Lily & the Snowman

Brand Content (SILVER)
Building Brand Equity (BRONZE)

Client Credits: Cineplex Entertainment
Cineplex Entertainment
Clients: Susan Mandryk, Peter Furnish, Darren Solomon, Maxine Chapman, Laura Mingail,
Sarah Van Lange, Justine Melman

Agency Credits: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Agency: Zulu Alpha Kilo
Chief Creative Officer: Zak Mroueh
Executive Creative Director: Allen Oke
Associate Creative Director: Noel Fenn, Andrew Caie
Art Director: Guilherme Bermejo
Writer: Nick Doerr
Agency Producer: Tara Handley
Account Team: Mike Sutton, Roy Gruia, Laura Robinson, Winnie Hsiao
Strategic Planner: Ebrahim El Kalza
Animation: Hornet Inc.
Directors: Dan & Jason, Hyesung Park
Producer: Desiree Stavracos
Rep: Hesty Reps, Lisa Batke
Audio/Music House: Vapor Music
Audio Director: Joey Serlin, Brendan Quinn
Producer: Kailee Nowosad
Engineer: Julian Rudd
Music Licensing: Heather Gardner
Song: Follow You, Follow Me
Original Artist: Genesis
Writers: Phil Collins, Anthony Banks, Michael Rutherford
Publisher: Imagem Music
By arrangement with Casablanca Media Publishing
Performer: Adaline
Media Agency: PHD Media
Media Agency Planner: John Wearing, Andrew Young, Scott Henderson
PR Agency: Hill + Knowlton


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):December 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: December 15, 2015 – February 28, 2016
Base Period as a Benchmark: December 2014 – February 2015
Geographic Area: National
Budget for this effort: $1 - $2 million

Why should this case win in the category (ies) you have entered?
For a brand to get noticed during the holiday season is no small feat with every marketer ramping up their advertising efforts and spend. And to do so with a limited media budget is near impossible.

We could have done the typical ‘go to the movies with your family over the holidays’ advertising. Instead we created branded content that was as entertaining as the movies that Cineplex shows on their screens.

Branded content is all about offering something of value to the viewer. It has to be about them and their lives, not about the brand benefits. But it only works if there is an implicit connection between the brand and cultural tension at the heart of the content. This is what made this film both beautiful to watch and so effective.

Not only did our brand film capture the imagination and hearts of Canadians during the winter holidays, it turned them into brand ambassadors as they quickly shared the film across the globe, creating far-reaching organic exposure (9:1 organic to paid views) and cult-like status.

And as our film went viral, exceeding Cineplex’s wildest expectations, it significantly increased affinity for the brand in less than three months.

a) Describe the Client’s business, competition and relevant history:

Cineplex is the largest cinema chain and one of the largest entertainment companies in Canada.


Despite enjoying a dominant share in cinema chains, however, Cineplex operates in a highly competitive market. There are a growing number of ways to see movies – cheaper and more convenient than heading to a cinema. 


Technology platforms like Netflix, AppleTV, YouTube and Shomi, as well as the cable and satellite movie networks, are all making watching movies on-demand at home or on-the-go through mobile devices more and more commonplace.

b) Describe the Client’s Business Issues/Opportunities to be addressed by the campaign:

Cineplex was facing a fundamental challenge. While brand awareness was virtually 100%, brand affinity was surprisingly weak at 16% (1). Any emotional connection Canadians had was to the Hollywood films Cineplex shows, not the brand itself.


Against an increasingly competitive backdrop, it was time for Cineplex to start to stand for something beyond its utility as a movie screen company. Cineplex had been trying to crack a new way forward for several years and struggling - getting to a new brand positioning was one thing but finding an interesting way to bring it to life was where Cineplex kept hitting a roadblock.  This all changed in 2015.

c) Resulting Business Objectives: Include how these will be measured:
The key objective of this campaign was to start to see a lift in brand affinity as well as key brand equity measures.

