Showcase calls ‘checkmate’ on Torontonians for Endgame launch

A grassroots stunt is at the centre of Shaw Media's cross-platform campaign for a new chess-themed drama series.

Commuters stuck in Toronto traffic aren’t the only ones who will be playing a high-stakes game of chess in the coming weeks. Eight-foot-tall black and white king chess pieces have begun popping up in the city’s downtown core to hype the March 14 premiere of new Showcase series Endgame.

The outdoor stunts are part of a four-week campaign conceived and executed by the in-house creative and media teams at Shaw Media, Showcase’s parent company. The branded chess pieces appear as if they’ve been murdered – the white king hanging from a noose and the black king the victim of an apparent stabbing – as part of a cross-promotional effort incorporating a mix of on-air, print, online and out-of-home advertising.

The pieces first appeared on March 10 outside Gabby’s restaurant on King Street, the Black Bull restaurant on Queen Street West, Cafe Diplomatico on College Street and Hey Lucy’s on Bloor Street West.

‘Much of the campaign utilizes traditional media choices that we have found extremely effective in getting our messages across,’ a Shaw Media spokesperson told MiC. ‘However, with such a unique premise to the series, we knew immediately that we wanted to execute a street stunt that would build curiosity and buzz for the series.’

The hour-long drama series is about a chess master named Arkady Balagan (played by actor Shawn Doyle) who solves mysteries. The show’s target demo is adults aged 25 to 54, with a female skew.

On Feb. 28, transit shelter domination blankets depicting Balagan with chess pieces and ‘criminal paraphernalia’ emerging from his head began appearing in Toronto, Kitchener, London and Ottawa. They included the slogan ‘Solving Crime is a Game of Strategy.’

The online elements include expandable floating ads (‘vokens’) on entertainment sites and Print ads will appear on March 14 and run for two weeks following the premiere in the Toronto Star and Metro Toronto newspapers. The on-air promo, a :30 spot starring Doyle, began airing on Showcase, Global and Shaw’s specialty channels in mid-February.