Ontario Racing ‘plays through’ in new campaign

Who: Juniper Park\TBWA and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Commission, with PHD (media), Married to Giants (production), Wingman VFX (editing, post-production) and Apollo Studios (sound).

What: “Break the Routine,” a new integrated campaign for Ontario Racing. It is Juniper Park\TBWA’s first work for Ontario Racing since winning the business last year.

When & Where: The campaign broke April 29, with an extensive media buy from PHD Toronto that includes TV and online ads, plus a cinema campaign and digital screens in lobby areas. There are also audio spots on Spotify, and a double-page spread in lifestyle magazines including Food & Drink and Toronto Life.

Digital directs users to a dedicated landing page that presents information intended to further break down barriers to entry for newbie racetrack visitors (such as a guide on how to bet). The plan is to introduce a group offer redeemable at racetracks across the province.

Why: Research commissioned by the OLG shows that few people go to the horse races for the first time by themselves, either because it’s too intimidating or simply not top-of-mind. The campaign is targeting “organizers,” the people within families or groups of friends who typically plan group events.

The creative insight is that planning group events is stressful, with organizers fearful of settling on an activity that isn’t enjoyable—leading them to fall back on tried and true activities like golfing, bowling, the movies, etc.

“[Horse racing] is not everyone’s go-to activity,” says Juniper Park\TBWA’s chief creative officer Graham Lang. “People are kind of stuck in their routines when it comes to what they do in their spare time. We wanted to juxtapose those routines with the excitement and thrill of horse racing.”

How: The video creative shows people engaged in typical group activities being interrupted by horses and jockeys thundering through the venue. The DPS features a group of horses and their jockeys “playing through” on a golf course.

And we quote: “A lot of [advertising] speaks about the thrill of horse racing and the things you can do while you’re at the races—the food, the cocktails and the energy. We wanted to move away from that and do something based on human behaviour. It’s all well and good telling people ‘We’ve got a lovely restaurant and we serve great food,’ but we wanted to give people a reason to break their routine.” —Graham Lang, chief crative officer Juniper Park\TBWA.

Chris Powell