Royal Ontario Museum picks BHLA as masterbrand AOR

In a one-year assignment, the agency has been tasked with promoting the museum as an international attraction.

Broken Heart Love Affair has won a one-year assignment with the Royal Ontario Museum to develop the brand’s international platform as its masterbrand agency of record.

“There’s a really big opportunity here for the ROM to be a huge, cultural icon not just in Toronto, but in the world,” says Denise Rossetto, partner and CCO at Broken Heart Love Affair. “People are aware of the ROM internationally, but we want to take it a step further.”

BHLA won the work through an RFP process and are expected to get started on the assignment in April, according to Bev Hammond, BHLA’s chief business officer. The RFP began after Lori Davison took over as the ROM’s CMO last August after six years leading marketing for SickKids Foundation – making her very familiar with BHLA co-founders Jason Chaney and Carlos Moreno, who helped create the “VS.” campaign during their time at Cossette (though Davison tells strategy she recused herself from the selection process).

BT/A remains the agency of record for the ROM, and will continue to work on marketing for its individual exhibitions. BHLA’s masterbrand mandate, on the other hand, is to “help transform the ROM and create the new brand,” Rossetto adds, by heightening awareness and enriching engagement with the museum.

“I think the ROM already has all of the things it needs to succeed on the global stage: the exhibits, the objects, the desire and the passion. I think what we need to do now is market it in a way that’s as amazing as what it has to offer,” says Rossetto. “We need to create a brand that’s as exciting as what the ROM actually is.”

Lifelong Crush, BHLA’s consumer-experience agency, will also be involved in the project.

While a key part of the transformation involves boosting awareness of the ROM’s brand on the global stage, Rossetto says that BHLA will also try to tease out the more emotional aspects of the brand in its work.

“The ROM is very cerebral right now. You can learn a lot, but there’s also emotion behind it,” she says. “We really want to bring that forward to attract people who may not have been attracted to the more cerebral part.”

“Toronto gets visitors from all over the world,” adds Hammond. “It’s really important that the ROM be the place they need to see, go home and talk about.”