By Adam St. Pierre, National Post Staff
J.M. Cressman Travel blogger J.M. Cressman, along with his finance, stumbled upon the Canadian Beer Fridge depicted in the Molson Canadian ads, which aired during the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
A bright red, but not all that well hidden, piece of Canada remains intact on a remote island off Indonesia’s coast.
Travel blogger J.M. Cressman, along with his fiancé, stumbled upon the Canadian Beer Fridge depicted in the Molson Canadian ads, which aired during the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
The ads tell the story of Ryan and Phil from Ottawa, who travel to visit their friend Morgan in the Gili Islands. They bring with them a satellite hook-up, to watch Team Canada games, and a red fridge marked with a white maple leaf supposedly filled with Molson’s 625-millilitre “victory bottles”. The ad shows them trudging through wilderness, across rivers, and along a beach before reaching their friend, who is ecstatic about their arrival.
Cressman and fiancé were vacationing in Gili Air, one of the three islands of an archipelago just off the northwestern tip of Lombok, Indonesia. The islands sit along a Bali backpacking trail especially popular with European tourists. Cressman says it was a Danish couple on their own “self-guided” pub-crawl who told them about the forgotten piece of Canadiana.
“When he found out I was Canadian, he immediately asked, ‘Do you know Morgan? He’s famous in Canada!”
Cressman remembers the commercial and says he was never really skeptical that the fridge actually existed.
“As a Canadian expat, I loved the concept of the commercial,” Cressman said. “I never really doubted the authenticity of the commercial. The reaction from Morgan when he opens the door of his hut looked genuine and heartfelt to me.”
It turns out, while Morgan and the fridge were real, the intrepid journey to the fridge’s location might be a bit of a tall tale.
“It was only about a kilometre away from my hotel […] All I had to do was get to my hotel and walk west along the beach path.”
Locals were aware of Molson’s treasure trove and were able to point him in the right direction.
“When I asked, they just smiled and yelled, ‘That way!’ or ‘keep walking!’ and returned to their business unfazed.”
Gili Air is a small island with no paved roads or cars, and people get around by horse, cart taxi or biking. Cressman says it takes about forty-five minutes to bike around the whole island. The beachfront is dotted with bars and guesthouses to serve tourists. They found the fridge in a thatched-roof bar sitting across from the beach. A sign inside says ‘Free Wifi, Cold Beer’ with the words ‘wifi’ and ‘cold’ in tiny lettering.
J.M. Cressman A sign hanging in the bar with the Molson Canadian Beer Fridge advertises
But when they arrived they found no Molson victory bottles inside, just local food and condiments. Bintang, a cheap and popular Indonesian beer, was served from a regular fridge next to it.
And as Cressman learned, there may never have been any Molson beer to begin with.
“When Morgan was delivered the fridge in the commercial, all the bottles were empty. The Indonesian government wouldn’t allow the alcohol to be imported into the country.”
Morgan himself was nowhere to be found, but they did meet another Canadian overseeing construction of a high-end hotel. The man, who was on leave from a fire department in Ontario and who owns his construction company, was given only a six-week permit to complete the project.
Cressman and his fiancé recently returned to Malaysia, where he currently resides, and will continue to post updates on his travels to his blog.