CASSIES Gold: Canadian Tire breaks records from a cold start

The retailer brought a new meaning to winter in Canada with its "Ice Truck," while driving car battery sales.

CTiceTRUCK3This story appears in the February/March 2015 issue of strategy

Events, Seasonal & Short-Term

Situation Analysis: The products and services needed to prepare a car for a Canadian winter (like winter tires, winter washer fluid/blades and an engine check) were well established, but car batteries were viewed as a grudge purchase – “I buy one when it breaks” – not a proactive, preventative one. Could drivers be made to care about their battery coming into the depths of winter and increase sales of MotoMaster Eliminator AGM batteries by 10%?

Insight & Strategy: Canadians had to be made to question if their battery could last the winter. Canadian Tire exhaustively tests its batteries in product development, and, while it would have been very easy to bring any stage of that to life in an ad, only a small minority of car nuts would have been engaged. To demonstrate the efficacy of the MotoMaster Eliminator AGM, a battery guaranteed to start even at –40 C, the brand would create the most extreme winter situation a battery could be placed into; a communication strategy that would be relatable, easy to digest, believable and interesting.

Exrcution: Canadians often describe their vehicles as “cold as ice,” leading to the creation of the first-ever driveable ice truck, which would be started by a battery frozen to –40 C. To counter the risk of the “Ice Truck” being seen as a hoax, a making-of documentary was produced, the footage becoming an integral part of the campaign.

The campaign was launched with a 60-second TV spot (English and French) that aired only on Jan. 1 during the 2014 NHL Winter Classic, followed by a 30-second TV spot (English and French) that aired throughout January. A three-minute making-of documentary aired online along with two “Ice Truck” melt videos (30-second and two-minute versions). It was supported by standard IAB digital banners, a drive through Hensall, ON, social media posts and ads, and extensive PR.

CTiceTRUCK5Results: With a target to grow the battery’s sales by 10% across January and February, sales increased by 70% compared to the prior year, setting a record for the auto division and lifting the retailer’s battery category by 24.6%. Against the secondary target of showing that Canadian Tire offers products made for life in Canada, tracking results indicated 57% of consumers believed this to be true, up from the 46% achieved in the previous winter automotive campaign.

Cause & Effect: The MotoMaster Eliminator AGM is an ultra-premium battery that can cost at least 50% more than other batteries and was an existing, widely distributed product. Spending was on par with prior auto efforts and there had been no unusual pricing or promotional activity. The battery’s efficacy was recognized by 61% of consumers (12% more than typical industry scores) while one in four wanted to buy the product after seeing the ad. The story was picked up by media outlets around Canada and the world.

Client: Canadian Tire
VP strategic marketing: Susan O’Brien
Consultant: Andrew Barrett
Marketing manager, strategic marketing: Chris Lee
Associate manager, strategic marketing: Natalia Paruzel-Gibson
Marketing coordinator, strategic marketing: Amir Kolia
Agency: Taxi
ECD: Darren Clarke
CD: Irfan Khan
Sr. AD: Colin Brown
AD: Michael Siegers
CW: Rene Bhavnani
Sr. producer: Sarah Moen
Group account director: Lesley Rivard
Account director: Trevor Byrne
Director: David Hicks
Producer: Jeff Darragh
Other partners: School Editing, Eggplant, Sons & Daughters, Iceculture, Fuse Marketing Group, North Strategic, Notch Video, Canova Media, Touché!