Zany Zellers spots reinforce tactical shift

With a tongue-in-cheek nod to Regis Philbin's Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Zellers Canada has launched the largest single promotion in its history. The 69-year-old retailer used the March 26 broadcast of the Academy Awards to launch 'Of Course I...

With a tongue-in-cheek nod to Regis Philbin’s Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? Zellers Canada has launched the largest single promotion in its history.

The 69-year-old retailer used the March 26 broadcast of the Academy Awards to launch ‘Of Course I Want to be a Millionaire’, a contest that offers Club Z members – mostly moms – the chance to win a million dollars.

The promotional campaign is part of Zellers’ ‘tactical shift’ toward more consumer promotions, says Julian O’Connell, the company’s director of sales promotion.

The contest is being supported with three national television spots, created by Toronto-based Ogilvy & Mather.

‘We wanted to get people excited and do it in a way that was a little different than your traditional promotional spot with things like floating dollar bills and huge dollar signs,’ says Patrick Gladney, account director at Ogilvy & Mather. ‘We wanted to do it in a way that was consistent with the rest of the Zellers’ work, which is trying to make an emotional connection with moms…to make moms feel as if we understand their lives.’

The campaign demonstrates, in a hilarious fashion, how a million dollars might make mom’s life easier. Thus, each of the 30-second spots features mom’s new executive assistant, ‘Brad’, whose sole purpose in life is to help mom out by super-managing the family, the neighbours and the dog. In one execution, Brad preps the family on what they should talk about at dinner – ‘happy-talk conversation’ – in anticipation of mom’s arrival.

By leveraging the popularity of the recent Millionaire craze in a fashion that’s consistent with Zellers’ image advertising, the promotion has served to make Canada’s largest loyalty program – with 10 million members – newsworthy again, O’Connell says. The contest, which is open only to Club Z members, is designed to recruit new members and encourage the participation of existing members – the more a member spends, the better the pool of awards for which they are eligible.

In addition to television, the ‘Of Course I Want to Be a Millionaire’ contest is also being promoted through point-of-purchase materials and more than 15 million scan cards to be distributed in-store and through newspapers across the country.


Client: Zellers

Agency: Ogilvy & Mather

Account Director: Patrick Gladney

Creative Directors: Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk

Producer: Laurie Maxwell

Copywriter: David Rosenberg

Art Director: Linda Carte

Planner: Anne Sutherland

Media: Television, point-of-purchase

Start Date: March 26

End Date: April 20

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group