Canadian Tire flies the flag at new heights

For Canada Day, the retailer takes the chance to show it values the same things as people across the country.

Given its name and history, you’d expect Canadian Tire would do something for Canada Day on July 1. But this year also marks the 50th anniversary of the Canadian flag, flown for the first time at Parliament Hill on Feb. 15, 1965, so the retailer has zeroed in on the milestone for a new spot to show it also values the same things Canadians do.

In a new video, a climber scales an ocean-side cliff in Newfoundland, a mountain in Squamish, B.C. and a construction crane in Toronto, flying the flag at some of the tallest points on either side of the country and in between.

The video, running online and on TV, was produced by Notch Video, with Touche! on the media buy. Canadians who want to show their own pride for how and where they fly their flag and participate in the conversation can do so on Twitter and Instagram with “#FlyYourCdnFlag.”

Susan O’Brien, VP of marketing at Canadian Tire, says focusing on the flag this Canada Day was done, at least in part, out of sense of obligation for a retailer that has built itself on being part of the country’s landscape.

“Knowing it’s the 50th anniversary of our flag and with our deep retail heritage in Canada, we felt like a Canadian retailer should pay tribute to it,” she says. “Despite the fact that the geography and population is so diverse, when it comes to being proud of being Canadian, we all rally together behind the flag.”

While Canadian Tire has been focused on its products in campaigns, such as in its “Tested for Life in Canada” platform, that also means focusing on the emotional side of life in Canada.

“Our positioning is about knowing life in Canada better than any other retailer, so it’s literally our job to know Canada,” O’Brien says, adding that the retailer’s marketing strategy often fits into one of two buckets. “One is demonstrating, through our products and services, that we understand Canada. That might be a shovel that works better than any other because we know snow, or a battery that starts at -40 degrees. The other is to demonstrate to Canadians how much we care about them and the things that are important to them and finding opportunities to show that.”

O’Brien says adding the focus on the emotional connection to Canada became a major element of the retailer’s strategy following the success of “We All Play For Canada.”

“Admittedly, when we started that campaign, we thought it was going to be hard to go from being full-on, retail- and product-focused, to this emotional side of the brand we hadn’t pulled out in a lot of years,” she says. “It was shocking the response we got to that, and it gave us the courage and made us realize it’s just as important to say how much we care about all Canadians and the things they value as it is to tell them about the stuff that we sell.”