April 23, 2024 at 9:00 AM
by Black Box Productions

Creating an emotional connection in a commercial campaign is crucial because it not only enhances memorability but also fosters a deeper relationship between the brand and its audience. This connection drives engagement and loyalty, turning viewers into advocates and directly impacting consumer decision-making.

Recently, we collaborated with Shoeless Joe’s, a sports-themed restaurant chain with multiple locations in Ontario, on a commercial that highlighted the restaurant’s four decades of sports fervor in a 30-second commercial, capturing the excitement of big sports wins shared by fans across generations.

This commercial was broadcast on TV during the NHL playoffs, to maximize viewership among Canadian sports fans (our client’s ideal customer).

The Challenge:

The challenge was clear: Shoeless Joe's aimed to celebrate its 40 years while reminiscing about the emotional connection Canadians have with sports and food. With a focus on both nostalgia and the excitement of sports, the task was to distill four decades of memories, victories, and camaraderie into a short, impactful commercial spot.

The Creative Approach:

The creative journey began with a simple concept: flashback scenes. Flashbacks in commercials can be a powerful storytelling tool. Using familiar experiences and emotional connections, brands can quickly establish a rapport with viewers within limited air time. This technique enables brands to condense complex narratives into succinct yet meaningful key messages they want to convey with the audience.

The decision to focus on sports nostalgia was made with Shoeless Joe's patrons in mind, who are avid sports enthusiasts. We wanted to tap into the strong emotions of celebrating a big win surrounded by friends and fans. Each scene would relive these big wins and show the spirit of celebration that defines the sports bar experience.

The team at Black Box Productions, in collaboration with Shoeless Joe's, selected significant moments in Canadian sports history, from the Toronto Blue Jays' 1993 World Series victories to Sidney Crosby's goal at the 2010 Olympics, and the Toronto Raptors' NBA championship win in 2019. These moments were woven into the script, capturing the highlights of Canadian sports fan culture.

The Execution:

Capturing the passage of time required meticulous attention to detail, from props and wardrobe selection to set design. Originally, our client planned to provide a photo of the first Shoeless Joe's location in Toronto 40 years ago for our video. The commercial would begin with this old photograph, hinting at its intriguing backstory.

However, we couldn't locate the photo in time. To maintain the concept intact, we decided to use an AI-generated image recreating the appropriate style of Shoeless Joe's exterior during that time, complete with a vintage car, and captured it with a Polaroid, and affixed the physical photograph to a corkboard for continuity in the video.

Captured on an Alexa Mini camera, subtle lighting cues and filming styles to mimic different eras, helped to establish each sports moment in time. Sound effects were also used to recreate the ambiance of a bustling sports bar, complete with the roar of the crowd and the exhilarating commentary of the announcer.

Close-up shots of mouth-watering food served at Shoeless Joe's were strategically incorporated into each scene, emphasizing the restaurant's role as the ultimate food destination for sports fans.

Intertwining the visuals of sports triumphs with delectable food offerings, the commercial not only celebrates Shoeless Joe's legacy but also showcases its vibrant atmosphere.

Key Takeaways:

As Shoeless Joe's continues to celebrate its legacy as an important part of Canadian sports fan culture, its 40th-anniversary commercial demonstrates how storytelling can foster powerful emotions and turn the audience into fans of the brand.