Canadian Club chases women

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In an effort to jazz up its dusty portfolio, Allied Domecq Spirits USA is testing a Canadian Club campaign designed to appeal to younger men as well as women.

At first blush, the effort-themed "Can You Handle a Whisky Drinking Woman?"-appears to be aimed at men. But Allied Domecq said the ads appeal to both sexes.

Matt Wiant, VP-marketing, said the ads don't just target 35- to 55-year-old men but men a decade younger-and women, too. "We're suggesting that there are women out there who drink whiskey, who are very interesting and challenging and so forth and are women that men want to meet," he said.

This marks the brand's biggest push since the early 1970s. Spending for the three-month outdoor and radio test campaign in Hartford, Conn., Tampa, Fla. and Milwaukee is believed to be in the $1 million range; if successful, the effort should go national by the holidays. Spending could exceed $5 million.

The country's No. 7 spirits company said it wants to shift whiskey's redneck, I-drink-alone image to one that appeals to the hip, social crowd. Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York, is the agency.

The strategy of Canadian Club, Allied's No. 2 super-premium brand after Kahlua, is consistent with its revival of brands such as the Mexican liqueur, Beefeater, Sauza and Courvoisier. "[Prior to the 1970s,] Canadian Club had a premium cachet ... then we stopped advertising," Mr. Wiant said.

With a 10% share in the U.S., Canadian Club is the second most popular Canadian whiskey after Seagram America's Crown Royal, which commands 16% of the market.

Canadian Club received $24,900 in measured media the first nine months of last year, compared with nothing in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting. CMR said 1994 was the last time the brand received more than $1 million.

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