Creating an Epic Advertisement (and result) from The Littlest Hobo


Creating an Epic Advertisement (and result) from The Littlest Hobo

We worked with FCL on a special Canada Day commercial, utilizing one of our nation’s most recognizable songs, ‘Maybe Tomorrow’. The results shattered all realistic expectations.

01 —We Make The Extraordinary Happen

Let’s start things with some grim statistics. You’re sitting down in front of your computer or phone to watch your daily dose of ASMR videos on YouTube. But before your titillating video can begin, you’re treated to a skippable advertisement. Chances aren’t great you stick with the ad to its end, regardless of its length. Skippable ads only have about a 30% completion rate, and the longer the advertisement, the lower those numbers get. But with a Barbershop Films production, the story can be a little different. And by ‘little’ we mean dramatically different.

“We had a completion rate of 86 percent. For a 30-second spot sitting at 86 percent, that’s absolutely unheard of,” said Carey Tufts, former Director of Marketing and Communications at Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL).

“It’s probably the most successful piece of advertising I’ve ever made or will make. For real,” he said.

02 —Resonating With Canadians

The breakthrough advertisement in question was a national campaign for FCL, called Maybe Tomorrow, in which a mother dog and her estranged puppy weave through forests and fields, ride on trains, run down gravel roads, and lick pretty girls on the mouth during their respective quests to reunite in a sun-drenched field. For the ad, we had secured the rights to “Maybe Tomorrow”, the wildly recognizable/nostalgic theme-song from the 80s Canadian TV show, The Littlest Hobo. As such, the production took us, and a small group of dogs, through Saskatchewan, Alberta, and BC in order to properly capture the epic adventure of two little hobos reuniting.

The advertisement was conceived as a special, nostalgia-inducing spot to honour Canada Day. As FCL is Canadian to its core – a company located in Canada, that sources Canadian products whenever possible, and whose branches are owned by Canadian communities – they wanted to create an inherently Canadian ad that resonated with Canadians.

“We looked at a bunch of different cultural touchpoints: TV shows, movies, music, art. There were lots of good ideas. But in a creative session with Barbershop, we were fortunate that their team came up with the perfect thing: an iconic piece of music from a beloved TV show that was very distinctly Canadian,” said Tufts.

03 —Performance Under Pressure

The production had countless moving parts, including dogs and dog-handlers, semi-trucks and trains, closing down highways, and coordinating with actors and crew across three provinces, to name a few. And if that wasn’t enough, there was also the pressure of living up to a song that might be second to only the Canadian National Anthem.

“One of the key considerations was to pay homage to the source material without being opportunistic or too cheesy,” said Tufts.

“Barbershop hit a home run. And they were able to keep the set light and fun while having all the pressure of these significant technical challenges. And I think that really shows up in the finished product.”

04 —A Canadian Classic

And with the aforementioned 86% watch rate on YouTube, the advertisement certainly struck a chord with Canadians, dogs, and hobos alike. It has aired every Canada Day since it premiered five years ago, and it remains one of our proudest productions, both as filmmakers and Canadians.

“When the spot was playing, we would get calls, emails, and even hand-written letters from people saying how much they loved the spot and appreciated it,” said Tufts.

“It still feels fresh and resonates with audiences. And has the highest completion rate that I or our ad partner had ever seen. It was a 100 percent success on every possible measure.”