Canadian Film Fest escapes clichés

The Canadian Film Fest is a small, non-profit festival devoted to the celebration, promotion and advancement of Canadian filmmaking talent.

The festival takes place in Toronto, which also happens to play host to one of the world's biggest film festivals: the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). JWT needed to make the 2015 Canadian Film Fest stand out from the film festival crowd in a unique, target-relevant way, with limited resources.

When it comes to movies (particularly Hollywood blockbusters) the sad truth is that cliché and formulaic approaches are what sell best. And because film enthusiasts see a lot of movies — the good, but also the bad and the ugly — they see a lot of unoriginal, clichéd ones. They seek, but do not always get fresh, original, independently-minded films.

To demonstrate to film enthusiasts that this was the festival for them, JWT created a campaign that turned Hollywood's conventions on their heads.

It invited the audience to "Escape the Cliché," beginning with a two-minute cinema launch spot, which aptly appeared ahead of the very types of movies it aimed to create an alternative to. The spot, titled "Academy of the Cliché" featured a fictitious filmmaking school and its head instructor, passionately teaching the art and science of film cliché.

A quad of radio spots, "Cops," "RomCom," "SciFi" and "Slasher," exposed the lack of originality in four of the industry's key genres and offered the festival as an alternative. Finally, contextually-relevant in-theatre posters highlighted the movie world's lack of novelty by turning well-known blockbuster names against themselves.

2015 was the festival's most successful year with more than 5,000 people attending the event and selling out all screenings and panel discussions, and the industry series events reached capacity during the festival's four-day run.

Online impressions totalled nearly 450,000 — growing 33% from 2014 — and split nearly equal between unique and returning visitors.

The Canadian Film Fest was recognized by Cannes, making the shortlist for all four radio spots.