“Beware the Heat” commercials are airing across Canada. The ads show a parched, 20-something guy in a gritty city during the dog days of summer. It’s obvious that the guy is hot and thirsty, but the ads mysteriously close with “BewaretheHeat.com”.

The BewaretheHeat.com site shows the ads, but tells little. The campaign is designed to take up more thought power than a usual 30-second commercial allows. The Beware the Heat commercials avoid identifying a product. If you sign up to learn more about the campaign, you receive a confirmation email that prompts viral marketing by asking you to tell your friends about the campaign. The email also tells you that you did the right thing by signing up.

But the ad’s true identity is just a click away. The site’s privacy policy reveals that Pepsi QTG is behind the site. Moreover, the Canadian Intellectual Property Office database shows that Pepsi owns the trademark for “Beware the Heat”. BewaretheHeat.com is registered to Proximity Canada, the direct and relationship marketing affiliate of BBDO. Pepsi QTG is one of BBDO’s largest clients. Pepsi QTG owns several brands, including Pepsi, Gatorade, Tropicana and Aquafina.

But is the campaign for Pepsi? The otherwise sepia images show blue water containers on top of buildings and an empty swimming pool. This may indicate the start of an Aquafina campaign, although the ads seem better suited to Pepsi or Mountain Dew. Summer is notorious for Cola Wars and the ads seem to suggest that water (if you can find it) isn’t enough to quench thirst. So my money is on Pepsi.

(c) 2005 by Andrea Coutu. Vancouver Marketing Consultant. All rights reserved.