Dentsu goes 100% viral with Christmas rant for

Bouncing off the insight that hordes of men feel horribly pressured at this time of year to come up with desirable gifts for significant others, a Dentsu Canada team crafted a series of hilarious, Rick Mercer-calibre rants and posted them on YouTube plus a slew of other sites.

The atmosphere may be serene at the scores of independent spas across North America networked on But the four spots Dentsu Canada came up with for the Toronto-HQ’d chain’s Christmas campaign is anything but gentle. In each of four versions of the exclusively digital initiative, a harried, hapless and extremely profane dude vents about how victimized and helpless he feels when trying to select and shop for gifts that will go over well at home.

‘The insight for this actually came from the president of WaySpa, Jeremy Creed, who told us that there’s always a landslide of downloads of spa gift certificates on Christmas morning,’ Chris Pastirik tells MiC. In his official capacity as strategic catalyst at the Toronto Dentsu agency, he played a major role in one of the funniest and most effective viral campaigns to come down the pike so far. But he also credits creative catalyst Glen Hunt with being the lead creative on the WaySpa spots, and account director Natalie Vonlanthen-Choi.

‘We’re not actually trying to change the positioning of spas with this. It’s a specific initiative that went after male shoppers. At the outset, he says, ‘we talked about what it’s like to go to the mall at the eleventh hour, when the place is loaded with guys with a look on their face like deer in the headlights.’

That insight was the inspiration for four test executions, which were originally expected to be pared down to one. But Pastirik says ‘when we showed them around the agency, everyone had their favourites, so we ended up going with all four.’ Each version speaks to a different – evidently nightmarish – dudes’ dilemma. One focuses on last-minute shopping at the only place that’s still open, which is a gas station. Another talks about the agony of buying inappropriate gifts, and a third, he says, ‘is from a poor guy who just completely screwed up and found nothing.’ The fourth spot, which also arose directly from client-supplied info, focuses on downloading coupons for luxury spa experiences as a way to top up other gifts a guy has the sinking sensation may not be well received.

Although turning the spots into radio ads was considered, Pastirik said the ultimate decision was ‘to go 100% viral,’ rolling out the spots to YouTube and more than a dozen advertising-focused sites over the past week and a half, as well as emailing them directly to many members of the influentsia to create buzz. Uploads will be tracked and measured after the campaign concludes in late December but, at press time, he said it was still too early to say how many people are accessing the spots.

Another unusual aspect of Dentsu’s work for WaySpa is that both uncensored and profanity-bleeped versions of the rants were prepared and posted. Pastirik says it was ‘just logical to give people who might worry about being offended another option’ for enjoying what might just go down as the digital treat of the 2006 holiday season.