Little-known New Brunswick island Grand Manan has become the star of a heart-warming new campaign for the MARS® brand aimed at bringing together local residents. A fishing community one and a half hour’s sail from the mainland, last year the island got what every small Canadian town dreams of – its own ice hockey rink. And this winter the makers of MARS® partnered with Hockey Canada to lend a helping hand by adding in a heated mezzanine, keeping out the cold for spectators cheering on their players who could now have the chance to become the future Sidney Crosbys of the game.
A project close to their hearts, BBDO Toronto Associate Creative Directors Jaimes Zentil and Craig McIntosh developed the concept and script, and were drawn to Grand Manan by the island’s unique culture and close-knit community. To bring the story to life, Emmy award-winning director Doug Pray and Holiday Films were brought on board to shoot a 30-second commercial and five-minute web film.
Calling on his documentary film background, Pray embraced the charm and spirit of the islanders with an authentic and naturalistic storytelling style that stars an array of local Grand Mananers. Pray’s effort tracks the positive impact of the build and demonstrates how with a little help from the makers of MARS®, the rink has become a focal point for the community, bringing this proud island a stronger sense of identity through its affinity with Canada’s favorite sport.
“I was attracted to the script because it was real,” comments Pray. “Mars Canada Inc. really did make an important donation to the community and the community really did appreciate it. I also enjoy working with real communities on big projects like this because, for them, it's exciting and their enthusiasm helps inspire our work. In Grand Manan, the same spirit that brought this community together to build a hockey arena, was the same energy we enjoyed when they came together to help us film the Mars commercial.”
Pray won international acclaim for his 2009 documentary Art & Copy, which examined the industry’s extensive impact on popular culture and featured some of the business’ greatest minds – including George Lois, Mary Wells, Dan Wieden, Lee Clow, and Hal Riney. Art & Copy premiered at Sundance and claimed an Emmy Award in 2011 for outstanding arts and culture programming.
Pray’s filmography also includes several documentaries on American subcultures, including Surfwise, which documented the infamous Paskowitz surfing family, and Scratch, an exploration of the world of hip-hop DJs. In his commercial career, Pray has helmed projects for brands such as Sprite, Adidas, Kodak, Ford, Nike and Philips amongst others.