In 2020, Canadian Tire (CT) was forced to reconsider how it would engage with consumers during the holiday season. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed how Canadians navigate their daily lives and led to the cancellation of most holiday events. Despite this, the desire to continue celebrating life’s seasonal moments still exists. CT, “Canada’s Christmas Store,” saw the opportunity to show Canadians how they could still celebrate the season safely.
CT’s market research showed that consumers want a retailer who can help make holiday preparedness easy and convenient (one-stop-shops) to offer more time to enjoy the season with loved ones. As Canada’s Christmas Store, CT’s goal remained unchanged regardless of COVID-19: give Canadians what they need to create a special Christmas for their families and help bring loved ones together safely. The research also revealed that nostalgia was a prominent theme in 2020 holiday décor, which CT was sure to include in the activation’s creative strategy to leverage a key trend that was sure to resonate with Canadians young and old.
CT’s objective was to drive brand affinity and defend CT’s position as Canada’s Christmas Store while reinforcing its purpose of being there for Canadians. The activation was designed to offer internal and external stakeholders, including residents of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), a way to celebrate and preserve beloved Christmas traditions while generating positive word-of-mouth awareness and excitement through traditional and social media channels. CT also wanted to contribute financially to its non-profit organization Jumpstart Charities (Jumpstart).
CT’s strategy was to show Canadians that while Christmas may look different in 2020, the magic was still very much alive. CT sought to help Canadians find ways to live out cherished Christmas traditions and safely create new ones. So, CT created Canadian Tire’s Christmas Trail (the Trail), a magical, multi-sensory, immersive Christmas drive-along experience at the historic Black Creek Pioneer Village (BCPV) just north of Toronto, complete with Santa and his elves, show-stopping lights, festive music and treats, all from the safety of guests’ vehicles.
Internal and external communications for the Trail were key to generating buzz and early awareness through multiple touchpoints and channels. A comprehensive microsite and email alias were created for ticket purchases and to streamline communications.
Our communications and engagement strategy for the various stakeholder groups included:
Media and Influencers
Employees, Jumpstart, Vendors and Partners
Throughout the Trail, CT product and subtle branding was woven into creative designs to inspire optimal photo-sharing moments. The curated designs included:
The CT Christmas Trail achieved three consecutive ticket sell-outs thanks to awareness generated by top-tier earned media coverage and highly branded, organic influencer content. CT’s objectives were exceeded as follows:
Make a significant contribution to Jumpstart Charities: Currently, $149,085.00 is being donated to Jumpstart.
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