Meet Joe Stiff

Meet Joe Stiff.

Meet Joe Stiff.

Joe Stiff Spiked Root Beer had been enjoying a pretty successful run in the Alberta and BC markets. Then some exciting news broke: Spiked was expecting an addition to the family. An Orange Cooler was set to start bottling, and the new kid needed a name.

What’s in a name? Well if your first brainchild is dubbed ‘Spiked Root Beer,’ you know his sibling needed to be equally as cheeky. And so a partnership was formed with Tara Hunt of Rogue Strategies to work with the Bear Brewery internal marketing team in an extensive naming exercise, which included an evolution of the brand identity, and designing a shiny new package.

The new kid on the block was introduced: Joe Stiff’s Whipped Orange – those are some bad, bad oranges... And since we couldn’t let one have all the fun, a package redesign was also done for Spiked Root Beer too.

Quite the good looking family.

Who's that Joe?

Who's that Joe?

With two cooler cocktail products bottling, Joe knew that it was time to move some serious product. First stop: the big TO. But, no matter how cool your product is, one can’t just walk into an Ontario Liquor Board store and say ‘Here’s my product, let’s get some on your shelves.’ You’ve got to prove yourself first, by selling a set number of cases to local bars.

If the devil is in the details, then the Stiff was in the execution. In order to dominate the social scene, there needed to be a good plan of attack, one that called for a little marketing uncommon. How to simultaneously introduce your product in bars and pubs, then liquor stores, while presenting a common value proposition? Or more accurately - in Joe terms - just be cool on the scene?

So Joe’s marketing peeps locked ourselves into a room for days, to plot Joe’s launch into the Toronto scene. From those sessions, came a grass-roots movement which would be executed in top Urban Bars and Karaoke joints, first in Toronto and then across Canada. With a rallying call for all the cool cats to get out their finest vintage threads, the Joe Stiff-sponsored scene would become ‘the’ places to be seen.

A not-so-average Joe walks into a bar.

A not-so-average Joe walks into a bar.

Before Facebook, the social scene was on location, not online. The best way to reach potential customers was to actually show up where they were.

Joe’s Crew was ready to hit the streets: Modettes and a charismatic host – actually a group of well-trained improv actors – were a bunch of crazy fun-loving kids who threw the hippest retro dance parties in town. Playing funked-up tunes from the 60s, 70s and 80s, teaching dance moves and giving out samples of Joe’s special brew, the Crew spread the good story of Joe Stiff, the coolest cocktail this side of Cuba. A spin-off event, Kickin Karaoke, was launched, with a rock n roll and disco-funk playlist that was 100% vanilla-free.

The result? On-location sales of Joe Stiff were over double the quantities required for consideration of Liqueur Boards across Ontario.

Joe Stiff-sponsored Retro Nights and Kickin Karaoke were in such high demand across Ontario that the concept was launched in the Prairie provinces.

A cross-Canada contest was developed, using both retail ballots and online registration, giving away 8 impeccably restored and decaled-out

Joe hits the streets.

Before men went mad, they were Stiff - and a few of their favorite girls came along for the ride. Themed the “Decades of Decadence” the award-winning advertising poster campaign created for Joe Stiff’s captured an idealized time, when life was simpler and a heck of a lot more fun. Through soda-pop tinted lenses, the posters offered an escape from the hum-drum contemporary world, with stylized characters who lounged, loved and thought really deep thoughts, all in anticipation of their refreshing sips of Spiked Root Beer.

Shot on a very tight budget, in creatively sourced locations, the finished posters were put up in bars, on community boards and in liqueur stores across Ontario, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

High marks were won from Applied Arts Magazine, capturing Best Poster Single and Best Poster Series awards. But a more impressive honour was that we couldn’t keep these posters on the walls. They sold a lot of Root Beer, but the truest measure of their success: posters were constantly stolen within a day

A whole new world.

A whole new world.

10 short years ago the web was a very different place. Friendster and MySpace had just started up. There was no YouTube, Twitter or Facebook, and SimCity still had to be bought in a box and downloaded to your computer.

Communicating online was reserved for email and chat rooms, where people were still enchanted by the opportunity to exchange words with like- minded individuals from across the world.

Joe’s offline presence was so engaging, that the website demanded to follow suit. It needed to promise escapism, to be truly different from other sites, and deliver something radical for its time. Something that captured the club experience, and brought it right to your computer. And so, Joe got his own World.

Imagine a virtual, retro-themed street where you could choose your own funky character, pick your hangout, chill and chat with other Joe Stiff-drinking party-goers. Dance and chat, either on the floor or a private visit to the Booth-o-Luvvv for your very own online rendez-vous. Unlock secret passages, and enter to win real-world prizes like a Vintage Vespa.

Totally revolutionary for its time, Joe Stiff’s World captured the essence of retro-cool that Joe Stiff was all about. And it took home an award at 2005 Marketing Magazine’s Interactive Design awards, taking second place in its category to Nike. Not bad company.

Makes Facebook feel just a little flat, doesn’t it?