CASSIES Silver: Canadian Tire celebrates unsung heroes

Aiming to connect athletes to people, Jonathan Toews and a cast of "everyday heroes" took centre stage in "Team Photo."
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Events, Seasonal and Short-Term

Situation Analysis: Canadian Tire had come under increasing competitive pressure from retailers promising similar product assortments and pricing, raising the need to reignite consumers’ emotional connection with the brand. To leverage how deeply rooted Canadian Tire was in Canadian life and community compared to its competitors, it sponsored the World Juniors and Hockey Canada/Canadian Olympic Hockey. Canadian Tire had sponsored hockey before, but had never been able to activate an idea across the breadth of their offering beyond the sporting goods department.

Insight & Strategy: Canadian Tire had been supporting hockey through local dealers since its founding in 1922, while Jonathan Toews, Canadian Tire’s hockey spokesperson, had deep connections to both sponsored organizations. But the sponsorship needed to reach beyond just elite sports; Canadian Tire sold more in wiper blades alone than the entire sporting goods section. The initiative needed a more inclusive approach, connecting the athletes to people. For Canadian families, play is becoming less inclusive and accessible, while a brand truth for Canadian Tire is “a place where families can come together.” These led to a proposition of “Canadian Tire helps families, so they can enjoy play more.”

Execution: The execution focused on the community in Winnipeg that helped Jonathan Toews achieve his goals. Key to the creative was a team photo featuring Toews surrounded by the 300+ everyday heroes from Winnipeg who had helped him, with the copy line, “There’s no such thing as an unassisted goal.” To go beyond sporting goods, it showed rink flooders with their hoses bought in the garden department, the pre-game meal-making moms buying their supplies in cookware and the carpoolers who got their tires and GPS systems from automotive.

POP featuring the heroes was placed in the appropriate departments throughout Canadian Tire stores. Launched on Dec. 26, 2013, Team Photo consisted of one 60-second and two 30-second spots, together with four executions featuring specific community helper groups. A documentary feature was created in partnership with CBC, along with 15 online mini-documentaries. “Team Photo” was also promoted via a campaign website, social media, PR, in-store, OOH and digital.

Results: Against targets to drive sponsorship awareness, engage internal and external audiences, and improve emotional connection to the brand, the campaign was a huge success. Canadian Tire ranked fourth out of 49 companies in Olympic sponsorship awareness, surpassed only by three worldwide sponsors. Online ad awareness was quadruple independent norms while those who had seen “Team Photo” had a significantly better impression of the company across all measured attributes than those who had not seen it.

Cause & Effect: The CBC Team Photo documentary attracted 1.9 million viewers (a Maple Leafs versus Canadiens average Saturday night audience is two million). The “Team Photo” visual became a jacket worn by Don Cherry in over five minutes of camera time on Hockey Day in Canada (estimated $1.6 million PR value.) There were no significant changes to pricing, distribution or unusual promotional activity.

Client: Canadian Tire
COO: Allan MacDonald
SVP marketing: T.J. Flood
VP strategic marketing: Susan O’Brien
AVP marketing: Cindy Graham
Marketing manager, strategic marketing: Jennifer Haslam
Associate marketing manager, brand: Sandy Bobnar
Marketing manager, Canadian Tire brand: Aubrey Lovery
Manager, brand compliance, merchandising & licensing, sport partnership: Sonia Canonico
Advisor, professional sport partnership: Stuart Craig
Specialist, strategic marketing: Mitchell Stratton
Strategic marketing coordinator: Meghan Darroch
Communications advisor: Leah Gaucher
Agency: Cleansheet Communications
Co-founder & chief storyteller: Neil McOstrich
Co-founder, president, COO, strategy: Catherine Frank
Group head: Sasha Volkau
Group integrator: Pat Rawluk
Sr. AD: Scott Shymko
Sr. account supervisor: Sarah Gray
Account director: Dennis Mayer
Production director: Deb Flippance
Account supervisor: Alex Kagan
Digital AD: Denny Kurien
Designer: Christian von Seydlitz
Account coordinators: Ravneet Kaur, Selva Akar
Digital lead: Greg Damus
CWs: Thomas Tevlin, Steph Braun
AD: David Glen
Media agency: Touché!
PR agency: North Strategic
Translation services: The Montreal Office
Other: Fuse Marketing
Broadcast producer: Nansi Thomas
Other partners: Attest Productions, Partners Film Company, David Fleury Music, Fort York, CBC, Silent Joe, Rooster