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Heavy metal band Metallica usually doesn't play Tuktoyaktuk, a Northwest Territories outpost where the Arctic Ocean laps at the frozen Canadian shore. The town also isn't a hotbed of strategic beer marketing.

For one weekend at the end of last summer, it became both through Bruce Winterton's cool-icy, even-beer sweepstakes promotion.

Mr. Winterton, brand manager of Miller Brewing Co.'s Molson Ice, wanted to reach beer-drinking rock fans between ages 21 and 27 and to reinforce the brand's theme, "From the land where ice was born."

The result: the Molson Ice Polar Beach Party, an intimate yet ear-splitting rock festival.

The 35-year-old Mr. Winterton arranged the promotion with Molson Breweries of Canada and Encore Encore Strategic Marketing, Toronto.

"I asked, `How far north can you take us for a concert promotion?'*" he says. "They looked at a map and found Tuktoyaktuk."

Only 200 consumers-100 each from Canada and the U.S.-won trips to see the show, also featuring rock bands Hole, Veruca Salt and Moist.

But with print, radio and TV support intriguing beer-drinking rock fans in June and July of 1995, more than 500,000 entries were received.

"The Polar Beach Party became Molson Ice's centerpoint-it gave people something to talk about," Mr. Winterton says.

Miller and Molson awarded free flights to Calgary to the winners, then flew them north to Inuvik, 150 miles from the concert "at the end of the highway," Mr. Winterton says. The winners arrived in Tuktoyaktuk the next day, and with the town's residents, rubbed noses with the performers before the show.

"It was incredibly loud," laughs the still-impressed Mr. Winterton.

"Months after the event, Molson Ice awareness among the target was still pretty high." Even in December, a "significant number" of consumers surveyed could still name the bands that performed-and, more startlingly, the hard-to-pronounce town that hosted the Molson Ice Polar Beach Party.

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