Developers back unity

Land developer Cadillac Fairview has spearheaded a grassroots national unity campaign in which about 2.5 million 'Friendship Cards' are to be signed by ordinary Canadians across English Canada and mailed to households in Quebec.'Speak up for Canada - We Belong Together'...

Land developer Cadillac Fairview has spearheaded a grassroots national unity campaign in which about 2.5 million ‘Friendship Cards’ are to be signed by ordinary Canadians across English Canada and mailed to households in Quebec.

‘Speak up for Canada – We Belong Together’ is being sponsored by some of the country’s largest shopping centre developers and their client retail chains.

The Friendship Cards carry a message, written in French and English, in support of Canadian unity.

They are being made available for signing in participating malls and retail outlets.

Elliott Ettenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of Prism Advertising, the ad agency responsible for coming up with the campaign concept and working out the details, says ‘the whole basis for the idea is that it is time for ordinary English-Canadians to speak to ordinary Quebecers.’

Ettenberg says that while politicians and business leaders on all sides of the unity debate have demanded their turn at the public microphone, ordinary families have not yet been given the chance to make their feelings known to other families.

Ettenberg says the idea for a grassroots unity initiative grew out of a conversation he had earlier in the year with Jim Bullock, chief executive officer at Cadillac Fairview.

Ettenberg, whose agency works for the Toronto-based land developer and shopping mall manager, says Bullock was concerned that although people across the country were talking about doing something concrete in support of national unity, nothing was being done.

Ettenberg says he left the meeting with a request from Bullock to give some thought to a ‘way we could get adult Canadians to talk to one another.’

The campaign, which will involve more than 160 shopping malls in every province except Quebec, kicked off June 9 and will come to a close in late August.

Other shopping centre developers backing the program are Cambridge Shopping Centres, Marathon Realty, Trilea Centres, all of Toronto, and Laing Properties, of Brantford, Ont.

Major retailers that have offered space in their stores for card-signing booths include The Bay and Zellers, both owned by Hudson’s Bay, Sears Canada and Eaton’s.

A&W Food Services of Canada, which operates a national chain of fast-food restaurants, has also indicated a willingness to take part.

Sears Canada has arranged to have its trucking company, Sears Line Haul, pick up the signed Friendship Cards at distribution centres across the country and take them to Montreal’s main post office for mailing.

$2 million raised

Keith McDevitt, a Prism account executive who has been overseeing the agency’s involvement in the program, says nearly $2 million has been raised from sponsors towards a tv advertising campaign.

McDevitt adds broadcasters have generally agreed to support the program by ‘matching us dollar for dollar.’

As well, Toronto-based Mediacom has agreed to rent poster space at a substantial discount in its mall media properties.

Print advertising will be placed and funded by participating malls and retailers.

Creative is by Prism copywriter Debra Richman and art director Ian Mason.

Prism has offices in Toronto and Montreal. PA