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persuasion notebook

A screengrab from a YouTube video for Kokanee’s Peak Brew campaign.

It's something of a marketing joke that, while no brand has a lock on being stored in customers' fridges, beers often advertise themselves as ice cold.

Kokanee has taken that claim a step further, gathering snow from mountains in Western Canada to create a limited-edition line of its beer.

The Labatt Breweries of Canada-owned brand has produced 3.7 million cans of its new Peak Brew for sale, using roughly 50 litres of melted snow from seven peaks in Alberta and British Columbia in the brewing process.

"There are some other beers that say they are mountain-refreshing, and they're brewed in the city," said Randy Stein, a partner at Grip Limited, the ad agency for Kokanee. He believes the authenticity of using real snow will enhance a local connection that the brand has always cultivated in the West.

The process was documented in videos that have been posted online. It's part of a growing trend in marketing to produce content that feels more like entertainment than advertising.

"Everyone is talking about 'branded content,'" Mr. Stein said. "Here, the beer is the content."

The stunt was made possible by a marketing partnership that Kokanee has with a number of western ski resorts: Lake Louise, Whistler Blackcomb, Fernie, Kicking Horse, Kimberley, Marmot Basin and Nakiska. The resorts serve the brand at their bars and restaurants, and in the past Kokanee has also promoted the resorts, such as by printing trail maps on the cans. Many of those partnerships are more than 20 years old.

The company worked with the resorts to get to the peaks in December and January, to gather snow in metal canisters to be taken back to the brewery. In some cases, this meant accessing remote areas by helicopter or Snow Cat. At Whistler Blackcomb, Kokanee enlisted professional skier and local daredevil Rory Bushfield to jump out of a plane, scoop up the snow and then ski back down.

"We extracted snow upwards of three times at each mountain with varying degrees of difficulty," Todd Allen, director of marketing for Kokanee, said in an e-mail. "… It's never easy getting to the peak of a mountain. We had to face inclement weather, varying snow conditions and tricky terrain."

It's quite the length to go to for a marketing message. While only a trace amount of the water in each can is from the melted snow, the company is hoping consumers will latch on to the symbolic connection.