Cannes Lions

Dream Thieves

COSSETTE, Toronto / KOHO / 2019







Canadians pay the highest bank fees in the world contributing to a record $42 billion in bank profits in 2018. With the big five banks controlling over 90% of the market, Canadians felt they had no choice but to resign themselves to the fact that the system is rigged against them. Over 50% of Canadians are living paycheque-to-paycheque, resulting in more than 2/3 of them not being able to carry the minimum balance needed to avoid these monthly charges. We had a tremendous challenge, not only launch an entirely new brand, but to wake Canadians up to the fact that their current financial provider is not working in their best interest. Our ultimate goal was to increase brand awareness, engagement, and of course drive customer acquisition.


Rather than focus on banks taking money from our pockets, we reframed the story to talk about the end benefit of money. What banks really steal are people’s dreams. Dreams of owning a home, sending their kids to college, travelling the world, and retiring early. We created a 13-minute film dramatizing the predatory practices of the more traditional Canadian financial system, portraying it as a dark and insidious militant force that fills people’s heads with dreams of a better, happier life only to steal them back while they sleep. KOHO’s technology and products could rewrite this narrative but to get people to believe KOHO was truly different, we needed to bring this idea to life in a radically different, very “unbank-like” way.


Our strategy centred on creating truly compelling content that people would willingly seek out and share. To compete for “ever-shorter attention spans”, we took a radically different approach by producing longer not shorter content. 13-minutes instead of 6-seconds. We also spent almost 80% of its marketing budget to produce that single piece of content, to help make it be the best realization of the script as possible.


The 13-minute long ‘Dream Thieves’ premiered at the Fringe Film Festival in Toronto on July 13th, 2018 and was released on-line on YouTube immediately afterwards. We did not pay for any promoted posts or traditional media. People were driven to the film through organic shares, PR, and industry media. The film has garnered 1.4 million views to date.


We took a radical approach that dispensed with traditional advertising working/non-working spend ratio opting to spend 80% of our entire budget on the production of the film itself. With zero money spent on promoted posts or media, our film received 1.4 million views, an astonishing 52,000 + hours of viewing time, 130+ news stories, and most importantly – a 200% increase in new customer acquisition.

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2019, KOHO

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