Interac’s black Christmas

A holiday spin on "Be in the Black" aims to show how smarter spending can lead to a happier January.

Some Canadians may be grumbling at the fact that people are already talking about the holidays, but Interac is looking ahead to January by showing that the season is more joyous when you think of being debt-free.

The “Merry January” campaign, by Zulu Alpha Kilo, is being supported with video spots, as well as OOH, digital and print ads that put a holiday spin on the “Be in the Black” platform with holiday references and an “ugly sweater” knitted look.

The first video, running on TV and in cinema, shows a classic holiday toy store come alive with dolls, nutcrackers and stuffed animals singing a new version of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” when a shopper decides to pay with credit.

There is also a pair of videos running online that show a family gathered for the holidays and putting new, debt-conscious lyrics to classic carols. Media Experts will handle media on the campaign, which launches Nov. 6 and runs nationally until Boxing Week, with Tank handling adaptation for Quebec.

Andrea Danovitch, director of marketing and brand strategy at Interac, says the mix of clear-cut messages in OOH and print that consumers have responded to positively, and the more playful tone of the videos, will allow the campaign to resonate with all of its different audiences.

The high-spend holiday season is an important one for the company, she says. Interac’s past holiday campaigns featured “Holiday Bill,” a living credit card bill that followed consumers around being a nuisance well after the holidays were over, but Danovitch says “Merry January” takes that idea and gives it a bit more holiday cheer.

“Those campaigns were a great reminder of what could be waiting on the other side of the holidays, but I think this campaign marries that idea more directly to the spirit of the season,” she says. “Holidays are an easy time to hit that slippery slope and go a bit overboard, but we’re not anti-spending. We just believe it will be a less stressful and more joyous season when you aren’t losing sleep about bills pilling up, so you can focus on what the holidays are really about.”

In addition to speaking to Canadians’ financial sense, Danovitch says “Be in the Black” and the “Merry January” campaign have an emotional element by focusing on the ways alleviating the stress of debt can lead to a better, happier life.

“The ‘Be in the Black’ platform gave us a voice for people to sit up and take notice of who we are and what we stand for, but it has a lot of legs to take it in so many different directions,” she says. “The work has really set us up nicely for the coming year, especially with all the reports on the economy and rising debt levels. We would very much like to have a stronger voice and show both the financial and emotional benefits of paying with your own money.”