Bell’s toothy icon takes to the waves

Not the airwaves, but the wet ones, in an outdoor campaign for the telco's WiMax service that almost didn't happen.

What do you do when your AOR – in this case, Cossette Montreal – has designed a dynamite outdoor campaign and your brand’s spokesbeaver is poised to vie for the attention of thousands of cottage-bound commuters, but the en route inventory is pretty much zip?

That’s what happened recently when Bell Canada chose a very specific demographic for its WiMax service. ‘Given the approaching summer, and the fact that our target demographic would soon be spending a lot of time outdoors, outdoor advertising emerged as a natural choice in our media plan,’ explains Nicolas Poitras, Bell’s senior director marketing communications for residential services.

But, says Katie Wolf, media manager at Cossette Montreal, ‘after exploring outdoor opportunities along the major transportation routes leading from Toronto, we learned that the out-of-home inventory is extremely limited, and much of the existing space had already been committed to long-term advertisers.’

So Wolf’s team switched its focus from billboards to sailboats, approached media supplier WestPalm Media and voila, Bell’s trademark critter, Gordon, began appearing on the sails of a small fleet of recreational sailboats roving around several lakes in Ontario’s cottage country.

With text touting ‘High Speed Internet now at the cottage!,’ the vessels did trial runs during the Victoria Day weekend and are skedded to sail forth again in July – when the campaign will be supported by radio, direct mail, targeted OOH, magazines and local daily and community newspapers.