Canadian Tire documents a community

The retailer has partnered with the CBC to air a documentary with footage captured during the making of its Team Photo project.


Canadian Tire has gotten serious about content for its “We All Play For Canada” campaign ahead of the Sochi Olympics.

The retailer is in the midst of a national campaign, built around Team Canada’s alternate captain Jonathan Toews, that includes three TV spots, a digital hub, 14 short digital documentaries and a full documentary to be broadcast on the CBC.

With creative by Cleansheet Communications and media by Touche!, the campaign is billed as the world’s biggest Team Photo project and revolves around Toews and 300 members from his community in Winnipeg who helped him achieve his hockey goals, from his parents to a rink flooder.

Neil McOstrich, CD at Cleansheet, says the agency spent five days recording video and putting together the photo at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, and left with so much footage, including interviews with many of the individuals who had helped shaped Toews’s career, they decided to create an interactive online experience at, where users can scroll over the team photo and click on people in the picture to view their story. At the end of each documentary, the viewer is invited to tell their own story about helping others enjoy play.

That’s part of the retailer’s move to ramp up its digital content, including its recent “Ice Truck” campaign, where a TV spot aired during the NHL Winter Classic was supported with additional spots on the truck’s creation and drive.

Cleansheet and Canadian Tire felt they could do even more with the footage, so the brand approached the CBC about making a documentary. The broadcaster edited the footage and put together a 20-minute doc, which is scheduled to air Saturday, Feb. 15 in the midst of the Olympic Games.

Susan O’Brien, VP strategic marketing at Canadian Tire, says the CBC led the documentary-making process to ensure it felt genuine and would be something people want to watch. However, she feels that the brand’s association with Toews, the subtle references in the doc to the Maple Leaf-shaped team photo from the ad, as well as ad placement on the CBC during the doc will all create a strong link back to the brand.

“[The CBC was] able to tell a very different type of story, all on the same theme, than we tell,” O’Brien says. “I would say we have one perspective on the people that supported him, where they tie it together in a more thematic way.”

O’Brien adds that the campaign’s goal is to increase brand affinity, as opposed to its “Canada’s Store” campaign, which is meant to sell product. She said it was too early to provide results from this campaign but that the feedback has been positive.

Canadian Tire will leverage its owned media, like Facebook, as well as paid digital advertising to drive people to the microsite’s content, including 14 videos featuring individuals who supported Toews.

The campaign, which debuted during the World Junior Hockey Championships, will continue to run throughout the 2014 Sochi Games. It is a follow-up to the “Anthem” campaign launched in the summer, geared toward getting Canadians more active.