Bensimon scores with CFL campaign

Friendly rivalry between teams has always been a healthy part of any sport, and with this in mind, Toronto-based Bensimon*Byrne D'Arcy came up with a humorous campaign playing up the rivalry between Canadian cities in order to promote the current Canadian Football League (CFL) season and the long-running heritage of the game.

Friendly rivalry between teams has always been a healthy part of any sport, and with this in mind, Toronto-based Bensimon*Byrne D’Arcy came up with a humorous campaign playing up the rivalry between Canadian cities in order to promote the current Canadian Football League (CFL) season and the long-running heritage of the game.

‘The strategic insight we used was the fact that this league really lives and dies on the strength of regional rivalries,’ says Brian Jamieson, VP group account director at Bensimon.

The Toronto-based CFL approached Bensimon to help position the brand and promote awareness within a younger demographic. ‘CFL wants to get more young guys involved so we had to come up with ads that would really appeal to them,’ says Jamieson.

The campaign, which launched across the country in early September, consists of seven 30-second spots many of which emulate famous film scenarios. In each, a fan hurls stereotypical insults at a rival city’s team and the city itself, and then eventually meets his demise, brought about by a group of heavy-duty opposition football players.

For example, in a scene imitating the movie Snatch, ‘Plastic Chair’ features a man from Hamilton taped to a chair, shouting abuse about people in Toronto, until a group of Toronto Argonaut football players surround him, holding garden shears.

By contrast, ‘Barber Shop’ focuses on a guy from Toronto being pampered at his desk with a manicure and facial. Throughout the ad he makes insulting remarks about the city of Hamilton, such as ‘What’s that smell? Hamilton, you stink…’

Each commercial ends with the catch-line: ‘CFL. The rivalry lives on.’

‘The insight for each of the spots is the same,’ says Jamieson. ‘They are deliberately written so that people will have a point of view and will get to talking about the CFL.’

The ads were shot in pairs to pitch cities against one another. ‘It made sense to pitch Toronto against Hamilton because of the longstanding rivalry there, while Calgary and Edmonton are also known to compete,’ says Jamieson.

‘Meat Locker’ and ‘Horsepull’ demonstrate the competition between Calgary and Edmonton while ‘A Run in the Woods’ makes fun of the developing rivalry between Montreal and Vancouver.

Jamieson admits that the ads may cause mild offense to some viewers, although they are all intended to be light-hearted. ‘They will certainly get a mix of reactions,’ he says. ‘One of the things that’s appealing to young people is controversial ads that older people don’t like, so this was a deliberate strategy to get people talking and create a bit of stir.’

Jamie Way, art director at Bensimon elaborates: ‘We chose simple imagery that was funny and irreverent. It is intended to get some fresh blood into football, and the imagery in all these spots really appeals to the younger audience as well as to the older die-hard fans. They are really eye-catching spots that make people sit up and pay attention.’

The spots will air on TSN and Sportsnet until the end of the CFL season in early November. Scheduling has not been altered as a result of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.

Radio is being considered as a possible means of extending the campaign for future seasons although no plans have yet been

finalized.

Client: Canadian Football League

Agency: Bensimon*Byrne D’Arcy

Account Management: Brian Jamieson

Planning: Jack Bensimon

Creative director: Glen Hunt

Art director: Jamie Way

Copywriters: Glen Hunt, Joe Musicco, Troy Palmer

Agency Producer: Lori Estabrooks

Director: Wade Sherman

Editor: Alison Gordon

Production Company: Spy Films