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Moosehead paddles a cracked canoe

Moosehead Breweries launched its latest beer today, a light beer aimed at a more mature audience. Whats this got to do with sports? Everything.
The interconnection of sport, beer and gender is a holy trinity of contemporary popular life and as such a marketers dream say the editors of (what else) Sport, Beer, and Gender, a book published earlier this year. Indeed, sport is a major driver of the beer marketplace and most of the beer advertising is aimed at men. About 60% of the US$1 billion spent on alcohol advertising in the United States supports sports programming.
On this side of the border, Saint John, N.B.-based Moosehead has a long history of supporting sports at both the professional and amateur levels. It is currently the NBAs official beer partner in Canada and the title sponsor of an NBA fantasy game and also sponsors a team in the Nova Scotia Senior League called the Dartmouth Moosehead Dry, which will host this years Canadian Senior Baseball Championship.
Now, I dont know what you think about Mooseheads other offerings (and it boasts about 10 beers in its line-up, although some are only available in the east), but Cracked Canoe is a light beer whose chief enticement seems to be that it has less than 100 calories per bottle or can. No surprise, then, that it checks in at just 3.5% alcohol. If you like light beer, Cracked Canoe is an easy switch.
But Moosehead is also going after a more mature, upscale audience, both men and women, particularly those who are health conscious. No wonder it decided to launch Cracked Canoe at Canoe, a particularly swanky restaurant that overlooks Torontos business district and the lake. Matt Johnston, Mooseheads vice-president of marketing for North America, describes the beverages appeal as one of approachable sophistication. A television and print campaign called An Ode to Slow certainly drives home that message, featuring two lingering romantic-type scenes sandwiched around a baseball pitcher throwing a knuckleball in slow motion.
While such soft-ball marketing would seem to shut out the high-testosterone crowd, Moosehead president Derek Oland says sports is still a key part of Mooseheads strategy even as it seeks a higher clientele. So many beer-drinking occasions are associated with sports, after a golf game, after a workout or after a racquetball game, he says. But the reality is that you probably have to move on to something else, like go back home, or back to work, or something along those lines.
Thats where a light beer like Cracked Canoe comes in, says Oland. Drinking a couple of these certainly wont make you feel light-headed or heavy, and advising people to slow down fits in with the idea that Moosehead takes its time making its products. The knuckleballer is one of the images we used because theres such a great connection between the throwing of a knuckleball and what we think is the skill involved in producing this great beer, says Oland.
Youll get a chance to see the ad if youre watching the NBA playoffs on TSN or Score, which is part of the media buy Moosehead has in its deal with the league. Ironically, the largest Canadian-owned brewer doesnt have a deal with the only NBA team, the Toronto Raptors. Then again, the Raptors didnt even come close to making the playoffs. That, too, may take some time.