"Please drink responsibly" has been a ubiquitous tag line at the end of beer and liquor ads for years. Molson Coors Canada is taking its don't-drink-and-drive marketing message a step further, by helping with a campaign that will foot part of the bill for thousands of cab rides for drinkers in Toronto.
It's a new co-marketing initiative with the Hailo application for mobile devices, which was invented in the U.K. last year, and has since launched in Dublin and in Toronto at the beginning of this month, followed by Boston and Chicago in recent weeks. On Wednesday, Molson Coors will announce that roughly 100 bars and restaurants in Toronto will be giving out $10 vouchers for use with the app over the holiday period.
Hailo allows users who have downloaded the free app and registered their information to hail the nearest cab with two taps on a phone's screen. Hailo will provide the free vouchers, while Molson will handle their distribution through its network of bar and restaurant contacts in the city.
The app finds their location, and sends a call to the nearest driver who is using it to supplement the business they get through radio dispatch and hails on the street. (Toronto has more than 600 drivers signed up so far.) Payment is processed by the debit or credit card registered in the app.
"You're at a bar, or you've had a nice meal, maybe with a couple of our brews ... I think it will be something that will really surprise and delight customers," said Gavin Thompson, Molson Coors senior director of public affairs.
The campaign is part of Molson's larger marketing efforts around corporate responsibility at a particularly risky time of year. It also comes at a time when Molson is doing other marketing to keep beer top-of-mind during the holiday season, when sales are slower than in the summer peak period. It recently launched its first seasonal beer for fall, the spiced Rickard's Cardigan; followed by the launch of a new winter lager, Rickard's Oakhouse.
The Hailo partnership allows Molson to supplement its co-operation with police services and other organizations across Canada for its safe drinking message. The app, which is available for iPhones and Android handsets, and will be launching soon on the BlackBerry and Windows operating systems as well, already has more than 30,000 downloads in Toronto, said Justin Raymond, president of Hailo Network Canada.
Mr. Raymond helped Molson to develop its Taxiguy app two years ago – an extension of the toll-free number it has been operating for taxi services across Canada for more than a decade – a relationship that helped foster the current marketing partnership.
In addition to promoting safe behaviour, it will also help Hailo to promote itself in Canada.
"Whenever alcohol is consumed in large quantities, and people are out having a good time, taxicabs fit into that," Mr. Raymond said.
The company already has agreements in place to launch in other global markets, including New York City, Tokyo and Madrid, and is exploring expansion in Canadian cities including Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary. Concrete announcements on its Canadian expansion will come in early 2013.
Editor's Note: A new marketing partnership between Molson Coors Canada and taxi hailing mobile application Hailo will give out free vouchers toward taxi rides in Toronto. Hailo will provide the vouchers, while Molson will handle distribution to its bar and restaurant partners as part of the effort. Incorrect information appeared in an earlier version of this story.