RBC’s deeper dive into film

The brand's marketing evolves with new doc spots featuring Team RBC golfers sharing the sport's challenges.

Losing a father, battling alcoholism, growing up in a poor, working-class family — these are the personal trials that some golfers from Team RBC share in honest, raw and emotional documentaries that mark an “evolution” of the brand’s marketing and investment in online and social.

“We haven’t gone this deep in previous years,” says Matt McGlynn, senior director of brand marketing at RBC, of the brand’s efforts around The Canadian Open golf tournament, which takes place this week.

While the previous approach (which involved getting its team of 12 golfers to raise funds on social media for kids through its “Golf4Kids” program) was effective, RBC decided to go deeper and “tell their stories and really get some brand attribution in the way they operate, and the values they have.”

“This is our opportunity to tell more of their backstory and get a little more personal.”

So far, the brand has created two 10-minute documentaries that showcase archived family footage, interviews with family members and the players themselves (with a third still being developed), as well as 10 shorter vignettes to complement these. All of the content is being housed on YouTube and a dedicated digital Video Clubhouse.

What set the brand off to create more of these long-form documentaries and shorter online videos was the success of a doc it created last year with the help of director Kevin Foley (who also led this year’s creative). The short film, which looks at RBC Team player Jason Day and his rise to the top of the golf ranks, is called “Never Say Die” and has tracked nearly half a million online views since last September’s launch.

“We need to show value,” McGlynn says. “There is this genuine interest with players, what they do and who they are, especially among an affluent demographic. We really made sure that we had an overarching theme (raw, emotional player stories) to make sure things were pulled together tighter.”

The brand isn’t all emotional storytelling though. It’s also experimenting with new 360-degree videos and virtual reality technology at this year’s Canadian Open as a sort of “test-and-learn” for RBC’s future marketing plans, says McGlynn. It worked with its golf-activation agency Wasserman to create three virtual reality videos that people at the tournament can experience through VR goggles when visiting the RBC engagement zone. People at home can view the behind-the-scenes 360 video by watching the YouTube spot below.

“[VR] is becoming more prevalent in the experiential space. It’s important for us to be stretching ourselves and learning the newest technology,” says McGlynn.

“Golf for us is a huge North American play,” he adds of the brand’s heavy involvement in the sport. “South of the border it’s more about awareness, and in Canada it’s more about brand definition because we have the awareness here. Golf obviously skews a little bit higher. It’s a great opp for us to speak to a different audience that our other initiatives like the Olympics may not hit.”