Baffin’s audio-visual love poem to the Canadian outdoors

Who: Baffin Boots and Elemental.

What: A campaign using video creative for the first time in the brand’s 40-year history.

When & Where: The first ad was released in early October, with a fall-themed ad published in late October. Both relied on paid social for distribution.

Why: There are two important backstory elements here: First, the company was acquired by Canada Goose last October. Baffin is run as an independent business, but the CG influence is clear (more below).

Aside from that, Baffin has been reinventing itself as a modern marketing machine over the past couple of years, said Mark Hubner, vice-president, brand and product. “It was very much a manufacturing company, not a sales and marketing company… That was a mindset that we had to change…in order to be able to compete in our space, with the brands and great marketing that is happening.”

Baffin hired Elemental in 2017 and began experimenting with some display advertising in 2018, although this year’s spots are its first foray into original video content. “We wanted more of an emotional connection,” Hubner explains.

How: Rather than the adrenaline-rush vibe of so much outdoor brand advertising, the ads put Baffin boots in the middle of audio-visual love poems to the outdoors—and more specifically the Canadian outdoors. The first ad, a :60, shows that Baffin has products for all seasons, while the second, a :30, is focused on fall.

“I find that there are a lot of brand spots, especially in our space, that you could plug in several different brands and wouldn’t really change the experience for the viewer,” said Hubner. “What I love about the spots is when you watch [them], it naturally slows the heart rate down a little bit.”

The poetry: Both spots rely on mostly fresh, current video for visuals, accompanied by a narrator reciting early 20th century Canadian poetry. The first is “Canada, Stand Fast” by Grant Balfour, while the second is “At Sunrise” by Bliss Carmen.

The Canada Goose effect: The acquisition partly explains the brand’s bigger marketing investment this year. This year’s budget is about double that of 2018, says Hubner. “CG leads by example, and has a wealth of experience to offer in the marketing world—beyond our changes in content storytelling, and digital budgets, our other big shift is evident in our increased investment and resource allocations with respect to PR.”

Quote: “It took a lot of bravery to not just create a hype video like a lot of brands are doing. We created humble hype using what this country gives us every season using words from Canadian poets. What’s more Canadian than that?” —Dustin Brown, partner and head of strategy at Elemental.

David Brown