Why CIBC is letting ambitions soar in its rebrand

A massive effort behind the new look aims to speak to 95% of Canadians about achieving their dreams over the next six weeks.


CIBC wants to speak to Canadians about their ambitions.

That’s what lies at the heart of a new campaign, which has launched alongside the bank’s rebranding effort as part of a larger transformation that has occurred within the organization over the past several years.

The fully-integrated campaign celebrates the launch of the bank’s new look, which Stephen Forbes, EVP of purpose, brand and corporate affairs with the bank, describes as “very human, emotional and relationship-focused.”

The campaign, “Ambitions Made Real,” introduces the new branding – and what the bank is calling its reclaimed purpose – through a wealth of assets. One of those assets is a hero spot where a young girl finds a piece of broken glass in a field, which sparks inspiration for her to build a model plane. Upon seeing CIBC’s new logo in the field, she runs through it, turning into a fantasy about flying an actual plane over farmland.

The idea, and where the bank fits in, is that the difference between having a dream and achieving it is having a partner that cares about making it happen.

The rebrand and campaign both stem from research CIBC conducted pre-pandemic, in 2019.

“What we came back with was that every Canadian, no matter their age or where they are in the country, has an ambition – big or small,” says Forbes. “They want their bank to be part of helping those ambitions become reality.”

That research led to retraining of CIBC employees that empowered them to help clients realize their ambitions, as well as planning for the rebranding that is now rolling out. But then the pandemic hit and delayed those plans.

However, the bank saw the pandemic as an opportunity “to put our purpose to the test when Canadians needed us most,” says Forbes.

“We were very much about our new purpose in how we reacted with care, urgency and commitment,” he explains. And those efforts led to the bank winning plaudits for customer satisfaction that “gave us confidence we were on the right track.”


The campaign includes “heavy-up” buys on TV, digital media and OOH, as well as direct-to-client communications – “we have emails going out to six million Canadians,” Forbes says. The bank is aiming to reach 95% of all Canadians over the next six weeks.

CIBC-CIBC unveils new look symbolizing the bank-s purpose of helCIBC has also refreshed all of its digital assets, and will be rebranding its physical assets – including banking centres and debit and credit cards.

In total, there are 1,500 advertising assets and 6,000 email triggers involved in the “very extensive and inclusive plan,” Forbes says.

“This brand is more than a logo, it’s about the soul of who we are,” he explains. “We’ve spent a year getting the team ready to deliver on this commitment.”

CIBC redoubled its efforts coming out of the pandemic because it believes “ambitions are stronger than ever,” says Forbes.

“Whether it be seeing family and friends again through travel, owning a home, investing for the future or retiring now, I think the pandemic has made people rethink what they value and what is meaningful for them,” he says. “Our new brand lines up so well with what they value and what has crystallized for them through the pandemic.”

The effort involved CIBC’s internal team and several other agencies, including Lippincott, for logo and brand design, Juniper Park\TBWA for advertising, Mediacom on media, Performance Arts on CRM and Fuse on experiential.