Every time a car battery dies, an angel gets his wings.
That’s the slightly less conventional holiday tale that the British Columbia affiliate of CAA, the Canadian Automobile Association, is using to market its services this season.
In the lunchtime hours on Wednesday, the BCAA is hosting a stunt in downtown Vancouver, where a “guardian angel” dressed in a roadside assistance uniform and a large pair of wings, will float roughly 16 feet in the air in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
It’s part of a holiday campaign attempting to convince shoppers to consider a gift of a BCAA membership (because nothing says “I love you” like insurance against spark plug failure.) The association is investing in holiday time because the winter months can be a particularly high period for roadside problems.
To promote the holiday campaign and the Wednesday event, BCAA released an online ad this week profiling one of its technicians. In the video , Brian goes about his duties wearing a fetching set of wings, to the surprise of customers.
At the stunt on Wednesday, that video will play on a large 16 ft. by 16 ft. by 16 ft. box, while a stuntman in uniform and wings appears to float beside the box, introducing himself as a guardian angel and greeting the smartphone camera snapping of passers-by. The team will also have a snow machine to complete the effect.
“We’re not making this religious at all. It’s kind of non-denominational. A guardian angel is like the Easter Bunny,” said Scot Keith, president of Vancouver-based ad agency Kommunity, which is responsible for the campaign.
The stunt is typical of the kind of “branded content” that is becoming more popular for marketers, Mr. Keith said. Companies are trying to reach an advertising-weary public through the kind of stunts, videos and other content they might actually want to consume.
The illusion will appear as though the angel is resting his hand on the box and floating in mid-air; the arm, however, is actually a prosthetic (rigged with moving fingers) hiding a pipe that attaches the stunt man’s harness to the box. When bewildered passers-by interact with the actor, however, he won’t tell them any of that.
“He’ll explain that he’s an angel,” Mr. Keith said. “He’ll be in character.”