The Rec Room: 2020 Brand Identity (abridged!)
The creative leadership team was initially tasked with creating a new "brand sustain" video to replace the long-in-the-tooth version that had played during Cineplex's preshow for two years (two!). That spot featured an over-the-top wild night that began at The Rec Room, positioning the venue as simply a place for bros to pre-game. It did us no favours.
The problem: The Rec Room doesn't just try to be a lot of things to a lot of people — it is a lot of things to a lot of people.
Each of the eight locations across Canada serve a different demographic with different needs. Toronto Roundhouse is hot with tourist families, while Mississauga Square One is where young adults go when they've grown out of Playdium.
If we weren't just an early stop on a frat house pub crawl, who were we?
The starting point.
Internally, we considered the brand "premium." The produced work said otherwise. It was all over the map based on who the target was for a particular deal or event, covered in ascii emojis and outdated just-cuz hashtags.
Our tone of voice guidelines cited our brand persona as "Jimmy Fallon," so it's no wonder we lacked a strong POV (nothin' personal, Jimmy).
We needed to take a step back, refine our value prop, and strongly communicate all three brand pillars (food, games, entertainment) in a way that was more elevated and retained its sense of fun.
The new guidelines.
I started with what did work, and what those things had in common. Our logo would stay, and some existing pieces (like drink coasters with "put a ring on it"), were nailing the right tone of voice.
But "right" needed to be put into words. While our design team refined our look (goodbye, secondary colour palette), I got to work on new tone of voice guidelines (goodbye, Jimmy).
The creative concept.
With our newly-repaired foundation, it became clear that we could solve our original problem by leaning into it.
The Rec Room is many things to many people — so naturally, it can mean many things to you.
Every experience at The Rec Room is different, and the best way to illustrate that was through specificity. We'd do more than cite our three pillars (food, games, and entertainment). We'd drill down to individual actions that spark thousands of joyful or memorable moments for guests every day.
This "experience list" would carry across every piece of campaign creative — including that sustain video.
Internally, we referred to this big idea as "the power of possibilities." However, since the concept was copy-driven, we decided the campaign should live without a tagline.
About that video.
We decided to completely move away from creating another narrative.
Instead, we'd translate our "experience list" into a cohesive video toolkit that would allow us to drag and drop footage of multiple experiences to create a unique montage every time.
Whether it was parties, ping-pong, or poutine, we could serve these "experiences" based on the evolving needs identified by our internal stakeholders.
COVID-19 thwarted the video shoot (by mere weeks!) and killed the media spend planned for the brand campaign itself. However, we implemented the new look and tone of voice for the social campaigns we launched throughout the pandemic, and the results give me hope that we'll see all this work in the world sooner or later.