Canadian Tire embraces the imperfections of Christmas planning

Acknowledging a pressure many feel, the retailer changes its approach to say don't sweat the small stuff.

Canadian Tire is taking an “honest view” of the holidays to ease the stress shoppers feel about pulling off the perfect Christmas gathering.

In this year’s campaign, a child melts down in front of the tree, the family pet gnaws on a present and a young couple is stuck in a food fight at the kids’ table, an approach that is tonally different from Canadian Tire’s positioning from last year, focused on the joy and magic of the holidays

According to Irene Daley, associate VP of strategic marketing at Canadian Tire Corporation, the latest work is a fresh approach that embraces the reality of the season.

“We love that this work takes an honest view of how Christmas actually looks for many of us,” Daley says. And after a year like this year, she says we’re all looking forward to celebrating the gatherings we missed, including all the imperfections.

In fact, Daley notes, the most memorable Christmases are years when as much went wrong as it did right. “This campaign was created with that insight at the heart of it,” she says, adding that the creative was informed by qualitative research revealing that customers are feeling the pressure of pulling off a perfect family gathering, especially after lockdowns prevented many of us from getting together. This new campaign attempts to put those concerns at ease by showing that, even if the worst does happen, people will still be happy to gather together.

According to Daley, as “Canada’s Christmas store,” seasonal categories related to entertaining, gifting and décor are a priority for the business to invest in, supporting the one-stop-holiday-shop positioning. She notes that the retailer continues to expand its Christmas assortment and that the breadth of its toy offering, in particular, has really expanded in recent years to include all the hottest brands and gifts for kids.

The campaign will run nationally with three spots for broadcast and full integration across digital, including a holiday music themed partnership with Spotify. On social, the campaign includes polls engaging Canadians to share how they react to less than perfect Christmas moments.

Leo Burnett handled creative, while Touché did media planning and traditional buys. Canadian Tire’s internal team took care of digital media planning and buying.

Internally, Canadian Tire is itself preparing for how it will handle a potential holiday headache. In advance of the festive season, Canadian Tire’s president and CEO Greg Hicks noted that as the largest importer of record in the country, it has already built inventory to help deal with global supply chain pressures. It did so by chartering ships entirely dedicated to carrying CTR products amid a global shortage of shipping containers.

In a call with investors, Hicks says as a key distributor for national brand products, such as Nespresso and Nike, the retailer is “quite confident…we are getting our fair share of the products that we expect to be in high demand this holiday season.”