The YMCA continues to shine by helping people overcome obstacles

Who: YMCA of Greater Toronto, with Outpost379 for strategy, creative and media; Scouts Honour for production (directed by Kevin Foley).

What: “Obstacles 2.0,” a new campaign on the “Shine On” platform that spotlights the various ways Y programs and support can help people overcome life challenges.

When & Where: The campaign is live now, anchored by an anthemic 2.5-minute film online, with a 30-second version for TV (see the :30 below), along with radio, digital, and out of home.

Why: Launched in 2021, the “Shine On” platform is intended to show how the YMCA is much more than a gym—that it offers a wide range of programs and services that can help people “shine.”

Last year’s ad campaign, “Obstacles,” focused on how the non-profit can help people overcome emotional obstacles exacerbated by the pandemic.

This year, the YMCA and Outpost379 spotlight homelessness, employment struggles, and physical and mental health issues.

“Every day, we see people of all ages accessing our programs and overcoming challenges—from homelessness and unemployment, to learning a new skill and gaining confidence,” said Nora Gorman, senior vice-president, marketing and communications, YMCA of Greater Toronto. “While obstacles may appear different for everyone, this campaign brings to life the Y’s vision of vibrant communities where everyone can shine.”

How: The first half of the anchor spot shows various scenarios depicting people from a wide range of backgrounds and ages coming face-to-face with their challenges—a young man who can’t find a job, another who loses his home, a young girl struggling to make friends at school.

Halfway through—as the song “This Will be the Day,” by Lady Bri begins to rise—the characters are shown going to a YMCA to access programs that help them overcome their challenges. The young girl gets new confidence after taking karate classes, and the young man looking for work gets help with applying for, and getting, a job.

“When I look back at ‘Obstacles 2.0’—the work, the characters, the emotion—there was a resiliency that was inspiring,” said the director, Kevin Foley. “The feeling of overcoming a life challenge and breaking through the other side is our campaign’s anchor. This campaign is a celebration of what support can do. I love that sentiment and optimism.”

And we quote: “At the YMCA of Greater Toronto, we recognize the importance of providing an inclusive and supportive environment to help people shine. And this year’s brand campaign showcases that.” —Nora Gorman, senior VP, marketing and communications, YMCA of Greater Toronto

David Brown