Reitmans puts Canada’s diversity into the spotlight

The retailer brings a brand value that has informed much of its marketing to the forefront of its spring campaign, which includes a push into multicultural channels.

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Inclusivity has been an element of Reitmans’ marketing for the last several years, and is now being more explicit that diversity is worth celebrating in its new spring push, which includes an investment in multicultural marcom.

The retailer’s “Diversity is the Fabric of Canada” campaign features seven Canadian women from fields including arts, sports, fashion, media and entertainment. The pro-inclusivity message is highlighted by their narration, which amends the national anthem’s lyrics to things like “the truth north, strong, diverse and free,” emphasizing that many Canadians were not born here, or that the population includes Indigenous people whose roots go back far beyond when Canada was even a country.

Reitmans has made a point of showing a diverse range of women in its marketing in recent years, namely by using non-models who are not only inspiring trailblazers in whatever field they work in, but also reflect a range of different ages, sizes, backgrounds and abilities. But the equity message is usually implied more subtly, like in last year’s “Wear Your Support” campaign, which encouraged women to embrace who they are as a source of self-confidence.

“Diversity and inclusion as it the heart of everything we do,” says Valérie Vedrines, VP of marketing for the Reitmans, of its past marketing efforts. But according to its customer research, diversity and inclusivity are key concerns for the Reitmans shopper, something that’s also reflected in strong social media engagement with posts that reflect these ideas. That convinced the retailer to put diversity at the forefront of its spring campaign with a more overt message.

Reitmans continues to choose non-models to star in the campaign. The ambassadors include teacher and fashion designer Sandy Kaur Gill; the first Chinese-born principal dancer in the history of the National Ballet of Canada Chan Hon Goh; former hockey player Angela James; comedian and actress Mariana Mazza; entrepreneur Alexandra Diaz;  author and poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine; and hip-hop artist Sarahmée.

Each participated in the design of a pattern, reproduced on a T-shirt and scarf that reflects their style and cultural background. A tote bag was also created as part of the initiative, sold in stores and online, a proportion of which will go seven causes selected by the ambassadors, up to a maximum of $10,000.

The main campaign was created by Cossette, and adapted to Punjabi, Mandarin and Cantonese by Ethnicity Matters. Vedrines says the retailer began working with Ethnicity Matters in 2018 as an opportunity to learn more about the ethnic consumer, and since has expanded its investment in reaching the target.

In a Canada-wide contest as part of those efforts, Reitmans will also be giving 10 customers that are new to Canada a wardrobe worth $1,000, positioned by the retailer as something that can be worn to job interviews, citizenship ceremonies, holidays or special occasions. Winners will be determined based on a short essay on the subject of what makes Canada a great place to live.

Running until Canada Day, Vedrines says the approach is multi-layered, and using Reitmans’ entire marketing funnel. It also includes embracing TikTok, which she calls “a perfect way” to showcase its brand voice, part of a broader move to accelerate its efforts to engage with multicultural Canada by being “as present as possible” in different media.

The campaign spend is in line with previous efforts, Vedrines says, but on the higher end thanks to its 360-degree nature. It’s also being supported with in-store signage, a digital amplification campaign, as well as multicultural TV, digital and radio ads also translated into Punjabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.