Canadian brews up a comeback

With a lift from its Olympic deal, Molson sees sales jump
The Canadian Press

After four stagnant years, Canadian is back. The beer, brewed by Denver- and Montreal-based Molson Coors, posted a surprising five per cent jump in sales in its first quarter over the same period last year, and its overall market share is on the rise. “Over the last few years we’ve wandered away from the roots of the brand,” says Dave Perkins, president and CEO of Molson Coors Canada. Now, he says, “we’ve rediscovered our roots.”

A big part of that is a return to the patriotic brand of ad it made famous 10 years ago with its “I am Canadian” rant. The new campaign, called “Made from Canada,” proclaims that Canada has “more square feet of awesomeness per person then any other nation on earth,” and features sweeping shots of mountains cut with scenes of shinny players and cheering, snow-covered crowds.

But, perhaps more importantly, Molson is enjoying a post-Olympic buzz, which it earned as the Games’ official beer sponsor. In Vancouver, it built the massive Molson Canadian Hockey House, where it grabbed attention with a constant stream of medal winners, celebrities and concerts by the likes of Bryan Adams and Sam Roberts. Even members of the Canadian women’s hockey team were photographed swilling Canadian on the ice after winning gold. “Beer is like hockey, it’s a central part of what we are,” says Perkins. “[The Games] brought us a lot of relevance.”

But the brewer isn’t quite ready to kick back and enjoy a cool one. Molson Coors has taken a hit on international markets, where sales are off 3.8 per cent. And in Canada, the beer still trails top-selling U.S. brands Budweiser and Coors Light. But Mark Swartzberg, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus, says Canadian is in a great position, and that, largely thanks to Vancouver, it will be in the hearts and hands of Canadians for a long time. “It’s been in decline for a while,” he says, but “the Olympics put it on a new trajectory.”