Empire is feeding new dreams of Winter Olympic glory

Who: Empire Company Ltd. (parent company of grocery banners including Sobeys, IGA and Safeway) with BBDO and FCB for creative, North Strategic for PR and influencer, XMC for athlete management, and UM Canada for media.

What: The return of the “Feed the Dream” Olympic platform, which was introduced for the Tokyo Olympics last spring and is back with a winterized version for the upcoming Olympics and Paralympics in Beijing.

When & Where: The campaign launches this week, running through both the Olympics and Paralympics. Different assets will run on TV, online, social, outdoor and in-store, and there’s also an interactive website at FeedTheDream.ca.

Why: Empire introduced “Feed the Dream” last May in the run-up to the Tokyo Games, and activated the program across media and its entire stable of retail assets. It was the company’s first Olympic campaign after becoming an official sponsor in 2019.

“Feed The Dream” ties together food, family and sports in what Empire has referred to as a movement. Creative showed how the support of family and coaches was instrumental in feeding the dreams of athletes who made it to the Olympics.

“Our consumer research shows that in year one, Sobeys is already on par with other Team Canada sponsors and does particularly well at driving positive brand consideration compared to other sponsors,” said Erika DeHaas, vice-president, marketing communications at Sobeys. “Feed the Dream demonstrated strong overall performance with solid breakthrough in awareness and successfully influenced brand favourability.

The Beijing 2022 campaign has the same theme and creative thrust, with some updates to the digital component at FeedTheDream.ca.

How: The advertising shows some of the athletes who are sponsored by Empire training and competing, cheered on by their family, while other scenes show child athletes just starting out in their sports and being supported by their family.

“While our athletes remain a key focus of the film, we wanted to celebrate the notion ‘behind every dream, is family’ by showcasing the real families of both our athletes and everyday Canadian families who are feeding and nourishing their child’s dreams,” said Max Geraldo, chief creative officer at BBDO Canada, which developed the spot.

Shorter versions focus on single athletes, with viewers asked in a super, “What does it take to feed the dream?” That’s followed by the phrase “It takes _____ to Feed the Dream,” and various words used to fill in the blank, such as “dedication,” “commitment,” “support,” “hard work” and, of course, “family.”

“All athletes have a unique story about what it took to make their Olympic and Paralympic dreams a reality,” said DeHaas. “‘Feed the Dream’ was created to bring these stories to life, helping Canadians connect with our athletes and get to know them on a deeper level. The platform’s content highlights our athletes’ determination, discipline and the power of family on their journey from backyard skating rinks and local ski hills to the biggest stage in sport.”

The fill-in-the-blank concept is also extended to FeedTheDream.ca, where visitors can submit their own answers for a chance to win a “Family Viewing Kit” of food, grocery cards and memorabilia.

The music: For the Tokyo campaign, BBDO adapted a version of the Crosby, Stills and Nash classic, “Teach Your Children.” The song did “a fantastic job driving emotional connection and reinforcing ‘Feed the Dream’, we knew it would play an equally important role for Beijing,” said Geraldo. For the 2022 campaign, the agency adapted another classic: “’Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now’ by Starship brings both nostalgia and a lyrical connection with our campaign and platform,” he said.

David Brown