How Sobeys is feeding Olympic appetites

The "Feed the Dream" campaign is reaching across grocery banners to tap desire for sports and rally unity around Canada's athletes.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated-Empire launches -Feed the Dream- mov

Sobeys is setting the table for a big Olympics push.

“Feed the Dream” is a large integrated effort ahead of the Games that includes activations across TV, online video, OOH, social and digital, as well as Canadian Olympic Committee branding on the grocer’s private label offerings, fleet trucks, shopping bags and in-store end cap displays.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated-Empire launches -Feed the Dream- movThe campaign is based on the insight that regardless of level, whether it’s a five-year-old soccer player or world class athlete, achieving one’s potential is not a solo endeavour, but a team effort that includes family, friends, coaches and, of course, the food they eat.

That message is communicated across platforms, but there’s also an opportunity for consumers to have their messages of support stitched into a tablecloth that will include 1,200 patches forming a maple leaf mosaic. For those that don’t get a patch in-store, there’s also a digital version of the Team Canada tablecloth.

“[The campaign] ultimately brings to life and celebrates the emotional connection between food, family and sport,” says Erika DeHaas, Sobeys’ VP of marketing communications. She adds that’s been Sobeys’ positioning since 2019, when the banner first became the official grocer of the Olympic Games in Canada, but this year, former Canadian Olympic Committee CMO Derek Kent was also brought in to consult on the campaign’s development and message.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated-Empire launches -Feed the Dream- mov


The Olympics, postponed from last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are still facing a degree of uncertainty. Petitions calling for another postponement or for countries to pull out continue to gain tens of thousands of signatures. Strict health restrictions will include including daily tests and restrictions on outside contact, and on Thursday, both Pfizer and Moderna announced they would be donating vaccine doses to athletes that have not yet gotten their shots. On the audience side, major broadcast events – including the Super Bowl, Grammys and Oscars – have had significant dips in TV viewership.

But according to DeHaas, no sport unites people quite like the Olympics and that the games will serve to deepen Sobeys brand connection with executions across channels to generate excitement and engagement. She says there’s a pent up demand for sports with everyone under lockdown, and the Olympics provide nation-wide engagement. The campaign is also keen on the athlete support angle, as they are facing the added challenge of being cut off from family support due to the Games’ health restrictions.

“Now more than ever, given what we are all going through, we need the sense of unity and connection Canadians have gotten from the Olympics,” she says.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated-Empire launches -Feed the Dream- mov

There are end-cap displays of Sobeys’ roster of athletes, such as artistic gymnast Ellie Black and sprinter Andre De Grasse to inspire Sobeys staffers and shoppers alike.

Sobeys Capital Incorporated-Empire launches -Feed the Dream- movAnd as part of the partnership, Sobeys is creating exclusive products for its private label brands, focusing on seasonal relevancy, such as a maple leaf-shaped burger for summer grilling. It is also driving connection by on-pack with call outs for its Compliments line.

According to DeHaas, this is a different campaign approach from a marketing standpoint for Empire – while the campaign is rooted in the Sobeys brand, it will come to life across all banners.

“Each banners will remain distinct to who it is, but the ‘Feed the Dream’ message will be constant across all of them,” Dehaas says. That will also include Voila, which will be celebrating the partnership on its delivery trucks, team uniforms, website and social storytelling. There are also real-time offers tied to the Olympics.

Creative duties were split between FCB and BBDO. Media is being handled by UM, XM and athlete management by XMC, and PR and influencer management by North Strategic.