The Bear Truth at Battle of the Brands

By Ms Published on .

Last month, the branded entertainment conference sponsored by Ad Age's Madison + Vine online newsletter saw the first annual Battle of the Brands, at the Beverly Hills Hotel, which featured a surprise winner. Cole & Weber/Red Cell, Seattle, whose campaign for Rainier Beer was up against the likes of Sega's "Beta 7," ESPN-Miller Lite's "The Squeeze" and Burger King's particularly notorious "Subservient Chicken." Nevertheless, Cole & Weber brought down the house with a documentary about the Rainier campaign and an impromptu appearance by the Rainier Bear during a 20-minute presentation. Along with the story of how the agency launched a television show to help people remember the brand and its vintage ads, the documentary also included the fortuitous turn of marketing events that unfolded after a black bear drank a case of the brew, which led to the brand's first new spots in 25 years. After the film, ECD Guy Seese-who admits that initially "we didn't think that we had a snowball's chance in hell of winning"-introduced Ranger Hardfelt, a character from the TV show, played at the conference by copywriter Jim Elliott, saying, "You entertainment people have heard it before. You take a fresh face and shine a light on him, and that fresh face changes the game, but the game also changes him." Cue the Rainier Bear, the star of the recent spots, played by copywriter Mike Tuton in a shabby bear suit. "The bear had some bling on and a pimp chalice," Seese recalls. "The music was playing and the lights were flashing, and then he walks out into the audience. I think that won it."
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