Becel to debut The Heart at Oscars

The Unilever brand worked with actor/director Sarah Polley to develop a short film for broadcast during the Academy Awards, the centrepiece of a multi-faceted, health-focused media campaign.

It’s not often that Canadians get hype commercials of their own for big simulcast events such as the Academy Awards, but that will be the case March 7 when Unilever brand Becel debuts its short film, The Heart, during the broadcast.

The film was directed by Canadian actor and director Sarah Polley (Away from Her) and produced in association with BravoFACT and Film Farm Productions, with media handled by PHD in Toronto. Two minutes in length, The Heart will compose the entirety of a commercial break during the broadcast.

Rather than promote Becel directly with branding and product placement, the film is meant to inspire women to care for their hearts, which is the message behind the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Becel-sponsored ‘Heart Truth’ campaign, says Joanna Janisse, account director at PHD, a sentiment that Margaret McKellar, brand building manager, Becel, echoes.

‘Our brand has always been about heart health, and it’s really important to us to drive awareness around the issue,’ she says. ‘So our campaign this year was much more about getting women engaged and to getting them to understand that they need make themselves a priority in terms of hearth health. So we centred our campaign on a short film, using the power of film and storytelling to really drive emotional engagement and to get women to stop and start thinking about themselves first.’

The ongoing ‘Heart Truth’ campaign – on which the film is based – will be promoted in the Oscars pre-show by eTalk Daily host Tanya Kim, who will wear a red dress (a signature of the campaign) designed by Canadian designer Andy Thé Ahn. The dress will be woven into the show with a ‘making of’ vignette that follows Thé Ahn as he designs the dress and speaks of his inspiration behind it.

A separate execution was created for Quebec, with an entirely different film commissioned and directed by Pascale Bussières, that will air during French-language cinematic awards show Les Jutra.

The English-language film and eTalk special are currently being promoted by CTV and will continue to be promoted on the channel after the Oscars with an ad, created by Toronto-based Capital C, that drives viewers to the Becel Heart Truth Facebook page ($1 will be donated to the Heart and Stroke foundation for every new fan added to the page). A media campaign using the film will start directly after the Academy Awards broadcast including placement in the digital pre-show at Cineplex theatres and an online buy that includes video ad unit placements on YouTube, VideoEgg, CTV pre-roll and Facebook.

The ‘Heart Truth’ campaign is also being promoted in an 11-month advertorial series with Canadian Living Magazine, in which two women are given heart-health makeovers and followed over the campaign period.