Canadian Tire remains focused on play for Beijing Olympics

Who: Canadian Tire, with Leo Burnett for strategy and creative, Touché for media, and Veritas Communications for PR and influencer.

What: The retailer’s Olympic campaign, which includes new advertising using its longstanding “We all play for Canada,” positioning, along with a social media-based, hockey-themed challenge. Canadian Tire has been an official sponsor of the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic teams since 2013, and just renewed for another eight years.

When & Where: The campaign launched Jan. 24 with ads running online and on TV, with additional elements, including the “Puck Pass Challenge” launching Jan. 31 across TV, digital, social, PR and in-store.

Why: A theme of the Olympic campaign is that the core elements of the Games, play and sport, are good for everybody. They act as a unifying force for communities, and help individuals, particularly kids, both mentally and physically.

“As a brand whose purpose is to make life in Canada better, we believe that a stronger nation starts with strong and healthy kids,” said Irene Daley, associate vice-president, strategic marketing, Canadian Tire Corporation. “When kids play sports, they learn self-confidence, teamwork, perseverance and creativity, and those values help them become stronger humans.” That theme is featured in the new advertising and the Puck Pass Challenge.

How (the advertising): Four ads, two of which are new, depict short stories of kids learning life lessons through sport and play. “These values of perseverance, courage, confidence and teamwork are the foundations of what make for strong athletes,” said Daley.

While two of the ads have run previously, the others are new for the Olympics. In one, a young boy waiting at the bus stop with his hockey gear is given a lift to the game by his enthusiastic teammates, while the young narrator explains that “This is family.” In the other spot, a young girl and her father appear ready for a ski lesson atop a hill, though it turns out that it’s the girl who is teaching her father. “Always growing,” says the narrator. Each spot ends with the closing line: “What we learn from play, we learn for life.”

“Whether it is the feeling of belonging when your hockey family gives you a ride to the game, or you work together as a team to make a great play, or help a parent learn how to ski, these are the values that make for a better nation,” said Daley.

How (the social challenge): The advertising is about average Canadians, as is the Puck Pass Challenge—although it weaves in some big-name Canadian athletes and sports personalities like Hayley Wickenheiser, Mitch Marner, Tyler McGregor, Alexandre Bilodeau, and Ron MacLean.

To take part, people film themselves with a hockey stick and a puck, receiving a pass, making a move, and then passing it on. They then post the video to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, using #WeAllPlayForCanada hashtag and tagging @CanadianTire. The sports stars are posting their own passing films, receiving passes from other videos and passing the puck onto others. (Canadian Tire created a similar “stitch chain” video for the Tokyo Olympics.)

The Puck Pass Challenge runs from Jan. 31 to Feb. 18, with some of the participants “with the best moves” chosen to appear in a new TV spot to debut during the Olympic and Paralympic hockey finals. Canadian Tire will also donate $1 for each pass (up to $300,000) to Jumpstart, the Canadian Olympic Foundation and Paralympic Foundation.

“It will be the most Canadian version of an Olympic torch relay this country has ever seen, and we hope it inspires people to get excited to cheer on Team Canada during the games,” said Daley.

And we quote: “Sport plays an important role in our lives—[it] isn’t about winning or losing, or uniforms or medals, it’s much bigger than that. Sport and play teach us the value of community, empathy, teamwork and friendship. The stories we tell in this campaign are a reminder to all of us.” – Sam Cerullo, creative director, Leo Burnett.


David Brown