IQ News: Brown-Forman Whiskey Builds Online Mist-ique

Brown-Forman’s Canadian Mist Whiskey is ramping up its online promotional efforts with a comedy challenge that will be hosted on its Web site starting later this month. The contest, called the “Canadian Mist Comedy Challenge,” will be the online component of what has been a successful offline sponsorship for the brand. Beginning Oct. 28, visitors to can download comedy skits of nine performers and vote on their favorite. The top vote-getter earns a trip to the Comedy Challenge Finals, which will be held in Chicago on Nov. 15.
The comedy challenge was first conceived as a street-level promotion designed to appeal to urban markets. By adding an online component, said Bob Hausladen, vice president and marketing director for Canadian Mist, the brand may be able to attract a more diverse, younger crowd. Canadian Mist tends to be more popular with the 40-plus market.
Canadian Mist has no plans to promote the comedy challenge with an online media buy. But, according to Hausladen, in 1998 the brand has budgeted a 42 percent hike in media spending with a sizable, yet unspecified, chunk going to the Net.
Similar to other alcohol sites, Canadian Mist requires visitors to register online to prove they are of legal drinking age. In the process, Brown-Forman has accumulated a database of more than 2,000 names. The company will notify its most loyal visitors about the contest the week the skits go live, said Scott Sager, account executive on Canadian Mist for Sager-Bell,which is the interactive unit of Louisville, Ky.-based ad agency Creative Alliance.
The contest expands the brand’s online efforts. In August, Canadian Mist entered into a sponsorship on music site N2K.
Even before an industrywide, self-imposed blackout in advertising in electronic media was lifted two years ago, spirits brands such as Southern Comfort, Jose Cuervo and Captain Morgan began building interactive budgets dedicated to elaborate sites. Those sites have since evolved into online brand promotion.