Editorial

The right vehicleAmid all of the justifiable anguish over the current role, the efficacy and the shifting responsibilities of media advertising, a rather basic story tends to get obscured.And that is, that advertising does work - provided, of course, that the...

The right vehicle

Amid all of the justifiable anguish over the current role, the efficacy and the shifting responsibilities of media advertising, a rather basic story tends to get obscured.

And that is, that advertising does work – provided, of course, that the message it has been assigned to convey is sensitively crafted to its target audience and then properly delivered over the appropriate media channel.

A new commercial soon to be screening in Cineplex Odeon theatres across Canada seems, at this admittedly early stage, to be meeting all the right requirements.

The 75-second spot is part of a continuing federal government campaign aimed at reminding Canadians of the importance of staying in school and completing at least a high school education. The program began four years ago after federal authorities woke up to the fact that Canada, a country whose economic future will largely depend on its ability to maintain a skilled work force, has the worst high-school drop-out rate of any of the industrialized nations.

So the campaign began, under the guidance of Toronto-based marketing communications company The Gingko Group, in partnership with Groupe Everest in Montreal, as a broad reminder to parents and teens that life without an education in today’s world can become one big dead end. The television portion used a spot that showed a high school drop-out in a telephone booth, newspaper want ads in hand, not even getting a job interview because he lacked minimum educational requirements.

Now, the focus of the campaign is shifting directly towards teens.

As the objective of the message narrowed, as the audience became more closely defined and as budgets tightened, Gingko/Groupe Everest began peeling away various media alternatives until the agency found what seems to be the perfect vehicle – movie theatres.

A number of important elements converge to make this an ideal solution.

First of all, the numbers are there. While 12- to 17-year olds make up 10% of the population, 18% of teens are regular movie-goers. And of the frequent movie-goers (two to five times every six months), a disproportionate number are teens.

And the timing is right. This summer, when students have time to go to movies and when many will be making their decisions whether to return to school, Cineplex will be running new blockbuster action films featuring popular figures such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone.

Cinemas also provide an opportunity to display posters and distribute informational support materials.

And finally, the message itself.

As Gingko President Perry Miele describes it, ‘We had to be entertaining, but leave our audience with a message. We absolutely could not do something corny. Kids want straight talk. They want to be talked to like adults. They want real `come-at-you’ information.’

The commercial, directed by Quebec director Marc Grenier, does exactly that. It shows a young teenager, in a stark, dream-like setting, being shunted from one door to another as they close before her. The tension builds until she awakens in her bedroom. The final scene shows her walking through the door of a classroom as a voiceover advises that doors open by staying in school.

This message has a great chance of getting through.