With Olympics, Molson Plays up Canadian Roots Again

Can Even National Pride Push Struggling Beer Brand Past Bud ... at Home?

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CHICAGO ( -- Can Olympics-inspired nationalism stem the long decline of Molson Canadian?

The iconic Canadian beer has been beating the national-pride drum for years with little impact (one prior tagline: "I am Canadian."). The brand's sales have fallen for decades, and the two best-selling beers in Canada these days hail from south of the border: Budweiser and Coors Light.

But a new campaign, from MDC Partners' Zig, is betting that if there's ever a time to appeal to national pride to sell something, it's when the Olympics are on your home turf.

The Toronto agency's new campaign for Molson -- "Made from Canada" -- plays up Canada as the "best backyard in the world," with "more square feet of awesomeness per person than any other nation on Earth." Molson Canadian, says the first spot, "comes from the same land we let loose on." The effort is accompanied by a package redesign that, not surprisingly, makes the red Maple leaf bigger.

Subtle it's not, but the marketer is betting this effort will succeed where its predecessors fell short.

"What's different is that this puts the beer at the center of the equation," said Dave Bigioni, brand director for Molson Canadian. "It's about celebrating the abundance of natural resources that shapes both the people and the beer." (Hence the "made from" in the tagline.)

And then there's the timing. When mogul skier Alex Bilodeau became the first Canadian to win a gold medal on Canadian soil -- the country was shut out of first-place finishes when it hosted two prior Olympics -- the medal ceremony was an ecstatic, standing-room-only affair attended by 22,000.

"We felt like there was no better time to re-engage Canadians than when the country was galvanized and feeling a sense of connection," he said.

To further capitalize on that, the brand last week introduced a Facebook app that lets its fans create custom Canadian hockey jerseys to use as their online avatars. The effort had drawn more than 13,300 fans as of Tuesday afternoon.

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