BDC puts its ‘Ambitions’ front and centre

Who: Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), with Cossette for strategy and creative; Scouts Honour for production (Brent Foster directing); Outsider, Studio Feather and Septième for post; Cult Nation for sound and music; Cossette Media and Hearts & Science for media.

What: “The Bank of Ambitions,” a new brand platform reflecting BDC’s goal to fulfill its role as a development bank “even more ambitiously” in the years ahead. The positioning is being launched with an integrated campaign called “We’re On It.”

When & Where: The campaign is in market now, running nationally across TV (:30 and :15), supported by out-of-home and radio. The first wave will run until December, with a second wave beginning in the new year.

Why: The campaign is focusing on the “development” aspect of BDC’s name, which CMO Annie Marsolais said is something that distinguishes it from other financial institutions.

It’s also designed to reflect the BDC’s renewed commitment to serving traditionally under-served segments such as Black, Indigenous and women-owned SMEs.

While BDC has high awareness and an established reputation as the bank of entrepreneurs, Marsolais said the goal is to be top-of-mind among SMEs, while increasing awareness of the free content and tools it provides to help their business.

More broadly, the aim is to help the SMEs whose success can positively affect the overall economy, said Marsolais. “We want to help them be more competitive, more productive and address the big challenges of our times.”

How: The campaign’s lead 30-second TV spot provides a literal representation of BDC’s ability to help entrepreneurs break down the various doors they face. It shows a person playing a piano, surrounded by closed doors representing the various obstacles faced by entrepreneurs. As the person plays, the doors begin to open—slowly at first, but then more forcefully as the music reaches a crescendo.

A second spot, set to debut in the next two weeks, will use a similar approach to address the idea of “breaking the glass ceiling,” with a drummer’s pounding sending balls into the air that shatter the glass above. “We did several tissue sessions with different degrees of audacity and boldness, and because our ambitions are so bold themselves, we went all-in,” said Marsolais of the creative approach.

One of the accompanying out-of-home ads features the phase “We’re on it” accompanied by a list of things BDC is “on,” from fulfilling the ambitions of more entrepreneurs, to working with more Black entrepreneurs, to guiding more SMEs as they go green.

Other ambitions? BDC isn’t the first financial services company to seize on “ambition” as a business driver. It has been a central plank in CIBC’s  “Ambitions Made Real” platform for the past year.

“As a development bank that’s fuelled by purpose, our definition of ambition is broader than most,” said Marsolais in response to a question about its use of the word “ambition” in the brand platform. “Every day, our team works to enable more entrepreneurs to build a better, more inclusive and sustainable future for themselves, their communities, and the Canadian economy as a whole.

“This is what drives us—and with the launch of the new brand tagline, we’re showing that we’re just getting started, and that means, in some cases, with some of those [other banks] to support entrepreneurs’ ambitions, with a particular focus on those that are underserved.”

And we quote: “In the coming years, BDC will endeavour to pave the way for even more Canadian entrepreneurs so they have the tools to tackle today’s greatest challenges—and we wanted to focus in particular on underserved business owners. We were inspired by our new vision and felt it was important to communicate our commitment through an updated brand expression and an ad platform that sets the tone for our ambitions.” — Annie Marsolais, chief marketing officer, BDC

Chris Powell