Big Fran, a Bingo-Lovin' Sasquatch, Stars for Casino Time

Why not play in a cave or the bush?

When Toronto agency Sister Merci brainstormed ideas for a different kind of online gaming campaign—one that would slice through the increasingly noisy category clutter—casting a Sasquatch as the central character roared to mind. Go figure.

Actually, Big Fran, the shaggy star of Casino Time spots that dropped last week, doesn't roar, grunt or growl. She speaks perfect English—and uses opposable thumbs to work a touchscreen with the best of them.

Casino Time | Bingo

She's less wild than Jack Link's berserk Bigfoot, though not as well-traveled as that hairy dude Trainline rolled out last year.

Still, she's a sanguine spokes-creature who's always up for bingo and blackjack from the comfort of her cave or the sun-splashed forest. That surely counts for something.

Casino Time | Big Fran

"Estonian actor Piret Jõgeda wasn't meant to be a Sasquatch at all," Sister Merci founding partner and CCO Amanda Wood tells Muse. "Our casting agency had actually submitted her for a non-speaking role as one of the bingo ladies. But as soon as we saw her audition video, we knew we’d found our Fran."

High praise—probably. Maybe she can play a human next time.

"We wanted Fran to feel like a real 'person,' so we intentionally kept the facial prosthetics to a minimum," Wood says. "We added a large, broad nose and a Neanderthal-style brow ridge, but left the rest of her face unobscured, so that her expressions could easily be read."

Big foreheads are all the rage in ads these days, what with Caveman and Frankenstein's monster appearing for Geico.

"Piret brought so much more to the character that we hadn’t even thought about: her deep raspy voice, her outspoken nature, her love for Pinot Grigio! She was very willing to experiment, too, which made her really fun to work with."

Requisite on-the-set anecdotes, coming in hot:

"We shot the cave scene in a public conservation area and it was pretty entertaining to see the double-takes from dog walkers and joggers," Wood recalls. 

"The suit's literal big feet, big hands and thick padding made it pretty tough to move in. Watching three PAs trying to help her out of a hatchback is a scene we won't soon forget."

Such spectacles could be repeated around Ontario this summer, as Fran hits the road for brand activations.


Agency: Sister Merci
Creative Director: Amanda Wood
Writer: Leah Whitney
Art Director: Kat Tapp

Production Company: Headford Productions
Director: Michael Headford
Executive Producer: Michael Headford
Producer: Michael James Regan
DP: Nik Pilecki
Editor: Michael Headford
Colour/VFX Studio: Studio Feather
Audio Post House: Audiomancy

Key HMU: Natalia Andrea Pozo
HMU Assist: Gabrielle Jovellanos 
FX STUDIO: Stefaniuk FX Studio 
Wardrobe: Melissa Bessey

David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is managing editor at Clio Awards.

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