CASSIES Silver: Mark’s gets ready for winter

The retailer took advantage of a frigid winter to match discounts to temperatures.

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

Silver: Best Matching of Message to Medium(s)

Situation Analysis:

In January and February, retailers across the country experience significant declines in foot traffic while tasked with the common objective to clear out winter inventory to make way for spring. The inevitable outcome is a price point war across retailers. Mark’s had to find a way to break through with only a sales message. Typically for Mark’s post-holiday, flyer initiatives are used to tactically push remaining product. But with an ambitious 2015 business objective to increase comparative sales by 10% versus year ago, the question became whether flyers and low prices alone could achieve the goal.

Insight & Strategy:

While Mark’s urban Canadian male target takes pride in shopping for stylish apparel, a tangible necessity remains the dominant motivation to visit a store. As such, the strategy had to establish an undeniable need if the message was going to get through, which would entail questioning conventional creative and strategic approaches to clearance messaging, which would typically rely on simple media pushes, product benefits or low prices.

The opportunity lay in leveraging a key insight: weather is the first and most important trigger for the purchase of outerwear. Tying a winter apparel sale to weather would create the incentive needed to break through the saturated market noise.


Running from Feb. 2 to 22, 2015 during the coldest month of the year in the Toronto market with a spend of between $100,000 to $200,000, 29 Mark’s “Ready for Winter” transit ads, each execution within walking distance to a nearby store, became the first-ever digital transit ads informed by a live Weather Network feed to determine the sales offering for consumers. As the temperature dropped, so did Mark’s discounts on winter apparel. Product was not shown to ensure consumers were motivated to find out more, and instead visual weather cues were used to further drive home the need.


The flagship stores in Toronto experienced a 21% increase in comparable sales versus year ago, surpassing the objective of increasing sales by 10%.

Cause & Effect:

The 21% increase was 13% higher than non-participating Ontario Mark’s stores, and nearly four times greater than the national category norms which came in at only 4.7% during the month of February.


Client: Mark’s

VP marketing: David Lui

Senior manager, marketing planning: Penney McTaggart-Cowan

Senior VP marketing: Frederick Lecoq

AVP, marketing: Sabrina Lalonde

Campaign manager: Trudy Fraser

Senior manager, e-commerce: Kristine Arcand

Digital media manager: Wes Penrose

Media manager: Julia Shauf

Agency: Sid Lee

CDs: Jeffrey Da Silva, Tom Koukodimos

AD: Barbato Martiniello

CW: Emma Quiroz

VP, business growth & development: Jared Stein

Account managers: Nicki Franek, Kiara Wilson

Account coordinator: Sara Teasdale

VP, strategy: Dustin Rideout

Senior strategist: Josh Hansen

Print production: M&H Graphics

Director, integrated production: Karla Ramirez

Project manager: Phu Pham

Retoucher: John Forbes

Mac artist: Franco Piane

Media agency: Astral Out-of-Home