RBC unites over 50 brands in support of small business

The coalition aims to bring Bay Street and Main Street together with "Canada United," giving consumers a simple way to help.

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RBC is looking to drive critical awareness around the importance of small businesses and incentivize consumers to invest in them, as part of its national “Canada United” initiative.

The initiative, which launched last week, was created by the bank in partnership with the national Chamber of Commerce network, business associations, and more than 50 Canadian companies – consisting of notable consumer brands such as Tim Hortons, Boston Pizza, Canadian Tire, Roots and Staples.

This coalition is looking to motivate Canadians to buy, dine and shop local, with the goal of showing that small actions can have a big impact. To prove this, it is asking them to watch the initiative’s videos on the Canada United website, as well as like and share social posts related to the initiative. RBC will contribute 5 cents (up to $2 million max) for each view and like to the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF). RBC will work with government and corporate partners to source additional contributions to this fund throughout the campaign.

The CUSBRF will provide small businesses with grants of up to $5,000 to cover expenses such as PPE, renovations to be in line with reopening guidelines and creating or improving e-commerce capabilities. The funds will be issued by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, on behalf of the national Chamber network.

The 30-second Canada United video lays out what the initiative is all about, while showing shots of local businesses like bakeries and hat shops. Steph Morgan, VP of enterprise partnerships at RBC Ventures, says there were “in-kind” contributions from media sponsors like Corus, TLN and Postmedia. RBC estimates the average Canadian will be exposed to Canada United more than 23 times across national print and TV ads, social and digital amplification, in-store activations and more.

“We have some incredible partners that have this unity of purpose,” Morgan says. “If you think of a Canadian brand, I would say they’re within the coalition and a partner of ours.”

This “unity of purpose” centers around how Canada United brands all want to assist small businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19. According to a May Statistics Canada COVID-19 report, 60% of small businesses with one to four employees, and about 56% of those with five to 19 employees, reported revenue declines of 20% or more.

“[Small businesses are] incredibly important to us, given that they’re the heart of our economy,” Morgan says. “Our partners definitely feel that very same way – that Main Street and Bay Street need to come together. Given RBC’s unique position and reach, we put a great deal of thought into how we can best support consumers and businesses alike in getting back on their feet.’”

Not only are small businesses “the heart” of the economy, as Morgan describes – they’re also part of RBC’s client-base, making up more than one-fifth of the national market. However, small businesses, historically, have not been at the forefront of RBC’s marketing efforts, at least not to the same extent as other banks and financial institutions.

“This is definitely something we aim to extend and continue in the future,” Morgan says of small business initiatives like Canada United. “This isn’t something we’ve screamed and shouted about, historically. But given the negative impact COVID has had on small businesses, now is our time as RBC to support them.”