BDC gives entrepreneurs the strength to move on

The national development bank doesn't sugarcoat the challenges business owners are facing in its latest campaign.
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BDC is not trying to hide the fact that entrepreneurs have an uncertain road ahead of them in its latest campaign, instead aiming to give them the motivation to persevere through the challenges they might be facing.

The Crown Corporation and national development bank, tasked with supporting Canadian small-and-medium-sized businesses, has launched a new campaign, “Here For What’s Ahead,” a phrase the organization says it will be using many months from now, thanks to ongoing economic uncertainty, according to CMO Annie Marsolais.

Marsolais says 2020 is an unprecedented year for entrepreneurs, as they face uncertainty in both their professional and personal lives, so the organization was compelled to pivot away from previous approaches that focused on success stories of BDC clients. Even though that web series did focus on businesses that made it through “critical moments,” many SMEs have been hit hard and may be feeling like this moment may be a bit tougher than the rest: according to the organization, 76% of SMEs are reporting a decline in revenues and 39% admit they’re taking on more debt to get by.

The latest creative features concerned faces of small business owners across industries, ranging from big city offices to warehouses and construction sites, often gazing into the distance. The English creative features a cover of Sam Cooke’s “Keep Movin’ on,” and Marsolais says the song and its refrain to “keep moving on,” perfectly captures perseverance during the pandemic. In French, a piano version of Québec artist Pierre Lapointe’s hit “Deux par deux rassemblés” achieves the same effect. 

BDC’s campaign is informed by insights from its own report on how entrepreneurs have been handling the pandemic. It identified getting finances in order by reducing operating costs, controlling cash flow and setting up contingency plans as priorities for entrepreneurs.

It is also shot in stark black and white, an organizational first, which along with heartstring-tugging tunes, is part of an effort to build more emotional resonance with entrepreneurs. According to Marsolais, the approach for this campaign was to show a more human side of business as it connects with its target audience – acknowledging the business struggles that weigh heavy on them, but encouraging the personal fortitude they pride themselves on.

“What we’ve seen over the last few months, is that [entrepreneurs] are a different breed,” she says. “They keep showing how resilient they are. Despite the crisis, they keep looking forward to see what’s ahead.”

The campaign, led by Cossette, is comprised of bilingual 30- and 60-second TV spots, as well radio, preroll, social media and displays ads, which will be in market until March 2021.

BDC’s ad spend is a bit lower this year, Marsolais says, as it’s reviewing its assets, with airport and OOH spending in particular being dialled back due to the current circumstances.