Ancestry Urges Viewers to Complete the Stories of Their Own Family History in Latest Campaign

It's Anomaly's first for the brand

How will this story end? Ancestry Canada
Headshot of Erik Oster

Ancestry’s new campaign features a series of incomplete stories.

That approach is used to illustrate how Ancestry users can uncover documents to tell the hidden history of their family tree. The integrated campaign launches with a series of three spots in the style of historical dramas.

Each story, which includes an interracial couple fleeing the U.S. to get married in Canada in the 1860s, a family immigrating from Ireland during the potato famine and a young man pleading with his doctor to let him enlist in World War I, is cut short before concluding with the message, “Without you, the story stops here.”

The campaign from the Toronto office of Anomaly is the first work from the agency since being named agency of record in the U.K. and Canada last November and takes the brand in a new direction. Anomaly Toronto was behind the campaign, brand strategy, concept and design.

Additional campaign elements, including visual elements showing the gaps in family history, will roll out in the coming weeks and months.

Back in January, Ancestry released a documentary about bringing together six strangers in Brooklyn and revealed an unexpected connection. Previous work from the brand includes a “Together Forever” ad displaying how inextricably tied the U.K. is to Europe and a Veteran’s Day ad showing that “American heroes come from everywhere.” Anomaly’s campaign focuses more on the personal stories waiting to be uncovered. If the cliffhanger endings call to mind Netflix binge sessions, that’s by design.

“We uncovered a new strategic opportunity that positions Ancestry as a usage platform, much like well-known streaming services,” Anomaly president Candace Borland explained in a statement. “These brands have a place not only in consumers’ minds but in their lives. No one says ‘I’ve done Netflix.’ Ancestry is a platform that people use to uncover the ongoing, fascinating stories of their ancestors—it was time to show that truth in a new light.”

Anomaly Toronto
Executive Creative Director – Dave Douglass / Pete Breton
Associate Creative Director / Writer – Matthew Donne
Associate Creative Director / Art Director – Rich Brown
Head of Production – Janice Bisson
Producer – Megan Flett
Head of Account Management – Bryden McDonald
Account Manager – Rhiannon Enss

Ancestry Clients:
VP, Global Creative Director – Paige Grossman
Sr International Creative Director – Alex Stainton
Country Manager, Canada – Bill DeGroot
Sr International Brand Manager – Kellie Preece

Production House – The Corner Store
Executive Producer — Susi Patterson
Producer – Erik Wilson
Director – Daniel and Dorian
Director of Photography – Jan David Gunther

Post Production – Alter Ego
Colourist – Wade Odlum

Editorial House – Saints Editorial
Editor – Ross Birchall
Assistant Editor – Nancy Gidman-LaTorraca

Audio House – Berkeley
Director / Engineer – Jared Kuemper

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.