Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (SILVER)

Client Credits: Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Helen Zukerman, Executive Director, Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Debbie Werner, Managing Director, Toronto Jewish Film Festival
Roz Davidson, Director of Development, Toronto Jewish Film Festival

Agency Credits: DDB Canada
Melanie Johnston, SVP Managing Director, DDB Canada
Denise Rossetto, Executive Creative Director, DDB Canada
Todd Mackie, Executive Creative Director, DDB Canada
David Ross, Associate Creative Director, DDB Canada
David Horovitch, Associate Creative Director, DDB Canada
Paul Wallace, Associate Creative Director, DDB Canada
Jake Bundock, Art Director/Designer, DDB Canada
Leigh Farlow, Senior Account Executive, DDB Canada
Caroline Clarke, Producer, DDB Canada
Andrew Schulze, Director of Broadcast Production, DDB Canada
Parker Mason, Social Media Planner, DDB Canada
Sandra Moretti, Senior Strategist, DDB Canada
Kevin McHugh, Strategist, DDB Canada
Joe Dee, Director of Technology, Tribal Worldwide
Chris Webden, Producer, Tribal Worldwide
Catherine Kim, VP Integrated Operations & Production, Tribal Worldwide
Dale McRae, Information Architect, Tribal Worldwide
Daniel Wiseman, Junior Information Architect, Tribal Worldwide
Gar Liu, Developer, Tribal Worldwide
Brendyn Zachary, Developer, Tribal Worldwide
Patrick Matte, Developer, Tribal Worldwide
Devon Williamson, Designer, Tribal Worldwide
Ed Lee, Senior Director of Social Media, Tribal Worldwide
Jordan Harrell, Social Media Intern, Tribal Worldwide
Martine Lévy, Managing Director, DDB Canada Public Relations
James Loftus, Account Manager, DDB Canada Public Relations
Gabrielle Totesau, Account Supervisor, DDB Canada Public Relations:Philip Rostron:Instil Productions
Paul-Mark Rendon, Senior Consultant, DDB Canada Public Relations:Alter Ego:Mann Casting
Emily McCauley, Communications Coordinator, DDB Canada Public Relations:Keen:AXYZ:Posterboy
Genevieve Aversa, Jr. Communications Coordinator, DDB Canada Public Relations:Suneeva:AdRules

Total 1783 Words


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):March 2013 - April 2013
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: March 2013
Base Period as a Benchmark: Calendar 2012

a) Overall Assessment

When you think of the Toronto Jewish Film Festival, what comes to mind? Boring religious movies? Documentaries about the Holocaust? Well, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, though the Toronto Jewish Film Festival had been running for over twenty years, it had an aging, almost exclusively Jewish, audience base and was experiencing dwindling ticket sales.

Younger filmgoers flocked in droves to trendy and massively popular festivals like Toronto International Film Festival every year, but showed no interest in the Toronto Jewish Film Festival. And anyone who was aware of the festival had the misperception that it was filled with heavy, depressing movies about the Jewish plight and suffering and often came with a political agenda attached. 

But this is not the case. The Toronto Jewish Film Festival (TJFF) is a not-for-profit, charitable organization whose goal is to showcase Jewish culture, heritage, and the authentic Jewish experience in Canada and across the world through film. Their films are not exclusively religious, and range from dramas and comedies, to romances and gangster films from around the world.

For the 21st TJFF, we needed to use advertising to turn the decline in ticket sales around and broaden the appeal of the festival to attract a younger, more diverse crowd. However, we would be challenged to do so without any increase in spending versus previous years. Oy vey!

b) Resulting Business Objectives

Strangely, even though the Jewish community has a long and celebrated history in film, people assumed the Toronto Jewish Film Festival would be limited to movies that focused on Jewish people and the Jewish religion. The fact that festival attendees were predominantly Jewish didn’t help dispel this myth. However, if you think about the number of Jews in Hollywood and the film business, it is a pretty laughable assumption that movies they would be involved with would all be focused on the Jewish religion and the hardships of Jews. Of course there are movies like Schindler’s List, but there are also a zillion other movies which Jewish people have been part of that have nothing to do with the Jewish religion. The TJFF is very versatile in that respect. It features a range of amazing movies, from blockbusters to smaller independent films, chock full of drama, suspense, laughter and thrills. All the action and excitement movie lovers crave, along with the A list stars and Directors that go with it. Our goal then for the 21st TJFF was to assert the festival as showcasing the finest in film. Period.

Working with extremely limited funds, our clients set 3 key objectives:

  1. Stem the decline in ticket sales, and deliver a 5% increase in sales over 2012. 
  2. Specifically increase online sales, as this is less labour intensive and helps reduce costs to run the Festival.
  3. Grow the audience base by attracting a younger, non-Jewish demographic.

c) Annual Media Budget
$100,000 - $200,000

d) Geographic Area

a) Analysis and Insight

We knew we needed to attract younger moviegoers in order to grow our audience. The challenge was that our target of non-Jewish 25-45 year olds, who attend film festivals at least once a year, didn’t currently think the TJFF was relevant to them. They figured they knew what the festival was all about and they just weren’t up for a bunch of depressing movies about religious strife.

The funny thing was, research showed that if our target gave it some more considered thought, they actually recognized that Jewish people have had a major role in delivering great films since film began. Whether as writers, producers or directors, Jewish people are in fact immensely talented when it comes to making movies and as actors, they often have incredible comedic chops. So why would a festival celebrating Jewish people’s involvement with movies be anything less than fun and entertaining?

