Our dream treasure hunt? One that involves an international quest for free whiskey and a $10,000 prize, which was precisely the case in the Summer of 1967. In one of cleverest marketing ploys of advertising’s golden age, Canadian Club Whiskey hid 25 crates of its liquid gold around the globe, and adventurous consumers (of a legal age) were encouraged venture to the bottom the sea and the tops of mountains to find them. The best part? To this day, about sixteen cases are still waiting to be discovered…
The campaign was dubbed, “Hide a Case,” and the whiskey was left in locations like Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Great Barrier Reef, and Angel Falls; Loch Ness, Manhattan, and Death Valley. During the ’70s, cases were valued at $125. Once hidden, Canadian Club would run an ad giving away only the location (i.e. Lake Placid), and the hunt would begin.
Unsurprisingly, whiskey aficionados lacking any decent rock climbing, paragliding, or scuba skills had a bit of difficulty. But the campaign certainly captured the public’s imagination.
One man, David Mattoon, went so far as to bring his wife Diana to Venezuela on their honeymoon– his ulterior motive, of course, was uncovering the case at Angel Falls. Another man, John Blewett was actually successful; he meticulously mapped-out his quest for the Manhattan loot in 1978, and found it atop a skyscraper with a friend.
Larry Hedrick found a case in the Arizona mountains by the Lost Dutchman gold mine, “I could tell by the way someone had laid the twigs across the top that this wasn’t a fire pit,” he told ABC News years later. “Never in our wildest imagination had we expected anyone to actually search for one of our cases,” Canadian Club told Washington Post in 1978, “much less find one.”
The crates were hidden up until 1991, and the campaign was briefly reincarnated in 2010 as a kind of game show wherein the grand prize was not only the whiskey, but $100,000.
A Lake Placid journalist contacted Canadian Club about the status of the remaining cases in 2010, a spokesperson replied, “Great question…we suspect there are about five still out there that have been lost” and told ABC News the same year, “Part of the mystery is that we’re not entirely sure.”
We don’t know about you, but we just might be planning our next holiday in Mt. Kilimanjaro.