Michael Brossard’s Golden Year

If Rona's Michael Brossard were to sum up his success in 2006, it could be boiled down to one word: Olympics.

If Rona’s Michael Brossard were to sum up his success in 2006, it could be boiled down to one word: Olympics.

Although Brossard, SVP marketing and development, landed an eight-year Olympic sponsorship deal for Rona in 2005 – beating out arch-rival Home Depot – it was at the 2006 Turin Olympic Winter Games that the company reaped brand rewards. Rona launched a major campaign around the Olympics and recruited Canadian athletes – Elvis Stojko, Susan Auch and Mélanie Turgeon – for a series of TV commercials that promoted the tagline: ‘Winning values. Let’s pass them on.’

It’s all part of a ‘Made in Canada’ strategy for the Boucherville, Que.-based company to position itself as the hometown choice of the home improvement world. The nationality card is something Brossard, who has worked in marketing for 29 years on such brands as Bauer Nike Hockey and Delisle before joining Rona in 2000, is not shy to play. ‘We are the Canadian how-to people,’ says the Quebec native who easily converses in both official languages. ‘We have ‘Proudly Canadian’ bolted right on our stores.’

Brossard is frank: His competitors also have good product, promotions and profits. But, he says, Rona’s heritage is the ‘tie-breaker.’

‘Being a Canadian company is something we’ve put a lot of emphasis on,’ he says. ‘The fact that we support more Canadian-based manufacturers and product is important [to customers].’ According to internal research, Rona’s Canadian identity is something consumers recognize and is a draw to the stores. The company’s roots also help it accrue more affiliates, says Brossard. Independent hardware stores are more comfortable joining a Canadian company. Last year, Rona recruited 35 indie stores for a total retail space of 305,000 feet and raked in an additional $197 million in retail sales.

The hockey fanatic, who has also coached kids in his hometown of St.-Jérôme, Que. for a decade, is also pushing aggressively on other fronts. The company held 27 ‘Run to Rona’ promotional events throughout the year, which were supported by 20 TV ad campaigns, featuring enthusiastic employees willing to do just about anything for customers – even morph into tools. The promotions allowed customers to triple their Air Miles points.

Other initiatives over the year included introducing gift cards, building awareness for Rona’s three-year-old credit card program and remodeling the company’s website.

Brossard also launched a ‘red carpet treatment’ program for Rona’s privileged suppliers, which include those that work exclusively with the chain. These suppliers are given increased visibility in Rona’s flyers and in-store campaigns which includes signage. In addition, consumers purchasing products from these suppliers get extra Air Miles points.

Of all the Marketer of the Year nominees this time around, Brossard is possibly the most famous. In Quebec, he hands out the prizes for Rona’s highly successful signature show Ma Maison Rona. The show features two couples competing in a renovation challenge to own the home of their dreams. It’s entering its fifth season and captures one million viewers in primetime. ‘[Ma Maison Rona] is my claim to fame,’ he says. ‘Every spring, everyone recognizes me.’