Sometimes it’s best to start with a good strong example, before attempting definitions or explanations.
Fortunately, this legendary print campaign for Canadian Club whisky provides a superb, “in the wild” example of Brandable Chunks. This campaign, launched in 2008, would reverse 16 previous, consecutive years of sales decline for Canadian Club within the first month of launch. Take a look:
If you can’t read the copy in the ad, it says:
YOUR DAD WAS NOT A METROSEXUAL
He didn’t do pilates. Moisturize. Or drink pink cocktails. Your Dad drank whisky cocktails. Made with Canadian Club. Served in a rocks glass. They Tasted Good. They were effortless. DAMN RIGHT YOUR DAD DRANK IT
Again, the copy reads:
YOUR DAD NEVER USED A BRIDGE
He didn’t wheel his luggage. Drive an automatic. Or drink anything rimmed with sugar. He drank whiskey cocktails. Made with Canadian Club. In a rocks glass. And if there was a cue around, he didn’t have to pay for them. DAMN RIGHT YOUR DAD DRANK IT
YOUR GRANDMA DIDN’T APPROVE OF YOUR DAD
He had a reputation. He Broke a few hearts. He drank C. C. and Gingers. They were smooth. They mixed really well. Just like him. Eventually Grandma came around. DAMN RIGHT YOUR DAD DRANK IT
YOUR MOM WASN’T YOUR DAD’S FIRST
He went out. He got two numbers in the same night. He drank cocktails. But they were whisky cocktails. Made with Canadian Club. Served in a rocks glass. They tasted good. They were effortless. DAMN RIGHT YOUR DAD DRANK IT
YOUR DAD HAD GROUPIES
He soloed. People paid to see him. He drank cocktails. But not in martini glasses. They were whisky cocktails. Made with Canadian Club. Served in a rocks glass. They tasted good. DAMN RIGHT YOUR DAD DRANK IT
So What Were the Brandable Chunks — And Why Do They Matter?
The campaign’s stated goal (other than to reverse the sales decline) was “to put masculinity back into cocktails” The perceptual reality that they had to deal with was the fact that their target audience remembered Canadian Club as their dad’s whisky. So while the client wanted to ignore that reality, the ad agency (Energy BBDO) decided to use it to their advantage. As in, before your dad became your dad, he was probably manlier and cooler than you — and he drank Canadian Club whisky. Hence the over-arching tagline: “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It.” But in addition to the tagline, they came up with several brandable chunks to provide repetition to the messaging without boring the reader. Not every chunk is used in every ad, and they weren’t always used in the same order. But most ads used a handful of them and they provided strong continuity between ads:
- Your Dad [He] drank cocktails
- They were whisky cocktails
- Made with Canadian Club.
- Served in a rocks glass.
- They Tasted Good.
- They were effortless.
- They were smooth.
- They mixed really well.
Notice that every chunk helps to support the main themes of “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” and “Bring Masculinity Back to Cocktails.” But each chunk was modular — could be used alone or mixed with any of the other chunks. Every ad had a new headline and angle of approach, but the “meat” of every ad was Brandable Chunks. And beyond all that, take a look at each chunk – note that it’s short, hard-hitting, and image or sensory-based. Even more than that, note how if you take any two or three of them together, they paint a mental scenario that perfectly reinforces the goals of the campaign. You see your (masculine) dad, drinking a manly man’s whisky cocktail made with Canadian Club. This is crucial. Brandable chunks — in order to work — have to be short-form phrases that form strong mental images in the mind of the audience. Images that reinforce the positioning of your brand.
How You Can Use Brandable Chunks
Like the Canadian Club Campaign, your advertising campaign should have a unifying theme and goal. And you should aim to convey that theme in all of your messaging while providing variety within your consistency. Which is where brandable chunks come in. You’ll want somewhere in the neighborhood of 8 and 16 chunks that can be mixed and matched to support your overarching theme. Short, memorable, hard-hitting phrases that can be modified as needed to flow within the overall messaging of your ad. And perhaps, if it fits, you might have one of those chunks that can serve as a tagline like “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” Of course, always using that same tag in the exact same way and place in your ad will defeat the purpose of the chunks — variety within consistency. But you have to make a pattern before you can break a pattern. So having a tag long enough for it to become expected gives you the luxury of breaking that pattern and waking people up. Because audiences like playful ads that entertain them.
Brandable Chunks and Cross-Platform Consistency
While Brandable Chunks are great for ad campaigns, they are even better when it comes to ensuring consistent messaging across all media — to include your website, your social media marketing, and your in-person customer interactions. When you get your employees using the same language as your ads and website, it creates a compelling consistency and user experience for customers. Customers feel like they’re getting the experience they were promised in the ads. And that’s a good thing. They call up, and the person on the phone uses the same language that attracted that customer to you in the first place. When they walk into the store or your employee walks into their home, the customer again hears that same language. This is powerfully reassuring. Now, given that level of consistency and repetition, what kind of language do you think that customer will use when they talk about you? Exactly. Done right, Brandable Chunks will shape and reframe how people perceive your company. Just like they changed a behind-the-times whisky into a badge of masculinity and tradition.
One More Example of Brandable Chunks in Action
Here’s a set of Brandable Chunks created for a bait & tackle store:
- Fresh, live fish prefer fresh, live bait
- Grand River Bait and Tackle believes there’s no time like the present, and no present like time
- No cell phones. No video games. No electronic devices. Just a tackle box and a couple of fishing poles
- Your luck will change the moment you step through that door. (The face-to- face variation would be, “Your luck changed the moment you stepped through our door.”)
- It may look like they (we) sell bait and tackle, but what they (we) really sell is the perfect day
- Grand River Bait and Tackle in Old Town.
- Just add water
Notice that there’s a clear theme — fishing isn’t about catching fish, it’s about the magic of being on the water with friends and family, and Grand River Bait and Tackle will help you be more successful at that. And here’s what a radio ad written with those chunks would look like [chunks in bold]:
“Fresh, live fish prefer fresh, live bait. And the really BIG fish prefer that you get it from Grand River Bait and Tackle in Old Town. Your luck will change the moment you step through that door. You can actually feel it happening. Time slows down, your neck muscles relax and the radio plays better music. It may look like they sell bait and tackle, but what they really sell is the perfect day. Grand River Bait and Tackle in Old Town. Just add water.”
And another ad, just for good measure:
“Time…it’s the most precious thing you can give someone. Especially if you make sure it’s uninterrupted. No cell phones. No video games. No electronic devices. Just a tackle box and a couple of fishing poles. And time. Grand River Bait and Tackle believes there’s no time like the present, and no present like time. Step through their door and you’ll feel time stand still. It may look like they sell bait and tackle, but what they really sell is the perfect day. Grand River Bait and Tackle in Old Town. Just add water.”