Canadian Olympic Committee says ‘it’s time’ to use our strength for recovery

The Tokyo games may be postponed, but the organization still released a campaign to learn how to create more active Team Canada fans.
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With this year’s Tokyo games postponed until next year, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) is employing Olympic-style determination to instead move from response to the recovery stage of the pandemic, as the organization looks to continue to build brand affinity and grow its fan segmentation in its latest campaign.

As part of its long-term “Return To Sport” marketing campaign, the COC released a spot on Tuesday, entitled “Our defining moment,” designed to help inspire and motivate Canadians to lean into Olympic values of determination, strength and courage to thrive during these uncertain times.

A 60-second version of the spot – created by Camp Jefferson – shows the defining moment of Canadian Olympic athletes’ lives, “ones that determine who we are from that moment on” and challenge them “to act, to be stronger, to overcome any obstacle [and] persevere” through any kind of adversity.

One of the goals of the campaign is to motivate Canadians to “stay focused” now “as we all return to sport and life safely, with the goal to help make Canada safe,” says Jacqueline Ryan, chief brand and commercial officer at the COC.

Ryan notes that the COC’s marketing goals have, obviously, changed since the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in March as a result of the pandemic. The COC’s marketing plans had been similar to past Olympic years, including campaigns related to telling the stories of both the Canadian Olympic athletes and the Olympic movement itself, as well as plans to engage Olympic partners to optimize and activate the COC’s marketing properties.

“This pivot came because Canadians needed it, and there was a role for Team Canada to play to help flatten the curve,” Ryan says.

One of the roles Team Canada played to “help flatten the curve” was by rallying Canadians to come together and play their part to stop the spread of COVID-19, Ryan adds, with the “We Are All Team Canada” campaign in March, which prompted Canadians to make a motivational sign, with such a slogan, and hang it to cheer on and support their peers.

Ryan says the “We Are All Team Canada” campaign was also to ensure that the decision to not send Team Canada athletes to Tokyo was “not made in vain.”

The COC still has the Tokyo Games in mind, though.  While 80% of Canadians consider themselves “fans” of Team Canada, the COC is looking to convert them from passive to active fans of the Olympics and Olympic sports. It is spending a lot of time on fan segmentation and encouraging the growth of its fans from those who are passive, to becoming active fans of Olympic sports and the Olympic games.

“[We’re] using this campaign to engage our fans, to take that learning and then leverage it to build out and deepen our audiences, and build that brand equity over time,” Ryan says.

Ryan adds that since the campaign is primarily digital, it provides the COC a greater opportunity to better understand its fan segments, and what content passive fans, or game-specific fans, they’re most interested in and that’s most relevant to them. It will be putting those learning to use in both broadcast and digital ads, as well as local fan engagement and experiential activations, when those become a safe option again.

The new hero spot will appear in 15- and 30-second cuts in both English and French, with paid buys on social platforms  and broadcast websites. An OOH element launching in late August on digital screens in CF malls across Canada. OMD handled the media buy.