BBDO Toronto and Harlequin send fictional heartthrobs on real-world dates

Ads, Advertising

BBDO Toronto and Harlequin send fictional heartthrobs on real-world dates, as part of a humorous new hidden-camera campaign encouraging women to “Make a Date with Harlequin”.

The first of two videos features a larger-than-life Viking on a bowling date with a modern, everyday woman. As the obviously mismatched couple enjoy an over-the-top encounter with one another, the audience gets to enjoy the gobsmacked reactions of the unsuspecting patrons. The second video showcases a cowboy, complete with horse and lasso, on a lunch date with a familiar, relatable woman.

Harlequin is all about taking our readers on romantic escapes; we loved the idea of bringing that notion to everyday life

Farah Mullick,

Senior Director of Marketing Harlequin

It was really quite nerve-racking watching from behind the curtain—you just never know how people are going to react (…) Luckily for us, we captured some really funny moments.

Joel Pylypiw,

Associate Creative Director BBDO Toronto

The online video campaign launched March 15 and is being supported with a targeted online buy, print ads, dedicated PR and blogger outreach as well as loyalty and event programs.

Harlequin, a Toronto-based company now owned by News Corp, has entertained women with their broad range of intrigue, suspense and romance novels since 1949. To date they have sold more than 6.28 billion books.

BBDO Canada  manages the communication needs of many of Canada’s largest and best-known brands and has consistently earned a creative reputation that places it among the top creative agencies in Canada.

Harlequin is a global publisher of commercial fiction and a worldwide leader in romance fiction, with titles issued worldwide in as many as 32 languages and sold in up to 93 international markets. The company publishes more than 110 titles monthly and more than 1,300 authors from around the world.


Client: Harlequin Enterprises

  • Creative Director, Romance Fiction: Tony Horvath
  • Senior Director of Marketing, Series & Digital Publishing: Farah Mullick
  • Director, Romance Publicity & Events: Michelle Renaud
  • Brand Manager, Retail Marketing: Beth Witkowski

Agency: BBDO Toronto

  • SVP, Executive Creative Director: Denise Rossetto
  • SVP, Executive Creative Director: Todd Mackie
  • VP, ACD, Art Director: Joel Pylypiw
  • VP, ACD, Copywriter: Chris Booth
  • Broadcast Producer: Tracey Azzopardi
  • Account Director: Paul Forrest
  • Account Supervisor: Zach Kula

Production Company: Circle Productions

  • Executive Producer: Andria Minott
  • Director: Timothy Hamilton
  • DOP:  Doug Koch
  • Producer: Erica Parks
  • PM: Warren Milando

Post House: Saints Editorial

  • Executive Producer: Stephanie Hickman
  • Editor: Stephen Sora

Audio House: Grayson Matthews

  • Producer: Kelly McCluskey