Brand Affinity measures included:
• Affinity
• Meaningfulness
• Difference
• Saliency

Key Brand Equity measures included:
• Dynamic
• Meets Needs
• Unique
• Awareness
• Familiarity/Usage
• Consideration

(1) Millward Brown – Cineplex BrandExpress Wave 2 – April 22, 2016

a) What new learnings/insights did you uncover?

Our strategic journey began with scouring existing research and digging deep into the human psyche around entertainment (2). We conducted stakeholder interviews with key Cineplex executives as well as frontline theatre employees (3). We employed our strategic prototyping research methodology coast to coast (4). All this led to the following insight as our creative spark.

Everyone loves movies. So, we asked ourselves: What keeps people from going to the movies? From this simple question arose a human truth about growing up. Childhood is all about pleasure – filling your days with fun, discovery and imagination. Kids even make something they have to do – like eat – fun, by playing with their food.

But as we grow up, we feel a need to become serious and responsible. We put pressure on ourselves to excel at work and provide for our families. All the stress that comes from keeping up with the demands of adult life seems to leave little room for anything else.

As we keep our heads down and on task, we forget to look up and see what else is out there. We don’t even realize how long it’s been since we took the time to simply enjoy something with someone we love.

b) What was your Big Idea?



Those that invest time, effort and energy in the pleasurable side of life see the big picture.

c) How did your Communication strategy evolve?

Inspired by this insight, Cineplex set out to remind Canadians that the pure joy that comes from things like going to the movies is an important part of life; that they should make time for entertainment, in an experience richer and more rewarding than just flopping on the couch and catching something on Netflix or watching a movie on their phone over several rides on a bus.

This represented a significant shift from Cineplex’s previous ‘escape’ brand positioning. Watching a movie anywhere is a form of escape, but only those that make the effort to make time for entertainment are truly prioritizing pleasure in their lives.

d) How did you anticipate the communication would achieve the Business Objectives?

We needed to build an emotional connection with Canadians and a hard-sell campaign focused on driving ticket sales was not going to do it.

People have affinity for brands that share their beliefs and values. They appreciate and are drawn to brands that share their point of view on what is important in life.

By showing Canadians that we believe life shouldn’t be all work and no play, we would strengthen the bond Canadians feel for the Cineplex brand.

The Psychology of Entertainment ( - February 2010

WARC Trends, The Content Revolution – December 2013

KPBS, How Entertainment Works on You, By Maureen Cavanaugh, Hank Crook, July 2009

Why are people still flocking to movie theatres? Mark Kolier, January 2011

Psychology Today, Why is entertainment so entertaining, By Peter G. Stromberg, August 2009 (

Cineplex Brand Ambition Workshop with Key Executives – June 27, 2014

Cineplex Virtual Round Table (VRT) Qualitative Research – Summary and Insights – July 12, 2014

Strategic Territory Qualitative Research with Consumers – October 29 to November 11, 2014 – Vancouver, Calgary, Montreal, Halifax, Toronto

Section IV — THE WORK
a) How, where and when did you execute it?

We created Lily & the Snowman, an animated short film that unlocks a powerful truth and serves up an important reminder - that it’s important in life to see the big picture.

With a limited national media budget, we had to tell a powerful story that would be as enchanting as the films Canadians come to see on Cineplex screens. We knew we had to shine a light on a societal tension for people to share it and for it to get picked up in the press. We had to craft it to go for the emotional jugular.

The film featured a cover of Genesis’ “Follow You, Follow Me,” performed by Canadian singer Adaline, and ended with the thought-provoking suggestion to ‘Make time for what you love’.

