Tracy Fellows’ Evolution

For seven years, Canadian Tire had been milking the old 'Ted and Gloria' campaign, featuring the annoying, nerdy dad who never met a gadget he didn't like. But with the brand's increased emphasis on women shoppers and new products, Tracy Fellows, VP consumer advertising and marketing, decided it was time to scrap the tried-and-true - but tired - marketing strategy to create a more integrated one. She hit a homerun.

For seven years, Canadian Tire had been milking the old ‘Ted and Gloria’ campaign, featuring the annoying, nerdy dad who never met a gadget he didn’t like. But with the brand’s increased emphasis on women shoppers and new products, Tracy Fellows, VP consumer advertising and marketing, decided it was time to scrap the tried-and-true – but tired – marketing strategy to create a more integrated one. She hit a homerun.

Ron Smrczek, associate CD at Taxi, Canadian Tire’s new AOR, says Fellows, who has been with the retailer since early 2001 and was previously with Sobeys, is an ‘informed and instinctive’ marketer, who ‘has a good understanding of her customer and what they want.’ He says she understood that it was time to revamp the creative and offer a ‘slice-of-life from different cultures.’

Motivated to create a campaign that better highlighted the retailer’s product range, the result is the ‘Aisle Signs’ series, which launched in March 2006. An early ad features a woman who falls through a broken lawn chair after her husband tries to fix it with tape. A squeaky sign drops into the frame to remind viewers that new chairs are available at Canadian Tire.

‘In the past our brand spots were completely different from our product spots,’ says Fellows. ‘There was no linkage between them, so we were not creating critical mass in the marketplace.’

With the TV spots now seemingly on autopilot, one of Fellows’ most recent strategic moves has been to increase synergy among all platforms, including TV, in-store promotions and outdoor ad, to amplify ad spending. Over the past year, she advertised gift card promotions on TV, and even created new outdoor ads that linked to the in-store shopping experience.

Recently, OOH featured Rudolph, and noted that the celebrity reindeer’s red nose (which uses an actual lightbulb) may be purchased on Aisle 10 – the lighting department. And it also dovetails nicely with the company’s large-format store roll-out, which focuses on larger aisles, a bigger selection, and becoming more family-friendly.

‘Before the introduction of this campaign, we found it was difficult for a consumer to differentiate our ad from [those of] our competitors,’ says Fellows. Not any more. The ad campaign has boosted Canadian Tire’s consumer recall to 90% – ‘one of the highest in the industry,’ she says.

And while Canadian Tire’s new image might seem like an overhaul, it’s not. ‘What we wanted to do was build on our legacy and past,’ she says. ‘This is about evolution rather than revolution.’