Men as women, wireless wonders and annoying couples

Parodies promote W's new identity

Parodies promote W’s new identity

Imagine what television would be like without women. A multi-media campaign to promote Corus Entertainment’s newly launched W channel asks us to consider that notion by humorously placing men in roles traditionally filled by the fairer sex.

‘Women engage and interact in the world in a very different way to men so we wanted to put that message across in a light-hearted, intelligent way,’ says Susan Schaefer, VP of marketing at Corus.

Two 30-second TV spots launching on May 6 involve parodies of typical shows that appear on the newly spawned version of WTN, showing the ludicrous situations which might occur if you were to place a man in these roles intended for women.

‘We are demonstrating what happens when you don’t have a female point of view,’ says Elspeth Lynn, co-creative director at Toronto-based Zig, the agency behind the campaign. ‘We made a conscious decision not to represent women in the creative because we want women to know that they don’t have to look or act in a certain way to relate to the W station.’

The first spot, ‘Stick Woman Anatomy,’ mocks the station’s Sunday Night Sex Show hosted by Sue Johanson, by offering a new version: ‘Sex With Stu.’ Stu answers calls from viewers asking such questions as ‘What’s a G spot?’ which he is unable to answer. One caller asks how he can please his girlfriend, at which point Stu gestures vaguely towards a chart showing a diagram of a stick woman, saying: ‘Start here, go here, down there. Boom, done!’

Similarly, ‘Spruce it Up’ parodies the genre of home decorating shows with a male host who sets about ‘redecorating’ a basement. His efforts involve pushing a huge TV set in front of a wall that’s covered with unsightly cracks and placing a beer cooler on top of a strip of stained carpet. He finally covers up tears in a La-Z-Boy recliner using strips of duct tape. Upon removing his blindfold, the homeowner, Kevin, announces gleefully: ‘Wow! I hardly recognize the place! Love the duct tape re-upholstery.’

Both spots end with the tagline: ‘Imagine television without women,’ and the W logo. They will run on U.S. stations and TV listing channels, as well as on Corus properties.

One billboard poster will launch nationally on May 6 to illustrate the new station brand. A second, due to launch on May 13, relates back to the theme of the TV campaign, asking us to imagine what movies would be like without women. It parodies the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe with her dress being blown up in the wind, by featuring a man with his trench coat being blown up provocatively to reveal suspenders and socks.

A radio campaign along the same lines has been running since April 15. One spot makes use of male voices to say famous lines from movies, originally spoken by women. For example, ‘Scott O’Hara’ parodies Scarlet O’Hara’s line from the movie Gone With the Wind: ‘Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?’ And a print campaign is running in TV listings magazines and newspapers to promote the new identity of the channel.

Canadian humour puts a new spin

on connectivity

Today’s average cellphone does virtually everything but the dishes, but many people still aren’t making full use of all the wireless services on offer.

With this insight in mind, MacLaren McCann, Toronto, contrasted a humorous look at Canadian wit with the timesaving benefit of wireless devices, in a campaign to promote the numerous services offered by Rogers AT&T Wireless.

Two 30-second TV spots, launching nationally in early May, promote the text-messaging and wireless e-mailing capabilities of today’s hi-tech devices. Together, the ads make the point that the services offered by Rogers can enrich your life on a personal level, as well as at work.

‘We are trying to show people that there is a lot more they could be doing with their phones to make their lives easier,’ says Gary Watson, creative director at MacLaren. ‘How many people have found themselves sitting in a meeting wondering why they’re there? We’re making the point that this Rogers wireless service can save you so much time that you’ll have more time to be productive in the workplace.’

‘Meetings,’ shows glimpses of people in different situations, from a guy jogging in a park to a woman in an office building and a guy sitting in the back of a limo. Each of them receives a text-message to indicate that a report has been wirelessly updated. Finally, we see a group of people sitting around a table in a boardroom in silence looking bored, while a voiceover asks: ‘Could being more connected make meetings less necessary?’

‘Canadian Humour’ takes a similar thread, but this time a joke is passed by text-message from phone to phone, with the changing scenery indicating the vast distances it is traveling around the country. The ad ends with the message: ‘Imagine what your phone can do now: messaging and more.’

‘With this spot we took something that Canadians share in common – our sense of humour – to show how wireless services can connect people from coast to coast,’ explains creative director, Chad Borlase.

While the campaign targets consumers across the board, Watson says that it is skewed towards the younger demographic as Rogers is aiming to promote itself as a modern brand with a youthful look.

The campaign is to be continued with four 15-second spots launching later this year, to further promote Rogers’ services. Print and radio are also in the final stages of production.

Urban campaign lures New York singletons

New Yorkers looking for love could find some help on subways, in print and on TV. The city has been blitzed by a $2-million campaign to mark the first major marketing foray of the Canadian dating service, Lavalife, into the Manhattan marketplace.

Toronto-based Lavalife, which was re-branded from its former image as Interactive Media Group in September, has had an interactive presence in New York for 10 years but wanted to remind New Yorkers that this service is available.

Created specifically for Manhattan by Zig in Toronto, a subway and print campaign launched in late April promotes the fun, friendly service offered by the online and phone-in match-making company.

Four executions, aimed at the 18- to-40-year-old urban singleton, consist of funky illustrated characters on a bright red background. Headlines, including, ‘Make your married friends jealous,’ and ‘Be one of those annoying couples you see,’ accompany scenes ranging from a lively nightclub scene to two strangers eyeing each other in the street while their dogs get friendly.

Another, with the tagline, ‘Meet guys who call,’ shows a woman’s contented face surrounded by a circle of men talking on the phone. Each ad directs readers to The first ad ran with a full-page spread in The New York Times in mid-April and will continue to run in newspapers and magazines over the coming weeks.

‘The illustrated animated technique was one we particularly liked,’ says Peter Housley, CEO at Lavalife. ‘We wanted to create an urban, sophisticated feel to get New Yorkers excited about our product.’

Housley says that the campaign may be extended to other urban U.S. markets in the future.

Zig’s TV spots, ‘Sushi’ and ‘Kiss,’ which have already run in Toronto, were also launched in New York cinemas and on TV in mid-April.