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Breaking Through the Clutter of Canada 150

Breaking Through the Clutter of Canada 150

5 minute read

  • Hundreds of brands looked to capitalize off of Canada’s recent 150th birthday celebrations, causing significant clutter around patriotic messaging
  • Some brands were able to breakthrough that clutter by creating a comprehensive strategy that went beyond Canada 150 logo usage
  • Roots, President’s Choice and Tim Horton’s represent strong examples of how to activate a national holiday 

Last week, Canada celebrated its 150th anniversary as the country took part in celebrations from coast to coast, to coast. This extra special Canada Day provided an opportunity for both brands with a Canadian headquarters and those who have established a Canadian presence to demonstrate their patriotism.

As a property, Canada 150 deliberately stimulated activation activity by ensuring that IP-rights for the celebrations would be accessible to any brand who desired it. The official logo for Canada 150 celebrations was made available for any brand’s usage as long as they filed an application with the Department of Canadian Heritage. And while the “property” of Canada 150 experienced a brand-building benefit by becoming ubiquitous, consumers were overwhelmed with marketing activity with a patriotic narrative.

Some brands went beyond ad-hoc logo usage and developed integrated programs around Canada 150, building their authenticity in this space. MKTG looks back at three Canada 150 campaigns (non-client examples) that stood out amongst the clutter as credible examples of how to activate national holiday. 

Canadians have always been labeled “nice”, especially from other countries, and for Canada 150 Roots looked to celebrate that label. They highlighted key moments and people that have helped define Canada and what it means to be nice. Canadian actress, Kim Cattrall, narrated the spot which highlighted people such as Terry Fox and moments like Canada’s welcoming of Syrian refugees. However, Roots does acknowledge that Canada’s history does not always involve “nice” moments. Roots recognizes the Indigenous people who were living in Canada before Confederation and have not received fair treatment. Additionally, Roots sold “nice” buttons and pins with all proceeds going towards Indigenous youth programs, with a minimum goal of $150,000. Finally, Roots ran a contest searching for Canada’s nicest person, having people nominate others through social media. Ten finalists were featured on their website and the one who received the most votes won $10,000 to a charity of their choice. Through taking a common label of Canadians and looking at its many definitions, Roots was able to create a compelling campaign. Also, their acknowledgment of indigenous communities and charitable initiative helped generate positive affinity for Roots. Finally, Roots brought the campaign to life through multiple different areas such as a broadcast and digital spot, “nice” branded products, and a “nice” contest, creating multiple touch points for the campaign.

1. Roots acknowledges all of Canada’s history and demonstrates multiple types of “nice”

2. President’s Choice looks to bring all Canadians together

There are more than 200 languages spoken in Canada and one in five residents were born outside the country, making Canada a highly diverse country. To recognize this fact about our country, President’s Choice created the #EatTogether campaign. The campaign was launched on January 1st during the NHL’s Centennial Classic Hockey game. The commercial highlights Canadians of different ages and backgrounds eating together and enjoying each other’s company. The commercial also promotes the increasingly rare act of eating with other people. Recent research showed that two out of three Canadians eat alone most of the time despite Canadians agreeing that eating with company results in stronger relationships. The #EatTogether campaign encouraged people to do this more often as President’s Choice hosted a #EatTogether Day on June 29th where hundreds of public barbecues were hosted across Canada at Loblaws grocery stores. President’s Choice also hosted a Canada Day Party on Parliament Hill where people could write Canada Day messages on plates for everyone to see. Tapping into what makes Canada special and also addressing something that many Canadians feel passionate about, President’s Choice was able to create a successful Canada 150 campaign. The original #EatTogether spot was viewed more than 11 million times, making it the most viewed campaign in Loblaws’ history. 

3. Tim Horton’s brings back its Uniquely Canadian Contest

Tim Horton’s has become a brand highly associated with Canadian culture; so much though that their annual Roll Up the Rim contest is anticipated by Tim Horton consumers. The contest has been running for over 31 years and it has become common to see people post about their Roll Up the Rim experiences on social media. The contest is usually held in the winter but for Canada’s 150th, Tim Hortons ran the Roll Up the Rim contest ahead of Canada Day. Tim Horton’s created no pre-promotion that the contest would return and had consumers discover it on their own, providing consumers with a positive surprise. Many people took to social media to say how happy they were on the return of the contest generating excitement and talk around the Tim Horton’s brand. In addition to the special Roll Up the Rim cups being designed with Canadian themes, Tim Horton’s also ensured that the grand prizes also reflected the country. Tim Horton’s is awarding 10 “Ultimate Canadian Vacations” which allow winners to choose their custom vacation within Canada. Tim Horton’s was able to create positive buzz by bringing back their already successful (and highly Canadian) Roll Up the Rim contest. They were able to amplify this by doing it by surprise which drove many people to share their excitement on social media. 

A common tactic for brands to gain relevance is to join an existing conversation rather than trying to create their own. Canada 150 was a large cultural moment that people were celebrating across the country and as a result of that, hundreds of brands looked to join the conversation. With a high amount of brand clutter, brands had to engage in comprehensive marketing strategies to ensure that their message would achieve breakthrough. Whether it was through working advocate for certain Canadian issues, promoting to unite all Canadians over a meal, or surprising Canadians with the return of the Roll Up the Rim, a few brands found a unique way to break through the Canada 150 clutter. 

Sponsorship Picks of the Week: July 10, 2017

Sponsorship Picks of the Week: July 10, 2017

Pepsi & Kyrie Irving