Visa Canada revealed Friday that it is the brand behind #smallenfreuden, an online and out-of-home teaser campaign that’s been running for over a week in several Canadian markets. The first spot for the campaign, “The Pattersons,” features a couple purchasing a drink at a hockey game using a Visa card on a mobile debit machine.
An English/German portmanteau meaning “the joy of small,” Visa made up “smallenfreuden” to describe the small, delightful purchases consumers can making with Visa cards. Created by BBDO Proximity, the spot ends with the line, “Visa helps you get more out of the way you pay for small purchases.”
In the lead up to the reveal, an anonymous smallenfreduen Twitter account (run by BBDO Proximity) had been teasing consumers on social media with playful quips about whether they smallenfreuden, how they smallenfreuden and who they smallenfreuden with. On Friday, the account switched its profile picture to a Visa logo and added “#smallenfreuden means using your Visa card for the small purchases you’d make anyway” to its bio.
One of very few Canadian teaser campaigns in recent years, Visa’s smallenfreuden billboards and social presence attracted the attention of the social web (not to mention Marketing commenters) who eagerly posted their theories about which brand might be the face of smallenfreuden. (In 2008, Bell took a similar strategy with its “er” campaign, which featured just two letters on ads that later featured the copy “today just got better.”)
Hypotheses on social media and in Marketing’s comments section included plenty of automotive brands like Smart Car, Volkswagen and Fiat. It wasn’t until Thursday, the day before the reveal, when a commenter busted Visa as the brand behind the campaign. On Thursday, Toronto-based blogger Mitchell Kutney also pulled the cat out of the bag, pointing his 15,000 Twitter followers to Visa’s registration of the Smallenfreuden trademark on the Canadian Trade-marks Database.
There were, however, clues that BBDO was behind the campaign from the start. When the smallenfreuden Twitter account launched, several BBDO Proximity staffers were amongst the first to follow it, though they’ve since unfollowed the account. There was also a now-deleted Wikipedia page on smallenfreuden stating, “smallenfreuden was coined in the small town of Greenwood, British Columbia, Canada by Tina Obersnel in 1987.”
Obersnel is not, in fact, a resident of of Greenwood, but an account director at BBDO.
The only hint the campaign was for Visa, however, was how its brand colours – gold and royal blue – were used on the smallenfreuden billboards and Twitter page. On the morning of the reveal, Dave Lafond, president of Proximity Canada, tweeted, “I often #smallenfreuden including last night on plane returning from LAX with [Proximity senior vice-president of strategy] @tyturnbull.”
The smallenfreuden campaign is the first major campaign for Visa from BBDO Proximity since winning the account last last year from TBWA.