Iconic SCTV character duo Bob & Doug McKenzie have resurfaced to support a new national Beer Canada campaign urging Ottawa to freeze the federal tax on beer.
Beer Canada, the national voice of Canadian brewers and beer consumers, has been lobbying against a planned April 1 federal tax increase of 6.3%. After fighting the move via traditional channels and feeling like they needed to make more headway, Beer Canada President CJ Hélie says they started brainstorming about how to take the conversation to another level.
“We were thinking who could best do that…if we had anyone in the world who could talk to beer consumers about beer, who would that be? Someone like Bob & Doug, but never thinking we’d get them,” Hélie told Broadcast Dialogue.
The fictional Canadian brothers, played by Dave Thomas (Doug) and Rick Moranis (Bob), rose to fame in the 1980s as the hosts of SCTV sketch “Great White North” that played up Canadian stereotypes. Usually accompanied by cases of Molson Canadian on set, served up in the stubby bottles of the era, their pop culture status culminated in 1983 feature film Strange Brew, resting on the premise of the brothers squandering their father’s beer money, forcing them to get jobs at the Elsinore brewery where they uncover a sinister plot.
While Thomas and Moranis now rarely appear as the characters (one of the last was a 2017 Spinal Cord Injury Ontario benefit at Second City Toronto), Beer Canada reached out to Thomas’ agent. Hélie said they were surprised to get a phone call that same day from Moranis.
“He explained that they’ve invested a huge amount of time, effort, and sweat into creating their characters and defending their integrity 100%…but we told him exactly what our message was, the kind of colour we wanted around this…and very quickly they said they would love to do it,” said Hélie.
Among the creative team working on the campaign was veteran comedy writer and creative director Larry MacInnis. The campaign, which also includes print and digital media placements, is anchored by three 30-second radio spots, running coast-to-coast, in which Thomas and Moranis revive classic “Bob & Doug-isms” like “take off, eh” and signature call “Coo loo coo coo, coo coo coo coo,” a nod to the vintage Hinterland Who’s Who wildlife vignettes that aired on Canadian TV.
“The reason that radio is the anchor is because at the end of the day we want to hit two audiences – one is the traditional beer consumer, but we also wanted to make sure elected officials in Ottawa and staffers heard it – and understand the connection between what we had been talking to them about over the last six months in more traditional advocacy and this new campaign,” explained Hélie. “Given the demographics of that group, that’s why we hit radio as the principal vehicle. We are heavy in most of the English-language urban ridings.”
“We couldn’t have been happier with the collaboration,” added Hélie. “It’s kind of an unusual campaign for Beer Canada, but early reactions are very positive.”
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