A much-loved Canadian brand is readying its own resurrection.
The owners of Clearly Canadian have turned to the public for support in remounting the brand and bringing it back to the marketplace.
For the past 10 months, the carbonated beverage brand has been crowdfunding its return by pre-ordering cases of 12 bottles for $29.99 on ClearlyCanadian.com. The company’s president, an American entrepreneur named Robert Khan, has promised to fulfil the orders once 25,000 cases have been purchased. Until that point, he’s vowed not to charge any of the customers.
Khan said the money from 25,000 sales would be enough to meet a minimum order and put the product back into production. To date, he said 8,000 cases have been sold.
The company intends to sell the bottle under its original design, just as it debuted in 1987. Clearly Canadian was founded that year in British Columbia and went on to sell two billion bottles globally. The brand’s heyday was in the 90s, when it enjoyed mass popularity and became a pop culture staple featured on shows like Seinfeld
and Beverly Hills 90210
The company faltered through the mid 2000s as new owners took over and the brand’s founder,Doug Mason, exited. After a series of missteps, it ceased production late 2009.
Five years later, Khan is optimistic about Clearly Canadian’s return to prominence. He and a group of private investors now own the brand and have set up headquarters in Richmond Hill, Ontario.
“The brand equity is formidable. People love Clearly Canadian,” he said. Khan called. the drink the “Coca Cola of Canada,” but added that he believes there’s a market for the drink outside the country.
“I don’t know how much Canadians recognize that Americans are very fond of the brand,” he said.
Khan said the company has received orders for 100,000 cases from regional distributers, but does not yet have the capital to begin production.
To build buzz, Clearly Canadian has enlisted the Toronto-based firm The PR Department and set up a contest to win one of four “Clearly Canadian” experiences.
Each customer who purchases a case will be entered to win a trip for up to 10 guests to go skiing in Whistler, British Columbia; horseback riding in Banff, Alberta; partying at “Le Carnival” in Quebec City, Quebec or witnessing the northern lights in the Yukon.
It has also honed in on the brand’s base of fans. Since Khan took over the brand in 2012, its Facebook fanbase has grown from 5,000 likes to 32,000.
While part of the pitch to consumers is nostalgia for the brand, Khan said Clearly Canadian has the potential to return as the premium product it once was, not a gimmick or a fad.
“Clearly Canadian certainly made a big impact on Gen X and their Baby Boomer parents. They’re the ones who are calling for , but we don’t see ourselves as a nostalgia brand,” he said.
The reason Clearly Canadian disappeared, Khan said, was because of “strategic errors made by prior management,” not consumers losing interest.
“It was never a fad,” he said.
This article first appeared in Marketing Magazine