Retirement funds first millennium TV spot in Canada

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TORONTO--The first commercial on Canadian TV networks in 2000 will not be for beer, a new soft drink or a major car company. Instead, Canadians, known for their penchant for saving money, will be given encouragement to salt away some money with AGF Fund, a major Canadian retirement fund marketer.

The 30- and 60-second spots, in English and French, were created by Sebastian Consultancy, Toronto, and will air right after the stroke of midnight New Year's Eve and then run for two weeks. The largest Canadian network, CTV, is featuring the spot in the midst of internationally known Canadian singer Celine Dion's farewell TV special as she retires from the music business for at least a few years. The program is expected to pull the largest Canadian audience for the night.

The AGF Fund commercials feature a regal and wizened Father Time taking a long, slow stroll down a darkened hallway, shot in b&w. "Eventually, everyone retires," says the voice-over, as Father Time exits. A door bursts opens and out runs Baby New Year with all the enthusiasm and optimism of a newborn, eager and full of possibility. "What are you doing after work?" is the voice-over as the spot closes, reinforcing AGF's existing positioning statement.

Gary Prouk, partner at Sebastian Consultancy, writer of the spots, worked with director Eugene Beck of Angel Films, Toronto. This marks the first time Beck and Prouk have worked together since a famous Mona Lisa spot for Cadbury 25 years ago, which became the first commercial to be showcased in the Advertising Hall of Fame in New York. The Mona Lisa ad is still studied today in business schools around the world.

While Young & Rubicam, Toronto, is AGF's national brand agency, AGF Senior VP-Marketing Randy VanDerStarren sought out Sebastian Consultancy a year ago to provide ongoing counsel and advice regarding AGF's marketing strategies and efforts. Since then, Sebastian Consultancy has worked on a number of AGF's funds.

Copyright December 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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