Social Media Stars and Seniors Teach Each Other a Little Something in Fun Retirement Ads

Odd couples in Ontario

Millennials will be young forever, so they don't have to think about stuff like retirement or pension plans.

Just in case that logic proves wrong, the government of Ontario, Canada, teamed up with ad agency Bensimon Byrne—of absurd beer slogans fame—for a series of online spots designed to get 18- to 35-year-olds thinking about their golden years.

Breaking this week, the videos, each more than two minutes long, promote a new offering called the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. Each sets up a "generational exchange of wisdom" that pairs a retiree with a millennial. The twenty-somethings—all high-profile influencers in Canada—learn what retirement is about, and the seniors get a crash course in popular culture. 

In the clip below, YouTube music star Andrew Huang hangs out with ex-cop Livingstone. They chat a bit about saving for retirement and cook up a sizzling dance track, using sounds from a skillet and other kitchen utensils: 

"This was the best way to reach millennials because it's a complicated subject with many nuances," Joseph Bonnici, executive creative director at Bensimon Byrne, tells AdFreak. "Imagine asking a young person to worry about something 40 years down the road? That's not something a :30 pre-roll can accomplish. We wanted to create compelling content that would give young people some true insight into what retirement was actually like." 

In this next spot, retiree Maureen schools Typical Gamer on teatime etiquette, while scoring tips on trash talk and Far Cry Primal: 

Guess that scruffy Canadian dude learned that retirement's no game, eh?

"We specifically chose these three young stars because they had a natural curiosity about the subject matter," says Bonnici. "Once the shoot actually began, we allowed the relationships to develop organically. They were told very basic information about one another, and we only told them they were there to exchange some wisdoms and experiences from one another's lives."

Finally, Brent, a host on Toronto's Indie 88 radio, puts a classical spin on the D.J. trade for Kathy, who teaches him how to dance the Charleston:

"There were absolutely no rehearsals, and they met on set as the cameras were rolling," Bonnici says. "We basically kept them rolling for the next 12 hours as they chatted and learned. It was incredible to watch their bonds blossom throughout the day and see the young stars take the retirees under their wing and vice versa." 

Indeed, the intergenerational sweetness is fun and even moving, while the retirement discussions are brief and not too preachy. Millennials will probably appreciate the whole "sharing ideas" concept, which keeps the spots from feeling like lectures they can just tune out. (The young snots!)

Of course, after shooting some 36 hours of footage, a lot of material wound up on the cutting-room floor. 

"There was a great scene where Brent from Indie 88 crank-called Kathy's granddaughter," Bonnici recalls. "Brent told her Kathy had been arrested for shoplifting classical music records. The granddaughter was absolutely speechless."


Campaign Title: Wisdom Exchange

Client: Government of Ontario

Product: ORPP

Agency: Bensimon Byrne

Creative Director: Joseph Bonnici / Dan Strasser

Associate Creative Director: Lorne Covant

Art Director: Debbie Chan

Writer: Matt Doran

Agency Producer: Meghan Cheesbrough

Group Account Director: Jill Engelman

Business Lead: Charlotte Osbourne

Project Manager: Ashley Belfast

Production House: Untitled Films

Director: Andrew Norton

Director of Photography: Jesse Louttit

Executive Producer: Peter Davis

Line Producer: Tony Phibbs

Post Production Offline: School Editing