Canadian Tire understands how Canadians yearn for spring

Who: Canadian Tire, with Publicis for strategy and creative; Touché for media.

What: “Longing for Spring,” a two-stage campaign for spring: one for those painful few weeks familiar to every Canadian when it’s supposed to be spring but it’s not… and then maybe it is for, like, three hours. And then it snows and the temperature drops to -14 and you hate living in Canada.

The other stage is for when spring really does arrive, and the temperature “soars” to +5, but the sun’s out and it feels like +22, and people are everywhere and you love every-damn-thing about living in Canada. (Our words, not Canadian Tire’s.)

When & Where: The first stage launched March 27, with a 60-second ad on TV and online, followed by phase two (April 10 to June 4),  which includes shorter online video, social posts (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and Pinterest), display, email and influencer.

Why: The two-phase approach is a new strategy for Canadian Tire and Publicis, intended to capture that very Canadian phenomenon of desperately longing and planning for spring once the calendar turns to March.

“We wanted to demonstrate that as a truly Canadian retailer, we understand Canadians best and have everything they need to make the most of the season,” said Natalya Lukie, associate vice- president, strategic marketing, Canadian Tire Corporation.

Phase one was about owning “pre-spring,” when people are starting to think about what they want to do when spring really arrives. Phase two is about the actual arrival of better weather and the return of spring activities like outdoor entertaining, cleaning, yard work, cycling and e-mobility, and how Canadian Tire can be the retail destination for all of them.

How (I): The campaign began with a 60-second spot that opens on a forlorn family of four pondering spring as they suffer through a March snowfall. Half way through, spring actually arrives and icicles melt, buds appear on trees, bikes and convertibles are rolled out of the garage, and the cover is  taken off the barbecue.

The :60 was used to tell a more “fulsome story,” said Lukie. “One that captures that pent-up longing for warmer, brighter days ahead and the glorious feeling when Canadians finally come out of their homes and come together as the season emerges.”

The music: Originally, the ad debuted with a rendition of the wartime classic “We’ll Meet Again” but Canadian Tire switched it to “The Best is Yet to Come.” “It came to our attention that the song may have evoked a different meaning for a specific but important group of Canadians,” said Lukie. “Out of respect for our veteran community and their families, and in alignment with our brand values, we revised the song to ‘The Best is Yet to Come.’ And we feel that it truly is.”

How (II): The second phase, called “Ready for Spring,” uses shorter online and social video to show actual spring activities, which may require a trip to Canadian Tire. “Ready for spring…  entertaining,” says a voiceover as family prepares to enjoy some barbecue at an outdoor table. “Canada’s spring store,” she says.

“The stories are simple, short and meant to be entertaining while delivering the main message for each job and joy of the season,” said Lukie.

Canadian Tire also partnered with #Paid for influencer activations. “We specifically have focused our messaging here on family fun and spring cleaning as these categories lend themselves to creator storytelling​ on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok.”



David Brown