Hey Ontario: Those are hills, not mountains

Who: Calbridge Homes, with Trigger for strategy and creative; Joe Media for production; Nicole Smith Research for research; Mediology for media.

What: “Settle for More in Calgary,” a campaign by the Calgary-based homebuilder, targeting people in the Greater Toronto and Vancouver areas. It’s the first time in the company’s 45-year history it has aimed advertising at people outside its home market.

When & Where: The campaign is in market in the Toronto and Vancouver areas now, running across connected TV, Youtube, and social.

Why: The campaign has its roots in “Alberta is Calling,” a government initiative to entice skilled workers to the province with the promise of job opportunities, more affordable housing, and access to its natural beauty, said Trigger partner, managing director Geoff Hardwicke.

Alberta’s population grew by more than 184,000 people in the past year, according to Statistics Canada, with the National Bank of Canada’s chief economist Stéfane Marion telling the CBC that home affordability in Calgary and Edmonton is a key reason. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, the median cost of a single detached home in Calgary is $648,000, compared to $1.3 million in Toronto.

“We thought perhaps there was an opportunity to leverage that momentum for Calbridge with a category and regionally specific campaign,” said Hardwicke.

Calbridge had also noted a slight increase in homes being purchased by “out-of-province” buyers last year. Trigger did some consumer research to better understand the types of people who would be willing to move west, and determine what drivers can move them from consideration to purchase.

The campaign is specifically targeting people with a degree of knowledge about what the city has to offer, such as open space, family communities, and proximity to the mountains, said Hardwicke. The research helped inform the media targeting, which needed to be specific to Calbridge. “[O]ur objective wasn’t to get people to move to Calgary, it was to get people who are considering moving to Calgary to buy a Calbridge home,” he said.

How: The campaign is anchored by a 30-second spot called “Mountains” that takes direct aim at Toronto. It shows two former Torontonians, “Vicky” and “Matt,” talking about their decision to leave the city for Calgary. Playing on Torontonians’ belief that there’s no better place to live in Canada, the ad presents the couple (and their dog) as if they arein witness protection.

They are shown only in silhouette, and their voices have been electronically altered as they talk about being glad they came to Calgary from Toronto, where they couldn’t afford a back yard for their dog. “In Ontario they call things mountains… but they’re really just hills,” adds Matt.

It was informed by the personal experience of senior copywriter Andrew Payne, who moved to Calgary this year after spending the previous decade in Toronto. “The out-of-reach housing prices in Toronto were definitely a big reason to move away,” he said.

And we quote: “All we needed to do is point out that, given the market economy, you can get the home of your dreams with Calbridge Homes.” — Nicole Ziemann, managing director, sales and marketing, Calbridge Homes


Chris Powell