Swiss Chalet gets emotional in anniversary campaign

Who: Swiss Chalet, Upstream, School Editing, Alter Ego Films (production, colour, post), TA2 (audio), Jigsaw (casting).

What: “Come Home to Swiss,” a new digital spot marking the casual dining chain’s upcoming 65th anniversary. The :60 is hosted on a dedicated microsite called, where Canadians are invited to share their own “Come home to Swiss” stories for a chance to win one of 65 prizes of free Swiss Chalet for a year.

When & Where: The spot debuted June 10, in advance of the Swiss Chalet’s June 23 anniversary date. It is being supported by a paid and owned digital campaign. The online ad will be accompanied by a broadcast spot (debuting next Monday) which will promote Swiss Chalet’s famous Quarter Chicken dinner at a special one-day anniversary price of $6.50.

“The campaign is a great example of trying to find that balance between emotion and the brand’s more functional elements,” says Upstream’s managing partner, Chris Hopper.

Why: The bullseye target is young millennial parents who might have grown up with Swiss Chalet, but whose interest in the brand has waned, says Hopper. “It might not be a top-of-mind option anymore, so we’re really trying to stir up those emotions to get them thinking about it.”

Swiss Chalet tapped Upstream to be its AOR two years ago, with a primary objective of making the brand relevant to younger Canadians. One of the ways Upstream is doing that is by focusing not only on Swiss Chalet’s rational benefits— its longstanding strength in takeout and delivery, as well as its strong value proposition—but also the emotional affinity people have for the company.

“This is an iconic Canadian brand with a lot of richness,” says Hopper. “Three generations of Canadians have grown up with Swiss Chalet, and there are a lot of authentic and distinct stories out there. We want to spark those and get people thinking about Swiss Chalet in a fond way.”

How: The digital short is “based on a true story,” and is solidly rooted in the feels. It features a young millennial couple, complete with a dog and a baby on the way, moving into a new house. At the end of a long day, the weary young couple is surprised by a Swiss Chalet delivery courtesy of their neighbours across the street.

Earlier this year, Upstream conducted “in-depth” qualitative research with Canadians about their perceptions and history with the brand. Among the key findings: “Swiss Chalet doesn’t have to fabricate its relationship with Canadians,” says Hooper. “We were blown away by how vivid some of the stories and memories were, and how distinct they were to the Swiss Chalet experience.”

That sentimentality. It feels familiar: Well, there’s a good reason for that. Upstream’s three principals, Bill Moir, Paul Wales and Chris Hopper, all had a longstanding association with another iconic Canadian foodservice brand, Tim Hortons and its long-running “True Stories” platform. Moir is the former Tim’s CMO, while Wales—who directed the new digital short—was a longtime ECD on the Tim Hortons business at J. Walter Thompson. “There’s a natural connection to finding ways that brands fit into the everyday lives of Canadians,” says Hopper of “Come Home to Swiss.”




Chris Powell