CASSIES Silver: Canadian Tire gives the unexpected

The retailer countered consumer perceptions by highlighting its range of products.

This story appears in the February/March 2016 issue of strategy.

Silver: Long Term Success

Situation Analysis:

While Canadian Tire competes across a diverse range of categories, there were three categories where they had maintained a low profile; electronics, apparel and children’s toys, categories that dominate Christmas gifts. This negatively impacted consumer perceptions about Canadian Tire carrying ‘new and different’ products at this crucial time of year, despite the reality of 90,000 SKUs in a host of categories. Consumers needed to be made aware each year that Canadian Tire could in fact meet their gifting needs.

Insight & Strategy:

To communicate the range of ‘Unexpected Gifts,’ between eight and 10 unexpected products were selected for TV each year, including everything from fun gifts for foodies (a Pizza BBQ) to never-before-seen gifts for kids (a backyard hockey rink in a box). The curated list offered products that were always slightly familiar (a pizza oven), but had a uniqueness to them that piqued interest (a pizza oven that was propane powered and portable).


Running nationally before the holidays from 2012 to 2014 with an annual spend of $3 to $4 million, “Unexpected Gifts” appeared on TV (15-second ads), YouTube pre-roll, social media, OOH, in-store POP and the Canadian Tire flyer and “Destination Guide” promotional space. Television featured Canadian Tire spokesperson Gary, sitting by a roaring fire, offering Unexpected Gift advice to individuals struggling to find the perfect gift. As tracking showed the idea performed best when consumers saw more than one product in quick succession, commercials aired together in cluster pairs.


Compared to a benchmark of 2011, category gift sales increased by 1% in 2012, 19% in 2013, and 53% in 2014.

Branded recall for ‘Unexpected Gifts’ was almost two times higher than norm, and prompted recall grew year over year to exceed norm. Brand link ratio score also increased year over year. Tracking proved that once the consumer saw four or more ads, they were much more likely to agree that “Canadian Tire sells new and different products,” and they were more interested in shopping there.

Cause & Effect:

Campaigns spending levels were consistent year to year with no significant changes in pricing or distribution.


Client: Canadian Tire

SVP marketing: TJ Flood

VP marketing: Susan O’Brian

AVP marketing: Eva Salem

Marketing managers: Natalya Lukie, Elayne Lyons

Marketing Specialist: Natalia Kardys, Marsha Robertson

Agency: Taxi

Directors: Daniel Sheppard, Adam and Dave, Jun Diaz

CDs: Tom Greco, Irfan Khan

ECD: Darren Clarke

CWs: Renee Bhavnani, Tom Greco

ADs: Michael Siegers, Colin Brown

Producers: Megan Flett, Sarah Moen

Line producers: Shannon Barnes, Andrew Graham, Cindy Marshall

Group account directors: Agatha Wronecka, Lesley Rivard

Account directors: Stephanie Santiago

Account supervisors: Amy Greenspoon, Patti Ann Cochren

Account managers: Kelly Mark, Casey Mendoza, Eric Fitzpatrick

Canadian Tire – Unexpected Gifts:


Client Credits: Canadian Tire Retail

TJ Flood, SVP Marketing

Susan O’Brian, VP Marketing

Eva Salem, AVP Marketing

Natalya Lukie, Elayne Lyons, Marketing Manager

Natalia Kardys, Marsha Robertson, Marketing Specialist


Agency Credits: TAXI

Daniel Sheppard, Adam and Dave, Jun Diaz, Directors

Tom Greco, Irfan Khan, Creative Directors

Darren Clarke, Executive Creative Director

Renee Bhavnani, Tom Greco, Writers

Michael Siegers, Colin Brown, Art Directors

Megan Flett, Sarah Moen, Producers

Shannon Barnes, Andrew Graham, Cindy Marshall, Line Producers

Agatha Wronecka, Lesley Rivard, Group Account Directors

Stephanie Santiago, Account Directors

Amy Greenspoon, Patti Ann Cochren, Account Supervisors

Kelly Mark, Casey Mendoza, Eric Fitzpatrick, Account Managers