HBC introduces touchy, feely brand platform

Who: HBC and BBDO.

What: A new brand platform entitled “Live a Colourful Life”—literally a touchy-feely campaign with an emphasis on human connection and the joy that comes from deeply felt emotions and moments.

When & Where: The campaign launched today (March 9) with a cinematic 60-second spot. Creative is running on TV, online, cinema and through social.

Why: HBC is undergoing a reinvention of sorts now that it has been taken private by chair Richard Baker. While part of that reinvention will be data-driven and more digital, this campaign seems like another example of an emerging tech-lash genre—tapping into the growing realization that many people feel less connected and less happy in this hyper-digital age. (Here’s one recent example where the focus is on connection over connectivity.)

In a release introducing “Live a Colourful Life,” HBC explains that a colourful life is “full of feeling, thoughtfulness and style.”

Creative director Daniel Koppenol describes the new positioning as “more cultural intervention than traditional campaign,” calling it “the first step in redefining our purpose and reestablishing our connection to Canadians.”

How: By emphasizing that our most meaningful experiences are those that we can touch (ie. not digital) and feel—”a fabric, the weight of a glass, or the embrace of a loved one.”

The ad opens with a man standing on a crowded bus—a grim, familiar commute where nobody talks and the only sound is the chime of a message notification. The narration starts with the closeup of a woman staring at her phone: “We should never lose our ability to feel,” he says. “The more you feel, the more you live, the more colourful life becomes. Feeling is the shortcut to connection.”

The voiceover overlays a montage of people enjoying real moments, from diving into a cold mountain lake to sharing a kiss (a same-sex kiss in this instance), an older couple dancing (an interracial couple in this instance) and a mother comforting a daughter.

For some, the moment is elevated by an HBC purchase, but in every shot the people seem very, very present, as mindfulness advocates would say.

And we quote: “As a brand, we echo the values of our country and the pride we have in our way of life—focused on inclusivity, meaning and happiness,” said Allison Litzinger, vice-president marketing, brand, customer and loyalty. “We want to inspire Canadians to live their best style and explore the colourful life they can design for themselves at Hudson’s Bay through our unmatched breadth of stylish and quality products.”

David Brown