Stuck on an Escalator for Becel Heart Makeover

Becel Margarine (Unilever) is offering hope to people who are unable or unwilling to exert themselves. It’s the Becel Heart Makeover, a competition for access to a personal trainer, life coach and more. Some need it more than others, as can be seen in the Becel Broken Escalator TV ad. A man and a woman find themselves stranded on escalators when they break down. After much shouting they manage to solicit the services of a serviceman. Unfortunately he’s also stranded when his escalator stalls. As we wait patiently with the three stuck escalator travellers we discover not only that the building is empty, but it also makes nice echoes.

Becel Broken Escalator scene

The ad was aired on TV in a 30 second edit before going viral in a 2 minute version. According to the Ogilvy Canada blog, Meanwhile, the contest was a huge success with close to 350,000 hits to the site.

Broken Escalator Credits

The Becel Broken Escalator ad was developed at Ogilvy Canada, Toronto, by creative directors Janet Kestin and Nancy Vonk, art director/copywriter Tim Piper, art director Mike Kirkland, agency producer Brenda Surminski.

Filming was shot by Tim Piper with Steam Films, with producer Joan Bell and director of photography Glen Keenan.

Filming was edited by Michelle Czukar at Panic and Bob. Music and sound were done at Vapor Music. Transfer was done by Demetri Kitsopoulos.

The Becel Escalator spot won a silver Kinsale Shark award in October 2006. Keith McArthur at The Globe and Mail listed Broken Elevator as the third best Canadian ad of 2006. The spot won an award at the Advertising & Design Club of Canada.

The stuck elevator concept is a well worn comedic device, found in two line gags in stand up routines. Tim Piper, back when he was working for Clemenger BBDO Adelaide, was encouraged by his colleagues to interpret the concept in short film. With a low budget Piper wrote and directed the short film in 2003, airing it in 2004 in a short film festival he’d started.


The Becel Escalator ad is being passed around Republican circles in the lead up to the 2008 USA Presidential Elections, labelled “Democrats on an Escalator”.

Saturday Night Live

In October 2004 the stuck escalator concept was played out in a humorous Saturday Night Live skit, starring Ben Affleck, Will Forte, Rachel Dratch, Chris Parnell, Amy Poehler, Rob Riggle, Maya Rudolph, and Horatio Sanz. Things go shockingly wrong in Woodfield Mall, Schaumburgh, Illinois…

Read the script here.