Bombardier focuses on innovation for Canada Day

The company returns to advertising following some 'tough times' for its brand reputation.

Bombardier has returned to the advertising scene with a Canada Day social spot focused on innovation, following a long marketing hiatus for the company.

The video, created internally at Bombardier, focuses on Canadian inventions that have changed the world, including insulin, light bulbs, zippers and the telephone. The final seconds highlight some of Bombardier’s own inventions, including the C-Series jet, the Innovia rapid transit system and, most recently, the Global 7500 business aircraft, first deployed in December 2018. The campaign launched on June 27 and will run until July 4 on the company’s  social channels.

The “golden age” of Bombardier advertising dates back to 2010, says Olivier Marcil, VP of external relations. That year, a company engineer was asked to design the torch for the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, and the company deployed a campaign that was “built on pride of this great Canadian company exporting our products all over the world.”

But the brand has been relatively quiet since then, having been through “tough times” over the last several years, with its brand reputation taking a “bit of a hit” as a result, admits Marcil.

Last year, Bombardier sold its C-Series aircraft program to Airbus SE, and last week, it sold its regional jet business to Mitsubishi Heavy Industries – ending its 33 year-run in commercial aerospace. The company has also faced difficulties within its transportation unit, failing to meet delivery deadlines for rail and public transit projects in Toronto and New York.

But Marcil says Bombardier believes those struggles are mostly passed, adding that the “future of the company is clearer than ever.” He says Bombardier “felt it was a good moment to remind Canadians that we are probably one of the largest innovators in the country, for sure the [private company] that invests the most in R&D.”

Over the last six years, Bombardier has spent roughly $2 billion per year on R&D, according to Marcil. “With this, we are developing high-innovative, high-technology products, and in fact it’s in our DNA, and we like to think that our DNA comes from our founder and from our roots, which are Canadian.”

The campaign nods to those roots on an occasion where patriotic sentiment is high, while also promoting the innovation behind its latest business jet, the Global 7500. Traditionally, Marcil says a lot more attention has been brought to its products in commercial aviation, such as the C-Series jet. With this spot, it hopes to reach all Canadians, as fewer people were aware of its offering in business aviation, he says. “The reality is the bulk of our job, the art of Bombardier in aviation, has always been the business jet.”

The goal of “We Create” is to drive awareness of that side of its business and remind Canadians that the company isn’t leaving the aviation space altogether since the Mitsubishi deal, Marcil says. “We’re just refocusing our activities on markets and products where we are stronger and we have a better position for growth.”

The company does not currently have any other campaigns planned on the short-term, as its main focus remains on operations, according to Marcil.

“When you’re in a tough financial moment and you have to turn around a company, you come back to the basics, which is execution of operations, making sure that you strengthen your balance sheet,” he says. “All these are things we have done since 2015. But a company that expects to grow in the future needs to also do a bit more in terms of promotion, and that’s what we wanted to do.”

Farweb helped produce the video, and Montreal-based agency Zone Franche is lending support on PR.