While sports betting isn’t for everyone, for those who do partake, much of the thrill can often be found in the rush that comes with waiting for a favourable result to pan out. After all, when pretty much anything can happen, that feeling of suspense that puts viewers on the edge of their seats makes eventual success all the sweeter.
This is an insight that Canadian online sports betting company, Sports Interaction, is well aware of. But reflecting this to the country required more than just making a simple statement. Enter Juniper Park\TBWA. Together, the two created a campaign that delivers that same sense of unpredictability - comedically dramatising the endless story possibilities of a halftime snack run. From battling a (stuffed) beaver, to getting a hockey hair make-over, to launching a football into orbit, the spot has been created with variable scene options in mind, and with the purpose of shifting outcomes from one viewing to the next - mimicking the surprise inherent to betting in an innovative way.
Directed by Steam Films' Matt Atkinson, audiences will notice many small set and scene differences peppered throughout the story, which will further develop as the campaign rolls out into its next phase, and digital iterations amplify this variable format even further.
To learn more, LBB’s Josh Neufeldt sat down with Juniper Park CCO Jenny Glover, managing director Liam Steuart, group account director Mathieu Khaled, senior copywriter Robert Cappuccitti, associate creative director Gira Moin, VP, director of planning Sohail Bhatia and Sports Interaction CMO Katelin Bernard, discussing how this creative execution came to pass, and what it took to bring it to life.
LBB> What was the brief for this campaign, and what initial ideas came to mind?
> Juniper Park\TBWA is our creative agency of record, and was selected for their strategic capabilities and position as a ‘disruptor’ in the industry. Sports Interaction sought to find a partner who could support us to ‘act differently’ versus the competition - creative, witty and cleverly efficient in our communication - to break through the cluttered space.Juniper Park
> We wanted to help Sports Interaction stand out from the sea of sameness present in sports betting ads. Betting should be fun, thrilling, and a little surprising. The goal was to create something that lived up to that - a campaign that was equal parts disruptive and intriguing.
LBB> The approach of using a bunch of ideas that can create multiple ad outcomes is very clever. How did this come to pass, and what made this the best approach for the campaign?
Juniper Park> The idea comes straight from the actual experience of sports betting, and how the thrill of what could happen and the many possible outcomes are what makes it so compelling. This inspired us to explore concepts which would bring this feeling to life for our end consumer through our creative. And, the added benefit of this was that it generated seemingly endless content, preventing ad fatigue.
LBB> Of all the sports-related settings you could have chosen, why a halftime snack run?
Juniper Park> This was a very practical solution. We needed a sports-agnostic setting that still felt sports related. Given that sport is most often consumed on a couch (with friends and snacks), we used this as our canvas and built our story out from there.
LBB> What was the writing process like? How many ideas did you keep, and were there any good ideas that didn’t make the final cut?
Juniper Park> The writing process was really collaborative and much looser than most productions. The team wrote and wrote and wrote some more, collaborating with the director throughout. As a result, there are endless scenes in the bottom drawer, including a man in a green unitard doing some wonderful amateur greenscreen effects.
The key to this process, however, is client trust; a client that allowed us to relentlessly push and workshop scenes until the last possible minute, and then again on the day of the shoot. We couldn’t have done this without their trust!
LBB> The spots are directed by Matt Atkinson. What made him the right person for the job?
Juniper Park> One of the best things about Matt is his keenness to work outside of the traditional production comfort zones. He’s always willing to try something new, break a few rules, and embrace the looseness of social filmmaking. For this specifically, he really got into the weeds crafting the scenes and the humour, and was 100% perfect.
LBB> What was production like? Do you have any anecdotes from shooting?
Juniper Park> It was a very interesting shoot. With the number of scenes we wanted to capture in one day, we needed to quickly lean into what was working, and immediately pivot from anything that wasn’t. Some of the funniest moments were entirely unplanned, and most of the interaction and VO evolved on set, making it all the more fun and exciting.
LBB> As the campaign continues, digital iterations will help amplify this variable format further. As such, will this be something you continue to create new scenes for?
Juniper Park> Yes! The beauty of this concept is that it gives us endless flexibility to refresh the content. Specifically in digital, we are set up extremely well for A/B testing and maximising relevancy for our different audiences. This campaign was made for endless optimisation opportunities. We have created a template we hope to learn from, and new scenes are definitely up for consideration.
Katelin> We are always thinking ahead to key sporting and culturally relevant moments that we can adapt and update our campaign to reflect! The magic is in the ever-evolving storyline, and we love the adaptability to reflect what is happening in sports and customers' lives.
LBB> What challenges have you faced during this project? How did you overcome them?
Juniper Park> The biggest challenge was the sheer amount of content we wanted to capture in one day of shooting. But in the end, everyone bought in and embraced the format - from our client to the entire production team.
Katelin> While we were extremely passionate about reflecting true Canadian moments, using production and personalities to reflect this was not the simplest task. We’re grateful that everyone involved in this campaign truly reflects the Canadian pride that we feel always at Sports Interaction.
LBB> Since its launch, how have people reacted to the campaign?
Juniper Park> Early reaction has been extremely strong. Anecdotally, we do feel we’ve met one primary goal of standing out from the crowd. And, we are continuing to monitor engagement to ensure we optimise campaign engagement.
Katelin> The response has been extremely positive, and a real breath of fresh air! We are proud of the campaign and look forward to hearing customer feedback and measuring the results post campaign closure.
LBB> Did you have a favourite scene or scene combination?
Juniper Park> We don’t have a favourite scene per say, but one of the most fun to shoot was the baby scene. The effect was mocked up on our monitors as we shot the scene, and watching Matt’s earnest direction of a grown man in a baby stroller was pretty amusing.
Katelin> Each scene is so unique that it is hard to pick just one. I love that we grounded the campaign with the idea of friends watching from home, and the flexibility of changing the beginning and ending of scenes really added to the fun idea that you never know which way it is going to go!
LBB> Is there anything you’d like to add?
Juniper Park> We’re always trying to push teams to try new things. A Lee Clow quote that TBWA lives by is ‘do the brave thing’, and we’re always trying to get the teams to try new things that are obviously right, relevant, and smart for the brand; new ways to innovate, think, and as with this case, new ways to work and produce. If we continue to circle in our comfort zones and hold onto our creative blankies, we’ll never create work that breaks through and disrupts.
Katelin> Sports Interaction is passionately Canadian, and we are proud that our campaign reflects the clever wit of Canadian sports.