(Creative Content)

What The Hell Are Brandable Chunks And Why Do They Make Taglines Look Played Out?

This legendary print campaign for Canadian Club whisky provides a superb, “in the wild” example of Brandable Chunks.

Jeff Sexton
Jeff Sexton
March 26, 2021
What The Hell Are Brandable Chunks And Why Do They Make Taglines Look Played Out?

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:

not a metrosexual

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

never used a bridge

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

grandma didn't approve

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

not dad's first

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

dad had groupies

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.”

Note how tight, hard-hitting, and image-rich those 30-second radio ads are? Notice how those ads change how you think about a Bait and Tackle store? That’s all thanks to Brandable Chunks. So raise your glass to Canadian Club and Brandable Chunks. Next week I’ll go into details on how to create your own.

(Branding)
(Storytelling)
Jeff Sexton
Jeff Sexton

Businesses either sell $5 haircuts, or fix $5 haircuts. I’m your guy if your company fixes $5 haircuts. Working together, we'll de-commodify your business, make pricing pressure a thing of the past, and grab the lion’s share of customers willing to pay a premium for your service or product.

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The first reason we own your copyright is to ensure that we do not have to go up against our own creative works in other markets we serve. This means you are not allowed to lend, give, borrow, tweak, rent, lease, or sell your creative works to any other company at any time.

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All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. Wizard of Ads® for Services hereby irrevocably grants you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
How do I measure brand results?

There are a number of interesting ways to measure results. Some people like to get unique identifying telephone numbers, or create branded URLs that redirect to landing pages or the website. However, much of this is a waste of time and energy as it never tells the true story of the brand journey and how it affected the decision-making process.

Other indicators of brand effectiveness include tracking new customers, reactivated customers, or running a brand equity survey to get a sense of your share of mind. Digitally you will see direct search increase, which cannot be affected by anything digital, as well as branded keyword inquiries increase. You’ll, of course, need to get your digital people to add these to your campaigns if you hope to see an increase in conversions.

Wizard of Ads® for Services racks the simplest of indicators. Top line revenue. When your branding takes effect, and the company responds in kind from the phone call or form fill-on, top-line revenue will increase. Efficacy is plotted on a T12, and total lead volume from all sources is tracked.

12 things you should know before signing up.
  1. Quality relationships take time. Branding is a long-term strategy. That’s why most services do it wrong, or not at all. There is always a lag between the start of the new campaign and the time it takes your customers to connect the dots. You MUST BE READY, WILLING, AND ABLE to endure this lag period. In our experience, the lag is typically 6 to 9 months, depending on how competitive the marketplace is, your company’s reputation, your budget in relation to reach, and the eight uncontrollable environmental factors. During this time, we will be helping you implement a transition plan to ease the pain. The good news is that this lag only happens once.
  2. Decisions by Committee. We completely reject the notion of decisions by committee. We work with a single, courageous decision-maker. We welcome decision influencers, but we only look to the Owner for the final decision. All decision-makers and influencers must be involved in the Uncovery and Marketing Strategy Presentation if they want to offer input in the future. It is critical that we have a 100% fully approved plan that can be defended and championed by all leaders in the organization.  
  3. Proven Strategy. That means we are not the low-cost provider. With hundreds of service clients and a playbook of strategic devices, tools, and tactics, this isn’t a guessing game for us. We know what to do to make your goods and services appealing to potential buyers. If you can deliver the goods, we can  build the relationships. If you are uncomfortable with the idea that you are paying us less now so that you can pay us considerably more once revenues allow, please do not commit. We intend to be your true partners, in sickness and in health...so long as you own your business.
  4. Automatic Payments. Everything is on automatic payments. If you struggle with managing cash flow, figure that out in your business first. We accept all major credit cards and ACH payments.
  5. We Cause Problems. If you don’t have a capacity issue now, I promise you will in about 9 months. Let’s deal with recruitment out of the gate as part of your comprehensive marketing strategy.
  6. We Own the Copyrights. All writing and/or marketing materials we create for you are not works-for-hire. We irrevocably grant you, and your successors in interest, the non-exclusive, royalty-free, non-transferable, and worldwide right to use the Works in connection with the marketing of your business pursuant to the Marketing Strategy for so long as your business is operational.
  7. Brand Building. We will be steering you to limit the use of discounts, rebates, coupons, and sales to attract clients. We know this feels counterintuitive to many, and we will clarify our reasoning. Rest assured, we have considerable experience in creating similar offers that are not damaging to your profitability, your brand’s integrity, and your preferable long-term client relations.
  8. Creative Authority. We must have creative authority over the words. You can accept copy as written or reject it outright, but you cannot modify the words yourself. If you do not like something as written, we are happy to discuss it and make the necessary change to maintain the integrity and intention of the words chosen. Alternatively, we will scrap the concept and create new copy that you are happy to get behind 100%.
  9. Proprietary Algorithm. The media buy must be structured in a very specific way, including running a full 52-week schedule. It is based on brain chemistry, not P&Ls. Once we have committed to the buy, it’s important to avoid adjustments unless they are calculated additions.
  10. Knucklehead Factor. You should expect knuckleheads. For example, when you start running ads that are certain to get attention, you need the courage to continue running those ads, even when you receive complaints. We celebrate complaints. It means we’ve made people feel.
  11. Digital Weasels. In about three months from the time your advertising campaign hits the airways, your digital marketers will show you a marked increase in direct and organic traffic. Some Digital Marketers will mistakenly claim this success as their own. Done properly, you can continue to spend less and less on digital lead generation by increasing your branded keyword online presence.
  12. Annual Marketing Meetings. Travel permitting, we prefer to hold Annual Marketing Meetings (AMMs) outside your city. Years of experience have taught us that we get better results when decision-makers are outside their sphere of influence, away from the day-to-day distractions of the office.

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