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Cannes Lion supports Ad Club fund

Jo Roy's Sprite commercial with a message is but one of the many creative commercials being played during various screenings of the Cannes Lions 2019 reel, the first of which will be on Thursday as a fundraiser for the Ad Club of Edmonton's National Advertising Benevolent Society.
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St. Albert-raised director/dancer Jo Roy. JO ROY/Photo

The winners of last year’s Cannes Lion International Festival of Creativity will be hitting the big screen starting this week, and it includes some of the ads that were associated with St. Albert native Jo Roy’s I Love You, Haters TV commercial.

The I Love You, Haters ads took home a Bronze Lion prize at last year’s festival. The pieces with a positive spin are making their transition to the theatre house starting with an event hosted by an industry organization with its own positive spin: it’s serving as a fundraiser for a local organization dedicated to helping others.

Roy’s commercial for Sprite centres on a male pole dancer just going about performing his amazing routine while a faceless voiceover provides a constant barrage of negative comments about him and what he’s doing. In the end, the pole dancer walks away smiling, showing the world that haters can hate and it doesn’t need to affect you one iota as long as you love what you’re doing.

“It was really amazing. A lot of times when you're doing commercials, first of all, it's extremely competitive. Second of all, you really don't as a director have a lot of control most of the time over even the creative of it, so you end up doing a lot of things likely that are just more and more to sell a product and not necessarily for the point of art. To have had my very first commercial that I ever had with my own base of my own creative where I had so much control and for the purpose of submitting to a commercial competition was really unbelievable,” Roy said during an interview with the Gazette in 2019.

Her work is actually one in Sprite’s I Love You, Haters series of ads and it’s not the only one that features a male pole dancer. Another includes one young woman plucking away on a ukulele while singing lyrics that she collected from hate-spewing Internet trolls. Collectively, the series won the Campaign Award and you can see them all together during the screening. Another still shows snippets of other people who face social adversity for reasons including their sexuality, their body weight, and their braces. The bit culminates with them embracing their haters by singing the Beatles' All You Need is Love.

Thursday’s Edmonton screening of the Cannes Lions winners is one of the highlights of the annual networking event put on by the Advertising Club of Edmonton. The event primarily serves as a fundraiser for the National Advertising Benevolent Society (NABS), ACE’s way of helping its own. It is the country’s only charitable organization that specifically provides assistance to advertising, media and related industry professionals who find themselves in need of help for a variety of reasons including illness, injury, unemployment, and financial difficulties. It offers training programs, career strategy group meetings, and personal counseling. People can call 1-888-355-5548 to access NABS.

The Cannes Lion event starts with networking at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20 at Allard Hall on the Grant MacEwan University campus, 10700 104 Ave. The film presentation itself rolls out at 8 p.m. General admission tickets are $60 each ($25 for students) and includes hors d'oeuvres and a cash bar plus a silent auction.

If you miss that date then you still have five more chances when the World’s Best Commercials take a limited engagement at Metro Cinema starting Feb. 29. The theatre is located at 8712 109 St. in Edmonton. Visit for more details.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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