Hidden Booze Treasure Ad Campaign

Jason Torchinsky is a guest blogger on Boing Boing. Jason has a book out now, Ad Nauseam: A Survivor's Guide to American Consumer Culture. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a tinkerer and artist and writes for the Onion News Network. He lives with his partner Sally, five animals, too many old cars, and a shed full of crap.

I'm more used to being a critic of advertising, but I have to admit, I kind of like this old late 60s-early 70s ad campaign/stunt for Canadian Club whiskey. The idea is really simple: the company hid cases of the whiskey in remote locations throughout the world, and daring go-getter boozehounds with, I imagine, a good bit of disposable income, would go off in hunt of them. The ad I have here describes one at the bottom of Devil's Backbone Reef in the Bahamas. Here's an old article about it, too.

Incredibly, as improbable as it would seem that a company would be allowed to just leave around cases of alcohol in our modern, fussier time, it looks like the contest was revived, in 2004, but they were in U-Hauls, which makes it lots less fun.

Information about the event is a bit scant online, but I did find this one very, very informative comment:
In 1967, Hiram Walker and its advertising agency began hiding cases of Canadian Club Whiskey around the world. In all, 22 cases were hidden and 5 remain hidden to this day. The 5 remaining cases were hidden: 1) At the North Pole; 2) In Lake Placid, NY; 3) In The Yukon Territory of Canada; 4) On Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile; and 5) In Ujiji. Of the 5 remaining cases, those in Lake Placid, The Yukon, and Chile have clues which are at best vague. Those cases will most likely never be found. Of the 2 other cases, both the North Pole clues and the Ujiji clues were quite specific. The North Pole clues included Longitude and Latitude, Minutes and Seconds. Unfortunately, due to its location, it most likely sank into the snow long ago. The Ujiji case remains the strongest candidate as to its potential discovery. If anyone is interested in learning of the Ujiji hidden case of Canadian Club whiskey, contact me @ james.willhoft@gte.net

Wow! There's still 5 cases out there! I actually found a few other similar posts about the remaining 5 cases, signed by a "James W." Man, this guy really, really wants those weathered old cases of hooch. Maybe it's time to get up an expedition of discriminating drunks with lots of frequent flyer miles to burn, or willing to take up a collection and get poor, obsessed James a case of his own.


  1. If someone will pay my way, I’m in.

    What do I bring to the table?:
    1) A dive certification
    2) The ability to prevent a successful hunt being ruined by adding luggage fees on the return flight.

  2. I’d be very surprised of the caps were able to withstand the corrosion and pressure at depths to have protected the booty. You’d likely end up with a very interesting conversation piece, but no hangover.

  3. Ahh – the power of advertising. I remember these ads and remember being intrigued by them, but must have been about 4-6 at the time.

  4. with the possible exception of the case at the North Pole, I would wager some locals have long found and drunk the stuff – they just forgot to tell the Canadian Club people

  5. “discriminating drunks”? “Canadian Club”? I think not.

    However, if these were cases of Springbank, I’d be out there like a shot.

  6. It looks like the caps are cork, and there have been bottles of wine that have been recovered from wrecks after much longer than this and still been drinkable.

  7. I loved those ads! I used to see them in old National Lampoons and (I think) Esquire. I always wondered if any of those had been found.

    But nobody ever posted it on the Dataweb forums back then. Just tips on which corduroys went best with which brown shoes, and arguments over whether Marantz was better than Kenwood.

  8. I’ve looked but cannot find any info on the missing Lake Placid case. I get up there once a year and would love to know what that “vague” clue is.

  9. Anything left at the North Pole 40 years ago didn’t “sink into the snow”—it’s at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean.

  10. Some pitchman:
    I really want to go to the North pole. And Scuba Diving in the bahamas. Making these trips deductible isn’t enough. I need a sucker to PAY for them.

    Who’s on my client list? Hmm.
    GM- Drive a (bitchin’!) camaro to the Bahamas! Mmm. no.

    Pepto-bismol? After the stress of a long journey, soothe it with pepto! Hmm. Maybe.

    Hiram Walker spirits? WE HAVE A WINNER.

  11. There is a great story, and the crate itself at the tourist trap/museum in East of Tempe at the edge of the Superstition Wilderness in AZ. Apparently, there were so many treasure hunters (seeking the lost Dutchman’s gold) that a prospective prospecter found a case, due to the disturbed ground, before the ad actually ran. The CC people dug a hole, buried it, then cover it back up and laid a campfire on the site to hide it. (http://goldfieldghosttown.com/attractions.html)

    The book “Out West” by Dayton Duncan, who follows the Lewis and Clark trail in more modern times, takes a sidetrack to look for the case hidden on their route.

  12. Talk about silly advertising campaigns:

    In 1955 you could get a deed to a square inch of land – one of 19.11 acres of them – in the Klondike (Dawson), issued by The Klondike Big Inch Land Co., when you bought Quaker puffed rice. Twenty-one million numbered deeds were printed.

    You can get the whole story, and find out how much your certificate has appreciated, by Googling “19.11 acres in square inches”

  13. “Ahh – the power of advertising. I remember these ads and remember being intrigued by them, but must have been about 4-6 at the time.”

    — that was my same reaction! I don’t remember reading the text but that image is imprinted somewhere in my mind. Esquire sounds a likely culprit. This image also reminds me of detective/adventure pulp covers from that time.

  14. Don’t sharks eat like, anything?!?
    People on life raft: Oh god, here comes a shark. Honey, don’t look. It’s heading right for us with its mouth open..no, no wait, he’s swerving listlessly to the side. He’s-he’s going in circles. Now he’s on his side and he isn’t moving. That can’t be right. Is he throwing up empty bottles of Canadian Club? Honey, I think we’re going to be okay.

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