CASSIES Bronze: Scotiabank demonstrates the power of free

The bank surprised movie-goers with free tickets and transactions in a variety of ways, such as hidden camera stunts.


Sustained Success

Situation Analysis: Launched in 2007 as a co-venture with Cineplex, the Scene program was Canada’s first movie loyalty rewards program, allowing consumers to earn points on everyday purchases made with Scotiabank Scene debit and Visa cards, redeemable for free movies, movie snacks and more. While the co-branded Scene program had high brand awareness in the Canadian market, it was largely attributed to Cineplex – most notably via its free and easy-to-attain “black card.” This had resulted in comparatively low awareness for Scotiabank’s affiliation, leading Scotiabank to seriously contemplate whether its significant investment of time, money and resources in this program was worth it. Stretching goals were set for the program: to increase Scene debit by 42% and Scene Visa by 88%, targeting new-to-bank customers among the coveted 18 to 34 demo.

Insight & Strategy: Research determined that consumers saw the Scene debit and Visa cards as “upgrades” to Cineplex’s black card due to their higher earn rate, a feature that could be turned into the compelling benefit of, “You may never pay for a movie again.” The Scene debit was chosen to feature because debit rewards were still relatively rare in the Canadian market and debit as a payment vehicle was appealing to a younger audience because of the extra earning power of day-to-day purchases and younger age qualification restrictions. From the bank’s perspective, debit cards had greater usage, provided non-interest revenues and were key to customer retention.

Execution: Running in two phases from November 2011 to October 2013, Scene’s value proposition was initially brought to life via the buying out of a multiplex – every seat, bag of popcorn, box of candy and drink – for the premiere of The Avengers. Twenty hidden cameras captured the reactions of movie-goers when they were told their transaction would be free, along with their reaction in the theatre when told Scotiabank was behind their free night at the movies. From this, two television spots and two pre-roll videos were developed, along with OOH, print and POS executions. A digital buy included innovative Xbox and connected TV placements. The creative was evolved for 2013 with new content for cinema and pre-roll, putting moviegoers into the scene as a full movie crew descended upon shocked customers, adjusting their hair and make-up and giving direction to the “Cineplex employee” to adjust their line to “that will be free.” A national movie tour that screened free movies in unique outdoor venues together with a Facebook contest amplified the “Feeling of Free” message.

Results: Since the launch of the campaign, debit card acquisition increased 47.2% and credit card acquisition increased 52.1% versus the pre-campaign period, while successfully attracting younger consumers (ages 18 to 34) to the bank. The top six months for account acquisition in the seven-year history of the Scene program have been during the campaign periods: July to September (2012 and 2013).

Cause & Effect: The annual growth numbers are driven by the four-month campaign periods (June to September) where on average acquisition increases are approximately 10 points higher than the remainder of the year. As this is a debit and credit card, no discounting or sale was provided as these are free services for qualified sign-ups.


Client: Scotiabank
VP marketing, personal banking: Jeff Marshall
Director & head, brand & media strategy; marketing planning: Lisa Hartley
Agency: Bensimon Byrne
CD: Joseph Bonnici
Associate CDs: Chris Harrison, Hayes Steinberg
Group account director: Steve Groh
Business lead: Amanda Burgess
Project managers: Jordan Lane, Jeffrey Gougeon
Media planners: Leanne Plummer, Angie Genovese