Sobeys brings ‘Feed the Dream’ to TV

Who: Sobeys with BBDO for creative, UM for media, XMC for athlete management and North Strategic for PR.

What: “Firsts,” a new video ad for the “Feed the Dream” Olympic campaign, which launched in the spring with an emphasis on the connections between food, family and sports (“Feed the Dream” is a program for all of Empire’s brands, including IGA, Safeway, Foodland, Thrifty Foods and Voilà, but the TV ad is only for Sobeys.)

When & Where: The ad is running on TV and digital during the Olympics, while other creative and Olympic-themed activations have been running since May.

Why: In June 2019, Sobeys introduced a new brand platform as “Canada’s family grocery store.” A few months later, it became an Olympic sponsor as the first “official grocer of Team Canada.” Those two platforms are combined for the “Feed the Dream” campaign.

“‘Feed the Dream’ is a hard-working awareness-driver that brings to life the important connection between food, sport and the dreams and aspirations of everyday families,” said Erika DeHaas, vice-president marketing operations at Sobeys Inc. “‘Firsts’ celebrates and deepens the emotional and powerful connection between family, food and sport—after all, these three things unite Canadians, whether at home or competing for gold on the world stage.”

How: Soundtracked by an updated version of the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young song “Teach Your Children,” the ad juxtaposes scenes of Canadian medal hopefuls and their coaches with those of children learning the sports while being watched by family, coaches, opponents and teammates. The athletes are all sponsored by Sobeys: Jennifer Abel, Andre De Grasse, Ellie Black, Kylie Masse, Sean McColl and Damian Warner.

The ad features little grocery imagery or Sobeys brand presence until the final scene, a young boy staring at his own first medal as he sits down for a meal with family. “Feed the Dream” appears on screen as a super, followed by the Sobeys logo and official Olympic sponsorship status, and ending with the tagline: “Canada’s family grocery store.”

“Through our anthemic Olympic spot ‘Firsts’, we feature our roster of athletes and their connection to family—whether that be their immediate family or their extended family which includes their teammates, coaches and community to nurture their success.

What else? The campaign launched with a call for Canadians to share their words of support for Canadian athletes who are competing in Tokyo without fans or family support to cheer them on because of Covid restrictions. People could post their encouraging message at, with some of those messages stitched into a tablecloth. “[W]e are so pleased with the positive reception that our Feed the Dream tablecloth is receiving,” said DeHaas. “To date, we have received over 306,000 unique visitors to and the Games have just begun.”

There is also outdoor advertising, and a “family album” of video content produced with the CBC that introduces the families behind some of the Canada’s medal hopefuls.

And we quote: “Empire’s partnership with Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), and the Feed The Dream movement, is not simply a form of marketing. It makes us a stronger, more united company with deeper customer bonds, bringing families together and cheering on Team Canada across the country.” — Erika DeHaas, vice-president marketing operations at Sobeys Inc.

David Brown