The short was released in three phases:

  • SEED (Dec. 15 – 18, 2015): Prior to launch, Cineplex revealed online trailers and movie posters. A blogger outreach program seeded the film and won the holy grail of content placement: editorial, curated blog posts and organic peer-to-peer sharing.
  • LAUNCH (Dec. 18 2015 – Feb. 29 2016): For the in-theatre debut, we capitalized on the wave of holiday-season moviegoers. Our short film played in every theatre across the country right before the feature.
  • AMPLIFY (Dec. 28 – Feb. 29, 2016): The film was then released across all major social channels to broaden reach with high-impact placements that drove deeper engagement. The song was released on Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play and iTunes.

c) Media Plan Summary

  • Every theatre/auditorium across the country, prior to feature presentation
  • Digital and social
    • Seeding
    • Facebook-sponsored posts
    • Trueview
    • Display
    • YouTube, MSN, Yahoo mastheads
    • Organic social
    • Cineplex website
  • “Follow You Follow Me”, the song featured in our film, ran on iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play

Other in-theatre tactics included:

  • Static backlit posters
  • Digital backlits
  • Cineplex magazine
  • Lobby show

a) How did the work impact attitudes and behaviour?

Thanks to just this one film, in only three months Cineplex saw a 37.5% increase in brand affinity, an 11 point increase in its “meaningfulness” score and increases across all other key brand equity measures: (1)

  • ‘Dynamic’ +33%
  • ‘Meets needs’ +33%
  • ‘Different’ +5%
  • ‘Unique’ +43%

b) What Business Results did the work achieve for the client?

The 2015-2016 holiday season during which the ‘See The Big Picture’ campaign ran was a record sales period for Cineplex  with a 30.8% revenue increase, driven by a 17.4% YoY increase in attendance and 23.5% YoY increase at the box office.(6)

c) Other Pertinent Results

Over 30 million online views (21.8 million in the first 10 days alone), shattering objectives by 1,364%, driven by a 9:1 ratio of organic to paid views.  

It has been shared 620,000 times on Facebook and YouTube and received thousands of mentions across all social media platforms with a 98% positive sentiment. It was the most watched ad on YouTube in Canada in December.

Visits to the film’s page on surpassed objectives by over 300% in just the first two weeks. Visits – Dec. 2015 vs. 2014: +51%


Facebook followers – Dec. 2015 vs. 2014: +31%

Twitter followers – Dec. 2015 vs. 2014: +26%

Facebook impressions – Dec. 2015 vs. 2014: +1,596%

Twitter impressions – Dec. 2015 vs. 2014: +270%







The Cineplex version of “Follow You, Follow Me” was streamed over 30,000 times on Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play, and sold on iTunes. It made it to the Top 50 songs on Canada’s National Billboard chart in early March, and Adaline made several guest star appearances on live radio to talk up the Cineplex song and content.

And we are proud to share this campaign won two GOLDS at the 2016 Marketing Awards.

d) What was the campaign’s Return on Investment?

The campaign greatly surpassed all communication objectives and helped contribute to a record quarter for business results.

(5) Cineplex Q1 2016 Report, March 31 2016:

Section VI — Proof of Campaign Effectiveness
a) Illustrate the direct cause and effect between the campaign and the results

The latest Star Wars film was in theatres at the same time as Lily & the Snowman launched. However, sales were higher during this period than they were during the previous Star Wars launch (1). Thus, we feel confident that Lily & the Snowman contributed to the record sales.

With that said, however, the primary objective of this campaign was to increase brand affinity. History has shown that popular movies have no impact on Cineplex brand affinity. Thus, the significant increase we saw in brand affinity over such a short period of time can be attributed to the ‘See The Big Picture’ campaign.

b) Prove the results were not driven by other factors
Campaign spend vs. history and competition:

This was the first time Cineplex invested in brand support.  

Pre-existing Brand momentum:

None. This was the first time in a long time that Cineplex invested in brand support.


No pricing promotion during campaign period.

Changes in Distribution/Availability:


Unusual Promotional Activity:

A one-day, Scene-member only, Blue Monday promotion (get 500 Scene points to see any movie on Jan 19, 2016).

Any other factors:


(1) Cineplex 2005 Second Quarter Report – June 30, 2005