Posted by Emma Cofer on November 8, 2010 02:00 PM
Canadian Club whisky, or “C.C.” in common parlance, long ago hit skid row. Once a top-shelf liquor choice but long since fallen on hard times, the brand is refreshing its image by turning back the clock. As a major marketing partner of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire, C.C. is claiming a piece of the show’s Prohibition-era glamour for itself.
On the show, Canadian Club is the imported liquor of choice, generously product-placed (and heartily imbibed) in the sordid but dazzling crime world of Atlantic City in the early ‘20s. But the deal doesn’t just play out onscreen. You may have noticed real-world liquor stores and wine shops decked out with signage for the show, and several major cities have hosted speakeasy-themed special events to tout the partnership of Boardwalk Empire and C.C.
There’s no doubt that the lure of the forbidden adds a spark to any experience. This is part of the magic of the Prohibition-era setting, when alcohol was sipped surreptitiously. Like many a taboo, this association could add a shot of sparkle to the C.C. brand. Chase it down with the sexy sepia glow of nostalgia for added luster. Now considered a well whiskey rather than a gentleman’s choice, C.C was both more popular and a classier selection in the ’20s. By associating today’s C.C. with the brand’s glory days, it could climb back towards the top.
Some critics have expressed concern that the co-branding amounts to an erosion of the alcohol advertising ban in place in the U.S., which allows alcohol and spirits advertising only in venues where 70 percent of the audience is above legal drinking age. The formula worked out by the spirits industry and the Federal Trade Commission seems archaic in a world where media is more omnipresent and multi-channeled than the simpler days of T.V., print and radio that gave rise to the policy.
C.C. is also featured, to a lesser extent, on the hit AMC show Mad Men. It’s Don Draper’s drink of choice, and that character has a famously unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Should we worry that C.C. will be associated with excessive and irresponsible liquor consumption in that context, too?
Notwithstanding these concerns, this is a no-brainer for C.C. Period shows are in, and the liquor that’s lifted in the highball glasses of Don Draper and Boardwalk Empire’s gangsters, politicos and dames can lay claim to some serious saloon cred. And if everyone drinks a bit too much, and if it’s not quite to the letter of the law—well, a little outlaw aura never hurt a brand, did it?