A 'Little Brat' Stars in This Irresistible Anthem for Kids With Cancer

Cossette's powerful ad for a Montreal hospital

At first, the little girl in Cossette's new film for Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation is bursting with energy. She races around the house, bounces on furniture, scribbles across a painting in the living room, and wolfs down spaghetti with her hands.

In other words, she's an average kid. Some folks, however, might view such behavior as bratty. Indeed, her antics, accompanied by a fresh take on the Clash's raucous 1979 cover of "I Fought the Law," reinforce this notion, as does the spot's title: "Long Live Little Brats."

Soon, however, this high-spirited sprite falls ill. As a subdued variation of "I Fought the Law" takes hold, we watch her visit the hospital, then lose her hair. By the end, she's battling leukemia, with her family's hopes and heartaches on vivid display:

The Children's Foundation - Long Live Little Brats

The spot's conclusion, while not entirely unexpected, still packs an emotional wallop: She recovers, and the upbeat version of "I Fought the Law" returns. Long live the little brat!

"We deliberately chose to stick with a positive message that differs from the traditional codes you'd expect in this category," Cossette vp of strategy Michel-Alex Lessard tells Muse. "By leaning into our insight that a healthy kid is a bratty kid, we've opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities and created a point of differentiation."

This marks the organization's first major fundraising drive in nearly 30 years, with an ambitious goal of $200 million.

"We hope that our 'Long Live Little Brats' platform will quite literally hit people in the feels," Lessard says. "We need donors, and our primary ambition is that it will become a rallying cry for Quebecers and remind parents everywhere that having children with endless supplies of brattiness is actually a blessing."

Cossette's Toronto office has long produced lauded—at times epically cinematic—campaigns for the SickKids Foundation in Ontario. This effort from the agency's Montreal office, for an entirely different hospital, has a different feel—more intense and intimate.

4zero1 director Benjamin Nicolas shot the two-and-a-half-minute film this summer. Owing to Covid safety restrictions, they used a real family for the cast. Mom's a working actor, but both her partner and 6-year-old Eugénie are making their professional debuts.

"The first scenes that we shot were ones where our little girl is battling leukemia and has lost all her hair, which means that our young actor had to wear a bald cap," recalls Anne-Claude Chénier, vp of creative advertising at Cossette. "Her reaction to seeing herself in the mirror was raw and honest—and as you can imagine, it was very emotional for her parents as well. They did a fantastic job of telling our story and brought such emotion to the scenes, thanks in part to the real relationships and love between them."

Striving to tell a rich, complex story, "we shot over 80 scenes with different seasonal decor so we could have a wider pool of shots to choose from," Chénier says. "With this footage, we were able to create a longer film that gives a fuller picture of our patient's journey and bring our donors on that journey with us."

As for the music selection, "we wanted a track that would feel unexpected coming from the Foundation," she says. "Although it may not be what you first think of when you think of kids, punk music was an easy choice because it conveys so much of the emotions depicted in our spot: joy, irreverence, anger, sadness. Punk music also happens to be a shared passion of the creative team that worked on the project." (Cossette global CCO Peter Ignazi, for one, is a big Clash fan.)

Music house Cult Nation produced the rollicking "I Fought the Law" cover, which was slowed down and embellished with effects to accompany scenes of the girl's illness.

Breaking this week, the campaign features 30- and 10-second edits for TV, radio spots, perolls, digital banners, print ads and out-of-home elements.

CREDITS

Client: The Montreal Children's Hospital Foundation
Renée Vézina, President of the Foundation
Kim Fraser, Vice-President, Communications and Marketing
Sylvie Desjardins, Communications Director

Agency: Cossette
Peter Ignazi, Global Chief Creative Officer
Anne-Claude Chénier, Vice-President, Creative Advertising
Michel-Alex. Lessard, Vice-President, Strategy
Patrick Michaud, Creative Director
Hugo Fournier, Strategy Director
Matthew McDonald, Senior Art Director
Layton Wu, Copywriter
Marc-André Vignault, Copywriter
Alex Jutras, Art Director
Richard Bélanger, Creative Director, Design + Branding  
Benoit Chapellier, Vice-President, Business Lead
Katherine Leftakis, Product Owner
Catherine Richard, Producer

Production House: 4zero1
Director: Benjamin Nicolas
DOP: Alexandre Nour

Sound & Music: Cult Nation

Media Agency: Cossette Média
Anne-Sophie Collins, Media Planner

PR Agency: The Colony Project
Axelle Techer, Account Director

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David Gianatasio
David Gianatasio is senior editor at Clio Awards.

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