Leveraging Canada's Patriotism

Tim Hortons and Canadian Tire are perennial champions at brand activation. Their advertisements will often pull at your heartstrings, tenfold during Olympic seasons, and this season is no exception. This illustrates the importance of Olympic partnership, as it is a time when everyone in the country unites for one common reason and there is no shortage of emotion rich content for these sponsors to work with and capitalize on.

Tim Hortons (Jump the Boards)

The essence of Canadiana is clear when you bring together Tim Hortons, Hockey, and Sidney Crosby. Crosby is arguably the poster child for Canadian hockey, which was cemented by his infamous Golden Goal at the 2010 Winter Games. The ad created by JWT Toronto debuted on January 4th, and shows Crosby leading everyday Canadians onto the ice, while the upbeat original song “Let’s Run” is played. The ad ends with the sentiment “Nothing brings Canadians together like a good ol’ hockey game” written on the screen. This ad also promotes the #JumpTheBoards contest to win a meet and greet with Sidney Crosby.

The dynamic of the images with the music are inspiring and make you want to lace up a pair of skates and jump on the ice with them. If you aren’t already feeling invigorated by the beat of the music and enthusiasm portrayed on screen, your heart starts to melt when the coach nods for the little TimBit player to get on the ice and he makes his way to the frontline.

While Tim Hortons is not an official partner of the Olympic Games, the timing of this commercial is a not-so-subtle example of the benefits of player sponsorship. The success of this marketing strategy is highlighted by the fact that the song clip became so popular that it prompted Tim Hortons in collaboration with production company Grayson Matthews to release a full length version which is available for free on Sound Cloud. Social media mobilized Canadians to seek out and then demand the complete version of the song, which at the time did not exist.

Canadian Tire/We all play for Canada (Team Photo)

The ad begins focused on Jonathan Toews, another Canadian hockey all-star, and slowly pans out to show more people seated around for a team photo, dressed in red they make the shape of a maple leaf. The voice over is an announcer stating that Jonathan Toews’ goal was assisted by, and then goes on to describe roles that everyday people have in supporting the success of athletes such as Toews. The ad ends with the tagline “there is no such thing as an unassisted goal”. ‘We all play for Canada’ is a new national marketing program launched by Canadian Tire, in their mission they state that play is part of being Canadian, and Canadian Tire supports play.

Canadian Tire Co. Ltd. recently announced a sponsorship deal as a top tier “premier national partner” of the Canadian Olympic Committee. The level of sponsorship was not revealed, though premiere partnerships with the COC are known to be in the 4-6 million dollar range. In 2011, Canadian Tire Ltd. purchased Forzani Group Ltd., a sporting goods retailer operating under various banners and this allowed Canadian Tire to solidify their position in the sporting goods market.


Both of these proudly Canadian companies are partnering with stars of hockey and everyday Canadians to tell a story. They tell a story of patriotism, camaraderie, and that warm feeling of home. This is the perfect recipe for brand activation.

Is the goal of these advertisements to promote their brand, promote national pride, or both? Perhaps these brands are already woven into the fabric of our national pride. Making a Tim’s run on your way to Canadian Tire on a frosty Saturday morning to pick up some new equipment for your next round of shinny, seems like a quintessential day in Canada to me. What are your thoughts?