Reitmans rewrites the national anthem to celebrate diversity as a core Canadian value

Who: Reitmans, with Cossette for creative (directed by Meryam Joobeur) and media handled internally. Multi-lingual translation by Ethnicity Matters.

What: “Diversity is the Fabric of Canada,” a new ad campaign celebrating diversity as a core cultural value, both in Canada and at Reitmans.

When & Where: The campaign begins Friday and will run until Canada Day, across TV, digital/social, in-store and radio, with translated versions in Punjabi, Cantonese and Mandarin.

Why: Diversity and inclusion have been central to the Reitmans brand for a few years now, encompassing both size inclusivity and BIPOC representation. “We made a decision right at the top to really embrace diversity,” said Jackie Tardif who, in addition to being president of the Reitmans brand, is also executive sponsor of diversity and inclusion for Reitmans (Canada) Limited.

Last year, Reitmans made diversity the focus of an ad campaign for the first time, and this new campaign underscores the importance of the issue, both for how the company operates and how it connects with its consumers.

“Our objective here is sharing our voice. We have five million women who shop at Reitmans every year, so with this campaign we just want to bring the voice of diversity to all corners of the country, using our platforms to amplify that voice,” said Tardif. “We want to create engagement with our community and with our employees.”

How: The campaign is built around seven inspirational Canadian women (see the list below) from the worlds of arts, sports, fashion, media and entertainment.

Each of the women has contributed to a limited-edition clothing line by helping design a pattern that reflects their personal style and cultural background. Those patterns are printed on T-shirts and scarves, and there is also a special tote bag for the campaign. All three items are available from May 21, with $2 from each sale going to charities chosen by the women (up to $10,000 for each).

The advertising is led by a rousing 30-second spot featuring the woman delivering a spoken-word version of the national anthem, with the lyrics rewritten to incorporate messages about diversity and inclusion (“Oh Canada, our home, our chosen land. True patriot love in all newcomers’ command… The true north, strong diverse and free,” and so on).

“We’re proud to pay tribute to our country’s values of inclusion and diversity,” said Tardif. “We created this as an homage… It is our emblem, our heritage. It’s a symbol of unity amongst all Canadians.” The only overt connection to the brand is a closing super referencing the special clothing line.

The women are featured across the campaign, including interviews with each that will be shared through digital channels. Reitmans is also running a national contest giving 10 newcomers a new wardrobe worth $1,000. Winners will be determined based on a short essay sharing their thoughts on what makes Canada a great place to live.

The inspirations: South Asian Canadian teacher and fashion designer Sandy Kaur Gill;  the first Chinese-born principal dancer in the history of the National Ballet of Canada, Chan Hon Goh; African-American Canadian athlete Angela James; Lebanese and Uruguayan/French Canadian comedian and actress Mariana Mazza; Chilean/French Canadian host, author, producer, entrepreneur and speaker Alexandra Diaz; Indigenous author and poet Natasha Kanapé Fontaine; and Senegalese/French Canadian rapper Sarahmée.


David Brown