CASSIES Bronze: Canadian Tire takes its Canadianness to digital

The retailer reinvented its catalogue online, featuring real people's stories and their passions.

Events, Seasonal, Short Term

Situation Analysis: In 2007, Canadian Tire had made the decision to phase out its iconic seasonal catalogue, delivered to six million homes twice a year for nearly 90 years. Meanwhile, circulation of the Canadian Tire flyer (and its digital version) had, by 2012, increased to more than 11 million a week. While the flyer drove traffic and sales Friday to Sunday, traffic during the other four days of the week had slowed, making Canadian Tire increasingly reliant on the functional/sales driven weekend flyer, which was heavily focused on discounting. Full-priced items and “big ticket” products, which had been historically promoted via the catalogue, were taking a hit. Although shoppers continued to spend on their functional needs, they had begun turning elsewhere for inspirational items. The result was stagnation: Canadian Tire had failed to hit its growth targets between 2010 and 2012. The retailer had to re-connect with its customers on an emotional level, not just a functional one, across the store and across the week.

Insight & Strategy: What had made the Canadian Tire catalogue special, while helping Canadians make the most of the jobs and joys of life in Canada, had been its authentic reflection of Canada’s way of life. This contrasted with other retail catalogues and magazines which had tended to portray contrived scenarios of idealized people and fake situations. Although no longer financially viable in printed form, digital advances meant the Canadian Tire catalogue could be re-invented. Updated every season, “The Canadian Way” would be an evolving entity, powered by real Canadians telling their stories with sincerity and passion.

Execution: Developed in HTML5, “The Canadian Way” was a tablet-friendly, low-bandwidth and full-browser digital catalogue. Using social media, real stories had been collected from across the country so the editorials and interactive videos could feature real Canadians and their passions, showing how Canadian Tire stores helped them do the things they loved. When launched in early April 2013, “The Canadian Way of Spring” catalogue featured 60 pages and 300 Canadian Tire products, with details, prices and links to Paid awareness for “The Canadian Way” was driven by a national digital media campaign which ran for six weeks during April and May 2013. Canadian Tire also heavily leveraged its owned channels, such as (the most visited retail brand site in Canada), to promote the launch of “The Canadian Way,” also communicating via a dedicated email to the subscriber database of more than one million people.

Results: “The Canadian Way of Spring” helped Canadian Tire have its best quarterly sales period in its entire 92-year history, generating a 2% same-store sales growth compared to the prior year. Response to the catalogue greatly exceeded targets. In the first six months, four million catalogue pages were viewed at an average of 15 pages per viewer spending six minutes on the site.

Cause & Effect: With no unusual promotional activity other than the addition of the digital catalogue and using same-store sales as the measure, “The Canadian Way” was the major new activity in the period.

Client: Canadian Tire Corporation
AVP of digital marketing & gift cards: Rosie Riolino-Serpa
AVP of digital operations & delivery: Shawn Farmer
Manager of digital experience: Vito Casalinuovo
Agency: DDB Canada
Digital agency: Tribal Worldwide
ACD: Mara Binudin
AD: Benson Ngo
CWs: Dmitry Zelikman, Tracy Wan, Santiago Fernandez-Concha
Editorial writers: Yuki Hayashi, Jennifer Krissilas
Design director: John Thai
Designers: Josiah Bilagot, Mirza Sakovic, Jean Lou Renoux & Barry Lachapelle
Director of technology: Joe Dee
Information architect: Dale McRae, Daniel Wiseman, Tony Di Ciero
Creative technologist: Paul Jara
Interactive developers: Paul Sham, Stephen Hobson & Brad Carson
Experience assurance: Enzo Licata
Sr. producer: Gaetano Carpino & Bonnie Chung
Producers: Chris Webden, Caroline Clarke & Neem BaHa
Director of production: Catherine Kim
Associate producer: Elizabeth Fitzpatrick
Managing director: Andrew McCartney
VP, strategy & innovation: Dino Demopoulos
Social media planner: Parker Mason
VP, business unit director: Kaezad Nallaseth
Account director: Nick Pigott
Account executive: Monica Bialobrzeski
Media agency: Mediacom
Group account director: Chris O’Hara
Associate account director: Andrew Tziatis
Other partners: Apollo Studios, Audio Z, RMW Music, Ole Clear, Talent Payment Services ULC, Hames TSE Photography, Brought To You By, Sons and Daughters Productions, Jigsaw Casting, Aon Reed Stenhouse, Blizzard Courier Services