Labatt Reshot Its Entire Summer Campaign Mid-Lockdown Without a Budget

Canadian beer brand shows consumers the way to fake the lake

a man pretending to wakeboard in his garage
Burns Group
Headshot of Kathryn Lundstrom

Memorial Day Weekend means a lot of things to a lot of people, but for those in the Great Lakes region, it means one thing: lake time. And beer.

For Canadian beer brand Labatt Brewing Company, a smaller brand that’s most popular around those big, cold bodies of water, its summer marketing campaigns have been invoking life at the lake for years. But like everything else, that’s going to look different this year.

On March 13, the same day that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, Labatt’s creative agency Burns Group and production company Droptree Productions had just wrapped up a shoot for a summer ad campaign and were headed back home.

In a matter of days, it became clear that all the party-themed footage they’d shot was suddenly inappropriate for the new reality, something countless brands and marketing teams had to grapple with when the pandemic hit.

“We got home, and there was no more party,” said Burns Group executive creative director Sam Arcade.”We knew that we couldn’t show these spots of people literally doing the opposite of social distancing.”

Unlike some of the bigger brands that were pulling off expensive pivots on a short time frame, the Labatt team didn’t really have any money left. Budget constraints meant they couldn’t just redo the shoots. But given what an important season summer is for the beer brand, Arcade said they knew they had to do something.

“We couldn’t just not acknowledge what was happening in the world and stay relevant to our target,” she said.

The team was inspired by the creative ways people were coming up with to have fun inside their homes, like creating new sports or “kayaking” in their front yards, but they didn’t really want to jump on the user-generated content (UGC) bandwagon.

“We knew we wanted to bring the lake to our fans,” said Labatt USA brand manager Jaime Polisoto.

They wanted to do that in a way that was both relevant to what we’re all going through, Polisoto continued, while still inhabiting the light-hearted, fun nature of a beer brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously. So they came up with a plan for Droptree directors Connor Martin and Matt Miadich to shoot—and star in—new UGC-inspired spots as part of its latest “Fake It Till You Lake It” campaign that invoke lake life without leaving the house.

Using a bunch of stuff they already had in their homes, Martin and Miadich found ways to simulate different water sports. Martin went “wakeboarding” in his garage on a running machine and skateboard with a projector in the background and his wife squirting at him with a water bottle. Miadich got his sister to use a pressure washer on him while he bounced around on a tube on top of a trampoline—voila, tubing from home!

Burns Group

In two other short spots, Miadich roasts a marshmallow over a candle in his living room and sips a beer from a kayak while sitting in a kiddie pool.

In a perfectly pandemic-appropriate touch, Martin also happens to have a massive shelf full of toilet paper in the garage next to his wakeboarding setup, which he falls into at the end of the spot. (Martin’s not a toilet paper hoarder, though, according to Arcade. He claims he had it all before the pandemic for a shoot where he was to be wrapped up in like a mummy.)

The spots all feature a “We’re gonna fake it till we lake it” jingle that feels like the best possible outlook on a socially distant summer.

Burns Group


@klundster kathryn.lundstrom@adweek.com Kathryn Lundstrom is Adweek's breaking news reporter based in Austin.
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