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Campaign from Burns Group retooled for pandemic times

By  E.J. Schultz

Canadian brew Labatt originally planned to debut a campaign on Memorial Day weekend all about “how to do the lake right with Labatt,” with scenes of friends hanging out lakeside. But those plans were spoiled by the coronavirus, making lake-based marketing a little tone deaf with so many people locked down inside their homes. So the brand and agency Burns Group scrambled to take a new approach, birthing a new campaign called "Fake It Until We Lake It."

The effort takes the lake inside and into backyards, so to speak, with scenes of people recreating activities like wakeboarding, kayaking, tubing and sitting around a campfire. The wakeboarding ad, for instance, shows a man balancing on a skateboard while someone sprays him with a hose against the backdrop of a video showing a real lake. 

In another ad, a man is inside a kayak resting in a small inflatable pool, while another spot shows a guy “tubing” on a backyard trampoline.

The agency and production company Droptree wanted to avoid using user-generated content, a tactic that has been overused during the pandemic to the point where it has become a cliche. So Droptree  directors Matt Miadich and Connor Martin put themselves in the ads, which were filmed in their yards, living rooms, garages and bathrooms.

“While many agencies have pivoted over the last few months due to the pandemic, pivoting as a small independent agency on behalf of a challenger brand (whose entire production budget had already been spent) and doing so without sacrificing timeline or creative integrity takes on a whole new meaning,” Burns Group said in a statement. “It’s no easy feat, and it can’t be done without a whole lot of trust.”

Adds Executive Creative Director Sam Arcade: “I’m really proud of all of us. And I cannot wait until we can all get together and celebrate, within 6 feet, damn, it!”

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