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Taking the CC Challenge

by Chris Edwards

Dan Tullio (left) and Tish Harcus (right) of Hiram Walker & Sons present a $10,000 U.S. cheque to Team Cleveland;
below: rolling out the barrel & the
CC Label Challenge.

It was the longest continuous promotional campaign in the history of the liquor industry, and it had its roots here. In 1967, Hiram Walker & Sons of Walkerville, Ontario launched a unique advertising campaign. Cases of Canadian Club were planted in exotic locales like Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Angel Falls in Venezuela, Mt. St. Helen’s in Washington State, and the Swiss Alps. Clever magazine ads tempted Canadian Club drinkers to find the hidden cases of whisky; weekly clues were provided in sports sections of daily newspapers.

Those who managed to find the hidden cases were rewarded with an all expenses-paid trip around the world. And Hiram Walker & Sons flew in the media to promote any case that was found. The hide-a-case campaign resulted in much positive publicity for Canadian Club whisky.

The cases were hidden so that they could eventually be found, near the reputed site of the Lost Dutchman Mine in Arizona, deep in Death Valley, or somewhere in Washington, D.C. The box in Arizona was found in about a week, but a case hidden atop a skyscraper in New York eluded searchers for 13 weeks.

Still, some of the whisky was never found. A case planted in the Arctic remains lost. The Mt. Kilimanjaro case was not discovered until the mid-70s, when a Danish journalist stumbled over it while on an expedition. A young man on his honeymoon found the case buried near Angel Falls.

Despite the campaign’s enormous success, the “Hide-A-Case” campaign was retired in 1981. In all, 22 cases were hidden between 1967-1981.

In September of this year, Canadian Club updated the hidden case advertising campaign, renamed the “CC Find-A-Case Challenge.” For six straight weeks, clues were offered at participating bars and local retail outlets bars in 21 U.S. markets and through the CC web site (designed and maintained by Walkerville Publishing, producers of The TIMES Magazine).

Those who eventually found the cases, stashed in U-Haul Storage units, were entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to come to Walkerville to win $10,000 U.S.

From November 7-9, fourteen lucky sweepstakes winners and friends received an all-expenses paid trip to Walkerville, the birthplace of Canadian Club whisky, to vie for the $10,000 U.S. prize.

And to have a whole lot of fun in the process!

Participants joined in the CC Find-A-Case Challenge – earning points in seven events that tested them physically, and mentally as well. The seven events were developed and coordinated by Hiram Walker & Sons employees, who volunteered their time and talent to help make the event successful.

On the first evening, contestants played the CC Poker Run. Escorted by friendly Hiram Walker & Sons volunteers to four downtown Windsor drinking establishments, each team received one playing card, with a final card being handed out at the hospitality suite of the Hilton Hotel. The team with the best poker hand by the end of the evening gained valuable points on the road to 10 grand.

Saturday, November 8th was action-packed.
After a tour of the Canadian Club facility, delegates engaged in the “Roll the Barrel” event, followed by the “CC Hockey Challenge,” and the “Chuck-a-Bung” contest.

Next, the “Organaleptic” test required participants to smell, taste and correctly identify which dark blue glass contained CC 6 year-old, CC 8 year-old, and CC 12 year-old whisky. Saturday’s challenge events wrapped up with the “CC Label” contest – participants had to properly label three different brands of CC bottles.

On Sunday, the road to ten thousand dollars concluded with the CC Trivia Challenge. Participants were required to answer skill-testing questions related to everything they learned during the CC Find-A-Case Challenge weekend.

After the points were tabulated, Team Cleveland, Ohio was declared the winner in a tightly contested match, and received a cheque for $10,000 US!

But nobody felt like a loser. A strong sense of comraderie developed among the participants; they went home with a package of great consolation prizes, and will certainly become ambassadors for the Canadian Club brand.

According to Dan Tullio, Brand Director, “We wanted to bring back a campaign that did wonders for CC. The whole experience has been very positive. And the brand has received an increase in sales volume in the markets where the Find-A-Case Challenge was held. Participants who came to Walkerville have a much better appreciation of the brand, and the craftsmanship and quality that goes into every bottle of CC.”

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