The Crown Royal posting generated many emails and calls with additional comments, anecdotes and stories about the brand. I thought I would share a few.
They all amount to the same thing – the brand was built on creativity and consumer engagement with a large dose of cleverness.
Crown was one of the first brands to have outdoor ads that were “spectaculars,” defined as clever, out of the ordinary, with potentially strong stopping power. The most well known was an oversized, full dimensional bottle that filled an entire billboard. The caption on top of the bottle read “Not Actual Size.” On the bottom it read “Too Bad.”
To gild the lily a bit a local team in the south decided to add two mannequins rappelling down the board as though trying to get into the bottle. Shortly after they went up they were stolen. Rather than get upset or simply replace them, a full-page ad was run in the local papers with the headline “Who are the dummies that stole our dummies?” The ad went on to explain that, “why would you risk your life to steal a mannequin when there was a giant bottle on the same billboard?” The result was great PR for the brand.
For many years Crown sponsored rodeo finals in Las Vegas until the cost of sponsorship became much too high. The event, with signage all over the arena, went to Jack Daniel’s. Not to be outdone, Reichardt and company decided that they were going to invest the cost of sponsorship they had been paying into ads and promotional activity and surround the event. The result was that everywhere in Vegas that week – from airport signage to cab tops to billboards to bars – it was all about Crown not Jack. All at a fraction of what the event would have cost.
Finally, at one time Crown had trouble getting traction in California and the pressure was on. Cleverly, some local sales managers decided that moving product with just an attractive price to the trade was limiting. So instead they focused on a large Korean store, which resulted in massive window displays that came to the attention of Korean bottle club owners. They liked the package and price and started buying for their clubs. Next thing you know, Crown Royal is the number one item in Korean bottle clubs.
Moral of the stories… creativity and cleverness are byproducts of having fun with a brand and thinking outside the box.