Canadian Film Fest taps an undead star

The ad by JWT features the trials and tribulations of a Canadian zombie trying to make it as an actor.

After an apologetic actor dressed as a Mountie brings a shoot to a standstill thanks to his frozen rifle, Antoine Zombé, the undead star of a buzzy new ad promoting the Canadian Film Fest, starts into his story of how he turned his too-nice persona into a successful acting career.

“If you look at me, you see a successful zombie. Even though I am an actual zombie, believe me, it wasn’t easy getting to the top. Look at me – I’m Canadian,” Zombé says to the camera, as he holds a bowl of brains topped with maple syrup.

The online ad plays on Canadian stereotypes (a filmmaker shouts “less polite Canadian, more zombie!” during Zombé’s early attempts at acting), and follows the success of the undead actor after he “digs deep” and uses his advantage of being an actual zombie, eventually landing choice roles top-line zombie films like Resting in Pieces and Eating Private Bryan.

The idea for the ad came from the desire to demonstrate the struggles and unique challenges faced by Canadians who want to make it in the industry, said Bern Euler, director and founder of the Canadian Film Fest.

When consulting with JWT, the agency that made the ad, they decided to make the spot unique by focusing on the trials and tribulations of a Canadian zombie trying to make it as an actor.

At the end of the spot, Zombé says he chooses to stay in Canada to make great films, even with his wide success. This message – that the festival screens not just any Canadian film, but great Canadian films – is one that Euler wanted to make sure came across in the ad.

“The fact that they happen to be Canadian is the big bonus…at the end of the day,” Euler said.

The ad, which runs just under three minutes, has received over 38,000 views on YouTube in just over two weeks, and was chosen by the U.S. magazine Adweek as its “Ad of the Day” on March 17.

The decision to run the ad online, rather than pushing for a television spot, was part of a plan to leverage social media to target the ad to specific groups, Euler said. The longer format meant the festival could also be more creative with the ad, which is important for the audience the festival wants to market to, Euler said.

“We are trying to bring in the most creative people in Canada, so let’s really reach for something,” said Euler of his conversations with JWT about the ad.

The Canadian Film Festival runs from March 20 until March 22.