Last year was like none other for Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), marking Canadian Tire Retail’s (CT) much anticipated 100th anniversary. In February of the milestone year, CTC unveiled its Brand Purpose, that We Are Here to Make Life in Canada Better, at its first-ever Employee Share-Out event. This was the first event of its kind where CTC articulated its strategic direction for growth and further success through clearly defined Core Values and Strategic Pillars. Eight months later, CTC celebrated its momentous anniversary with a celebration worthy of a century-long history, presenting a unique employee engagement opportunity.
After more than two years of limited in-person events, this occasion was the perfect opportunity to bring employees, Dealers, executive alumni, board members and top vendors together to celebrate like never before at the Celebration of a Century (COAC).
This once-in-a-lifetime birthday celebration brought the past, present and future of CT together to enjoy a two-hour, star-studded, high-energy show, featuring iconic Canadian celebrity guests, including four-time Grammy Award winner Michael Bublé, complimentary food and beverage, prizes and more at the Coca-Cola Coliseum in Toronto on October 3, 2022.
The event was the perfect opportunity to reinforce CTC’s Brand Purpose, designed to meet two main objectives:
Connecting employees and stakeholders to CT’s 100th anniversary, recognizing the countless individuals, innovations, and achievements that have shaped CT into the iconic retailer it is today.
Driving positive brand affinity for CT while creating lasting memories of the anniversary celebrations.
Few Canadian retailers can say they’ve celebrated a century of operations, so CT pulled out all the stops to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime milestone:
Partnered with HR and senior leadership to create a comprehensive guest list and determine attendance eligibility among employees supporting CT.
Developed an extensive communications plan to ensure guests received timely and relevant information, including save-the-date, invitation, registration, and what-to-expect emails, paired with detailed seating plans and maps for suites, reservable floor seating and general admission.
Flew in employees from across Canada and provided accommodations for the celebration to align with CTC’s Core Value, we are stronger together.
Collaborated cross-functionally and with external partners to produce a memorable, three-act show honouring the past, celebrating the present, and looking toward the future of CT. Each act included an array of performances, remarks from executives, live and pre-recorded videos, special guest appearances, in-show prizing, and more.
Created memorable red carpet pre- and post-show VIP receptions where guests enjoyed an elevated experience with entertainment and cocktail-style food and beverage.
The execution of such a large-scale event involved many moving parts:
15 communications were deployed in English and French over two months prior to the event. With an extensive guest list came the need for different communications streams, each requiring unique messaging and channels.
Nearly two years of planning executed over six days of set up at Coca-Cola Coliseum to create a custom stage, display 50+ branded signage items throughout the venue, and place branded light-up bracelets on seats to be synchronized with lighting elements during the show.
COAC was hosted by award-winning singer, songwriter, actor, author, and fellow Canadian Jann Arden. Canadian comedian Ali Hassan hosted the in-show prizing opportunities throughout the three-act show, providing comedic commentary in both English and French.
Performances and appearances from Canadian stars, including Michael Bublé, Blue Rodeo, Deborah Cox, Darryl Sittler, and Chris Hadfield.
Act One began with an opening sequence of performers, including an ode to CT founder A.J. Billes who appeared via hologram, backed by an adaptation of The Tragically Hip’s “Ahead by a Century,” a song heard in CT marketing campaigns throughout 2022.
Act Two included corporate and store-level fundraising achievements for Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities. This act featured videos and live remote appearances from stores sharing their fundraising efforts within their communities, ringing true to our Core Value that we take personal responsibility and are accountable to deliver results.
Act Three celebrations included an original song inspired by an A.J. Billes quote – “Strive Always to Make Things Better” – closing with the promise that CT will be here to make life in Canada better for the next century.
In the one hour before showtime, 3,445 CT-branded food and beverage vouchers were redeemed.
With live events, the teams were prepared to navigate any challenge, and from balancing rehearsals between multiple venues, experiencing weather-related technical issues up until show commencement, and providing on-site guest support, the outcome was what CTC president and CEO Greg Hicks referred to as “remarkable.”
The objectives of COAC were simple: connecting employees and stakeholders to CT’s 100th birthday celebrations, and to create lasting memories for all guests.
Connecting stakeholders to CT’s birthday celebrations:
40+ personalized happy birthday messages recorded and played throughout COAC from special guests, athletes, and celebrities, including Ryan Reynolds, Dan Levy, Marie Mai, Kardinal Offishall, and more.
Three live remote segments to CT stores across the country, acknowledging the impact our employees have on communities across Canada.
86% of guests surveyed felt more connected to CT’s 100th birthday than before COAC.
Drive positive brand affinity and create lasting memories for all guests:
4,400+ employees, Dealers, vendors, and special guests from across Canada attended.
As one of CTC’s Core Values states, inclusion is a must. The event opened with a land acknowledgment and smudging ceremony. French simultaneous translation, described video, sign language interpreters, and accessible seating options were available for guests.
$300,000+ worth of giveaways and prizes awarded through friendly competition on CT-themed trivia, including an all-expenses paid trip to a Canadian city of the winners’ choice.
94% of survey respondents felt COAC made them proud to be an integral part of CT’s success over the years.
80% of employees surveyed in the annual engagement survey, believe in our Brand Purpose that We are Here to Make Life in Canada Better, up 7 points from 2021.
Post-event photos, videos, and comments from employees about their experience and appreciation of the event on internal channels received a 12.9% average engagement rate.