Aquarelle, a line of vodka-based canned drinks, launches across Canada with ad blitz

Aquarelle, Molson Coors Beverage Co.’s line of vodka-based canned drinks, has launched across Canada with a multimillion-dollar marketing blitz.

The ready-to-drink beverages, available only in Canada, will be backed by a large-scale marketing campaign. Aquarelle is a key part of Molson Coors’ efforts to grow its footprint in the beyond beer segment, says Leslie Malcolm, brand director for Aquarelle.

The still water version of Aquarelle, which contains 100 calories in each 355-mililiter can and checks in at 5% alcohol by volume, represents the first-to-market vodka-still water ready-to-drink beverages available in Canada. It’s available in mango and blackberry, while the vodka soda version comes in three flavors: lime, passionfruit and berry pomegranate.

Unlike other beverages in the category, Aquarelle has differentiating flavors, but won’t overwhelm drinkers’ taste buds, says Maddie Gillmeister, assistant brand manager for Aquarelle, says.

“The flavors are subtle. You won’t get that intense flavor common to the category,” she says. “Flavor expectations are so important for the consumer to understand as they enter and experiment in this category.”

Made with natural flavors and with zero grams of carbohydrates, Aquarelle is available in singles, six-packs of individual flavors, and mixed 12-packs, depending on the region. The brand is available nationwide with the exception of Quebec, where it hopes to launch with the same flavors, using a similar recipe later this year.

Aquarelle’s vodka-soda variant plants a flag in Molson Coors’ beyond-beer aspirations in Canada. With hard seltzers and other ready-to-drink options proving a necessary addition to beverage makers’ rosters, “we realized we needed to make some more noise and put a bigger stamp on Aquarelle,” says Gillmeister.

In response, Aquarelle beefed up its original ad spend, betting big on a plan that includes paid media, digital, influencers, and eventually on- and off-premise marketing. The campaign began last week with digital ads; television, online video and other platforms will launch this summer, Gillmeister says.

The new, multi-platform campaign features work from Canadian artists. It is poised to reach millions of Canadians over the coming months, fending off challenges from competitors including Nutrl and newly available White Claw in a fast-growing ready-to-drink segment that continues to post consistent double-digit growth.

In the new campaign, Aquarelle encourages Canadians to “embrace their realness,” says Gillmeister. “It’s really about you finding your flavor, expressing yourself and being positive about yourself.”

And while many Canadian beer and liquor stores are operating with limited hours as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, ready-to-drink beverages continue to grow, presenting Molson Coors with an opportunity to win over more consumers, including traditional beer drinkers, Malcolm says.

She cites the explosive entrance of Molson Coors’ AriZona Hard Green Tea, which is selling so well that retailers are scrambling to keep their shelves stocked.

“People are flocking to simple pleasures  and the at home drinking occasion very much remains relevant,” Malcolm says. “It’s shown us people are still keen  to try new things and this is the category they want to experiment in. We think the future for Aquarelle is bright.”