With a new name, BGC Canada launches awareness campaign

Who: BGC Canada (formerly Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada) with Round for creative, and media by Media Kitchen.

What: A new English and French campaign, “No. More. Barriers.” It’s the 120-year-old organization’s first national campaign since formally introducing its new BGC Canada brand identity on April 1.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week across BCG’s social channels and donated media. “We’re trying to secure as much pro bono [inventory] as we can,” said BGC Canada’s vice-president of marketing and development, Rachael MacKenzie-Neill.

Why: BGC Canada faces a challenge that’s endemic to so many clubs across the country: It’s well-known, but not known well, said MacKenzie-Neill. “I think you could ask most people if they’ve heard of a Boys and Girls Club, and they’d say ‘Yeah, I’ve heard of those guys.’ We’re really everywhere, but if you ask people to say what exactly we do, they just don’t know.”

She describes “No. More. Barriers” as an awareness campaign that possesses the usual goals of brand awareness and understanding, but with a specific aim of putting BGC Canada on the radar of key stakeholders such as government and corporate Canada.

“We’re no different than any other industry sector that’s looking at the marketplace and saying ‘We’ve got to figure out how to break through and at the very least get people to take notice of us and want to find out more.’ That would be the creative starting point,” she said.

How: Shot on location at BGC Canada clubs, the video features club users of varying ages staring directly into camera, accompanied by animated phrases such as “I fear nothing,” “I conquer barriers” and “Barriers don’t define me” that were directly inspired by member testimonials.

The spot ends with a series of images of BGC Canada users over the campaign tagline and organization’s slogan, “Opportunity changes everything.” The organization’s members also worked with Toronto music school MJMS to create the ad’s soundtrack, using handclaps, foot stomps, etc. (see the making-of video here).

About the rebrand: Round first started working with BGC Canada in January 2020, conducting a deep dive into the brand that led to the rebranding that debuted earlier this year. “Like all great brands, we wanted to deliver on the promise of the organization versus putting something out there and hoping we lived up to it,” said MacKenzie-Neill. “The elephant in the room was the name, for all sorts of reasons: Boys and Girls Clubs is a 120-year-old name, so no matter how you sliced it, it felt dated.”

The previous name not only failed to reflect the fact that BGC Canada provides services to people into their 20s, it did not feel welcoming to all members of the community it serves, she added. “We needed to find a way to move forward in a way that was inclusive for everybody,” said MacKenzie-Neill.

BGC Canada serves more than 200,000 youth across the country, with programs ranging from healthy active living to learning and career development, leadership and parenting programs. Between 35-40% of its users range in age from 13 to 20.

“When you start contemplating the way we are helping older youth in our clubs, it’s everything from leadership development to STEM education to getting you across the finish line of high school if that’s proving to be a challenge,” said MacKenzie-Neill. “It’s a whole host of amazing programs that very much cater to older youth.”

And we quote: “[The campaign] is a tilt towards impact: Stop trying to focus on everything we do and focus on what the result is. We do so many things that we’ve been busy trying to tell [people] everything we do. Then we moved to trying to talk more about what the issues are, and how clubs help.” — Rachael MacKenzie-Neill, vice-president of marketing and development, BGC Canada

Chris Powell