To gain broader appeal for the 21st TJFF, we needed a campaign with a little chutzpah. We wanted to show our target, in a fun and engaging way, how many of their favourite movies are actually more Jewish than they think and remind people that film is something Jews do incredibly well. So to breakthrough to our target, we took a light-hearted view of some of the professions for which Jewish people are perhaps not stereotypically known for. This led us to our campaign idea: “Film. It’s what Jews do best.” 

b) Communication Strategy

A fully integrated mass campaign was used to communicate the campaign idea that films are what Jewish people do best. A self-deprecating sense of humour brought this idea to life in an unexpected and engaging way.

We launched with TV, transit ads and radio in March 2013, the month leading up to the festival. These elements highlighted that while Jewish people don’t make great plumbers, contractors, or lumberjacks, film is what we do best. Communications played up the fact that Jews don’t take themselves too seriously, while reminding our target of the incredible reputation Jews have for making great movies.

Since we were tasked with specifically driving online ticket sales, we knew we had to do something especially engaging in the digital space that would get people not only clicking, but buying tickets. So we created an online experience that added a whole other layer of fun and entertainment to the campaign. We launched J-DAR (, a surprising online experience where users could search their favourite movies to see how Jewish they really were. J-DAR connected to a movie database and cross-referenced the credits list with well-known Jewish cast and crew and then calculated a percentile score to form its ‘Jewish’ measure. J-DAR would then recommend TJFF movies to see based on the Hollywood movie they searched, with a direct link to purchase tickets. This phase was amplified through social outreach to movie and culture bloggers, as well as PR.

In addition to being advertised online, J-DAR was also promoted in mainstream theatres where captive movie-loving audiences were prompted to try J-DAR on their mobile devices before the trailers began. To capture attention and create interest, headlines like “Transformers is more Jewish than Fiddler on the Roof” were projected onto the screen, with a drive to J-DAR.

a) Media Used

Our creative platform was brought to life with a fully integrated campaign consisting of: TV, radio, print, newspaper, OOH, in-theatre pre-show, and PR. Using social media and J-DAR, an online tool that calculates how "Jewish" your favourite Holywood movies are, we backed up our claim that Jewish people really do know a thing or two about making movies.

b) Creative Discussion

Television launched with a spot that showed a woman coming home to find that a number of renovations to her home had been done horribly wrong, all thanks to a friendly bearded Jewish guy waving hello from his ‘Goldberg Home Renovations’ truck. The line then said, “There’s a reason why we stick to making movies.”

Print prompted consumers to question the number of Jewish plumbers they knew or poked fun at the fact that the Coen brothers have received four Oscar nods while the Farrelly brothers have received none. Both supported by the line “Film. It’s what we do best.”

The campaign also extended to radio, which promoted Mandlebaum plumbing, a Jewish-run plumbing company that lacked a little know-how when it comes to putting asphalt in a bathroom or “caulking… something”…

Finally, online a site was developed that would house all the fun and engaging content around J-DAR, a application that allowed consumers to see how ‘Jewish’ a movie was by calculating the number of Jews that were involved in the making of it. Based on the movie they searched, recommendations for similar movies shown at the Festival were made and prompted users to click through to buy tickets.

All elements worked together to underpin how integral Jews are to great movies, giving movie lovers the push they needed to get their seats and have their popcorn ready.

c) Media Discussion

Television, radio, out-of-home, and print were all used to broaden awareness of the festival and get people to re-evaluate their assumptions. The creative engaged a mass audience in a tongue-in-cheek way, by having a little fun with the unexpected presence of a Jewish person in a profession they are not typically associated with.

Online advertising drove consumers to J-DAR.CA, an online experience where they could have some fun figuring out how ‘Jewish’ their favourite movie was. This was integral to linking entertainment and engagement to direct action – buying tickets. In this case the link was seamless, with people going directly from a film recommendation to the chance to buy a ticket to see it. Cinema and mobile allowed us to extend the online experience to a captive audience of moviegoers who were then also enabled to easily buy festival tickets.

a) Sales/Share Results

Let there be sales!

  • Advance box office sales were up an astounding 19.4% from the previous year and in spite a shorter box office period this year.
  • Overall box office sales were up 14% from last year - nearly tripling our targeted 5% increase. 
  • Most impressive, online ticket sales rose a whopping 43% compared to the previous year.
  • And in terms of attracting a broader audience, exit polls at the films revealed a younger non-Jewish demographic component to the audience was consistently observed at the films.

Thou shalt engage!

  • The campaign also proved to be highly engaging. Our radio spots earned so much buzz, they were a featured segment on the city’s top talk-show station (News-Talk Radio 1010AM), where listeners called in with their reactions on the creative, generating a substantial amount of additional discussion and intrigue.
  • J-DAR.CA, our online experience developed to further engage our target in the campaign, generated over 122,000 movie searches in just three weeks alone. People were extremely entertained, with the average time spent on site over 5 minutes per visit - an amazing engagement rate of 63%. Mazel tov!

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

The campaign ‘Film, it’s what Jews do best’ was the sole activity in market promoting or supporting the Toronto Jewish Film Festival which ran in April 2013. Ticket prices remained the same from previous years, as did the media investment. While we can confidently attribute the increase in ticket sales to the overall campaign, it is especially easy for us to do so with regards to online sales, a key measure for the success of this campaign. Online we were able to see that people were coming to the site and spending a great deal of time searching movies and getting recommendations etc. Since this linked to ticket sales, we know people went directly from the J-DAR.CA experience to purchase tickets to the festival. The festival is held at the same time every year.

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

Spending levels have remained constant.


Pricing has remained constant.

Distribution Changes:

Distribution has remained constant.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

This campaign was the sole initiative for the 21st TJFF.

Other Potential Causes: