Kokanee beer

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Kokanee logo

Kokanee is a beer brewed at the Columbia Brewery in Creston, British Columbia. Columbia Brewery began brewing Kokanee lager in 1959 and was purchased by the Labatt Brewing Company in 1974.

Labatt Brewing is now part of the new company, Anheuser-Busch InBev SA/NV, which is trading as BUD on the New York Stock Exchange; (ABI:BB in Brussels.)

The beer[edit]

Kokanee Bottle

Kokanee is a Pilsner style lager with 5.0% alcohol. Kokanee beer is aged naturally and has a relatively mild taste. It is most commonly found in the Western provinces of Canada and the Pacific Northwest states of the US, with sparse distribution in Eastern provinces and states. The Columbia Brewery also brews Kokanee Gold, with a fuller body and 5.3% alcohol content, Kokanee Light, and Kootenay True Ale.


The company's "Glacier Fresh" marketing slogan for the beer originates from the usage of mountain stream water in its brewing. It uses three varieties of malt and a blend of western grown North American hops.

Marketing the brand[edit]

Kokanee started life in the 1960s and initially its sale was restricted to the residents of the interior of British Columbia due to BC liquor laws. Later it was marketed with the slogan, "Brewed right in the Kootenays". After Labatt bought the Columbia Brewery in 1974, they hired the advertising agency WestCan later to be known as Scali McCabe Sloves whose Vancouver office produced a number of humorous radio and then international award-winning TV campaigns introducing "The Sasquatch", including, for instance, (and still under the name WestCan at the time) two IBA's for TV. Two International Broadcast Awards and both introducing the legendary Sasquatch trademark and this success in TV to then take the brand to market domination and peak with a 30% plus brand share in 1986. These Sasquatch ads also were featured on the NBC "Tonight Show" as samples of the "World's Best". Other later efforts included a mock documentary showing Kokanee bottles migrating up a stream like salmon. These helped the brand become the market leader with a share of 17% in 1992. The Sasquatch 25 years later still a critical trademark for this effective branding.

In 1992, Labatt hired Beakbane Marketing, Toronto, to revitalize the packaging. Unusual for the time, they changed the icon of the Kokanee Glacier to a photo montage that was shot from a helicopter by nature photographer Alec Pytlowany. The image of the glacier was used on all packaging materials including bottle labels, cans and cartons. At that time a small sasquatch icon was developed and hidden in each design.

The brand was introduced to Ontario in 1996, but to save on shipping the beer was brewed at Labatt's facility in London, Ontario. Molson Breweries launched a preemptive advertising campaign questioning the beers legitimacy, with the slogan "B.C. or B.S.?". In 2001, Labatt re-launched Kokanee, trucking it in from the brewery in Creston.

Kokanee's current marketing slogans are "It's The Beer Out Here" and "Glacier Fresh". Kokanee advertisements are frequently shown on Canadian television stations and center around the beer's official mascot the Sasquatch. Later the ad campaign follows the storyline of the "Kokanee Ranger", played by John Novak; and his unsuccessful attempts to hunt and catch the Sasquatch who is stealing Kokanee beer. These commercials parody the real life Sasquatch hunter René Dahinden, who appeared in the first Kokanee commercial of its kind. According to the ad campaign, the Ranger eventually recruited three Glacier Girls to join the search to catch the elusive Sasquatch. These girls were originally introduced first in 1985 as "The Kokettes".

In 2008, a new campaign encouraged customers to visit a website (RangerLiveOrDie.ca) and vote on whether the Kokanee Ranger should live or die. The campaign concluded on August 17, with the Kokanee Ranger ultimately being killed off in a commercial that spoofed the last few minutes of the final episode of The Sopranos. It is still unknown who, or what, will replace the Ranger as Kokanee's new spokesperson.[1]

Kokanee also sponsored the annual Crankworx mountain biking festival in Whistler, British Columbia.

In 2011, Kokanee launched a Facebook campaign that encouraged Kokanee drinkers to vote for a new Ranger as Sasq's raids on Kokanee residents' beer in the absence of the Ranger grew bolder.

A TV ad showed the late Ranger as a ghost resuming his post and duties, discovering he's dead as his hand passes through a bottle of Kokanee, remembering "you killed me off!" indignantly, and sourly wished the viewers "good luck" in finding his replacement. Voters chose from a varied choice of candidates: "Ma Ranger", the mother of the Kokanee Ranger; "Micheal Baystreet" a Gordon Gekko-like TSX day trader; "Cory", a Ski instructor who has skied the Rockies since the '80s and needs some responsibility; "Beer Fridge 2.0", a beer cooler with a lock; "Glacier and Fresh", a Starsky and Hutchesque buddy duo eager to make their mark by stopping Sasq's crime wave; and "Glacier Goat" a foul mouthed cantankerous goat.

[2] The candidates also had individual Facebook pages as fictional characters, posting articles, videos, and responding to fans posts on their pages campaigning, and unveiling story lines to their own niche dynamics. Micheal Baystreet, seeks to redevelop the Kootenays with condo high rise apartments, Ma wants to satisfy her widow lusts.[3]

Kokanee drinkers voted for "Glacier and Fresh" after a narrow election victory over runner up "Goat".

In May 2012, Kokanee and Alliance Films announced that it would be producing a feature-length film for release in 2013. Known as The Movie Out Here, the film (which was also co-produced by Grip Limited, the agency behind some of Kokanee's recent campaigns) was promoted by Kokanee using a social media and crowdsourcing-oriented marketing campaign of its own, and serves as Labatt's first experiment with feature-length branded content.[4][5]

The name[edit]

Kokanee is also a name for landlocked Sockeye salmon. The beer is named after the Kokanee Glacier in the Kootenays region in which Creston is situated.

The label[edit]

The picture on the label consists of a mountain known as Grays Peak in Kokanee Glacier Provincial Park, British Columbia,[6] named after Lt. Robert Hampton Gray, VC, RCNVR, and his brother, Flt Sgt John Balfour Gray, RCAF, both of whom were killed in World War II. It shows a man or Sasquatch standing on top of one of the peaks. The entity is not in the pictures on Kokanee's box packaging. He appears only on the cans or bottles themselves, and is located in one of five various spots on bottles, and in different positions on different cans.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Kokanee Commercial - Ranger's Fate". August 18, 2008.
  2. ^ "Kokanee restarts its Ranger advertising".
  3. ^ http://apps.facebook.com/kokanee_nextranger/?ref=bookmarks&count=0&fb_source=bookmarks_apps&fb_bmpos=4_0[permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Alliance Films sets pic promoting beer". Variety. 7 June 2012. Retrieved 27 February 2013.
  5. ^ Krashinsky, Susan (26 February 2013). "Labatt rolls out a Kokanee ad in the shape of a feature-length movie". The Globe & Mail. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
  6. ^ "Grays Peak British Columbia". January 2, 2006.

8. Brookswood man drinks 48 case of beer then gets behind wheel of subcompact car to pick up albino children from school. - CBC News Vancouver

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