IGA unveils an Olympic sequel to its Christmas ad

Who: IGA, with Sid Lee for creative, Mathematic for animation, Circonflex for audio and music. Media by Carat. Chop Chop Films and BLVD for the “Recipes for Champions” web series.

What: “The Athlete,” an Olympic-themed campaign using the signature animation style that has become a hallmark of the grocery banner’s holiday advertising. It’s being billed as a “surprise follow-up” to last month’s holiday ad “The Trophy,” which showed a young girl and her distant grandfather bonding over their shared love of hockey.

The grocer is also building on its role as an Olympic sponsor with a live-action web series called “Recipes for Champions” featuring five Quebec Olympians: Freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury; hockey player Mélodie Daoust; snowboarder Max Parrot; speed-skater Laurent Dubreuil; and para skier Frédérique Turgeon.

When & Where: The 60-second spot “The Athlete” is live now, running through Feb. 22 on TV, online, and social media. The “Recipes for Champions” web series resides on a dedicated hub on the IGA website.

Why: The campaign is part of the “Feed the Dream” brand platform first introduced by Empire Company Ltd. (which has IGA, Sobeys and Safeway among its grocery banners) for last year’s Tokyo Games. The platform reflects the vital role food plays not only in nourishing and fuelling Olympians (and would-be Olympians), but also in nurturing families.

“With this approach, we wanted to… show how much sharing a family passion, for both sports and food, can define an athlete’s path in the pursuit of their Olympic and Paralympic dreams,” said Carl Pichette, vice-president of marketing for Quebec at Sobeys.

How: The spot brings the heartfelt story from “The Trophy” full circle through a classic misdirect. It begins in a home with a woman preparing meals and putting them into containers. Her son enters the room, and the perspective shifts to show a Team Canada bag packed and ready for the trip to Beijing for the Winter Games.

That’s followed by an emotional goodbye at the airport, and scenes of a jet taking off and landing in China. The spot then shifts back to the house, where we see the son Zack watching his mother making her final Olympic appearance as the goalie for the Canadian women’s hockey team. “These are my last Olympic Games,” says the voiceover as the goalie removes her mask and the spot transitions to her as a young girl, playing with her grandfather—a story first shared in the Christmas ad. “But I’ll never forget how I got started.”

Hosted by celebrity chef Stefano Faita, the French-language web series “Recipes for Champions” presented as a contest show, with the five Olympians squaring off against a parent to see who can create a better version of a favourite childhood food—Kingsbury and his mom make spinach sausage pasta, and Daoust competing against her mother Johanne to make Quebec maple chicken.

And we quote: “The challenge we gave ourselves a year ago was an ambitious one: Create a traditional IGA holiday story that sets the stage for Team Canada sponsorship, while keeping the effect of the surprise a secret,” said Sid Lee’s creative director Julie Desrochers. “Now that the second film has been released, we’re really looking forward to the public’s reaction.”

Chris Powell