This year, with more and more Canadians researching purchases and looking for gift inspiration online, Canadian Tire is positioning itself as Canada's go-to gift giving destination. It all starts with an engaging holiday campaign featuring its cheeky spokesperson sharing humorous advice. Add innovation with a brand new YouTube five-second "bumper" ad format and a little remarketing magic to target holiday shoppers. Canadians, meet Gary.

December 2014


Advertisers, sharpen your digital marketing tools. Shopping season has begun.

This year it's not enough to be creative. You've got to know your customers and be ready with what they need, both online and offline, because the competition is now only a click, swipe, or tap away.

This holiday season retail icon Canadian Tire will be building on a year of celebrated digital work across all of its brands. With more Canadians planning on researching gifts online than ever before, it is ready with an innovative campaign to ultimately position Canadian Tire as Canada's Christmas Store and drive traffic to its online Gift Finder tool.

The resulting Canadian Tire Unexpected Gifts campaign is definitely one to watch. As delightfully funny in its creative as it is brilliant in its digital media strategy, it's poised to capture the right kind of attention from the ideal holiday shoppers.

Behind the campaign

The Unexpected Gifts campaign's central purpose is to bring awareness that Canadian Tire is a prime gift destination. Wrapping it with a little holiday humor is simply a bonus. The premise is simple: With 95,000 different products on store shelves, the country's biggest retailer promises it has the perfect something for absolutely everyone on the gift giver's list. It is Canada's Christmas store.

And who better to help the overwhelmed consumer with the task of nailing just the right gift for the hard-to-buy-for than Canadian Tire's affable brand ambassador Gary (Philippe in Quebec), the everyman of the gift advice world?

Creative agency Taxi laid the groundwork with TV spots featuring Gary dispensing unexpected gift advice in previous years. In this year's campaign, he's at it again, amping up the humor and digging even deeper for truly inspired gifts. "The kids' Snow Spray N' Stencil Kit. It'll get them to be creative. And out of the house."

Digital ingenuity

Canadian Tire is no stranger to YouTube TrueView ads. It has incorporated the skippable ad format in previous campaigns. But the Unexpected Gifts team was intent on using TrueView to take this one to another level by reaching an interested audience and driving home the entertainment value.

What it came up with is nothing less than brilliant.

Tribal Worldwide was called in to help extend these ads into the digital world by capturing the spirit of the creative and sharing it in new and engaging ways. And Touché, Canadian Tire's media AOR was intent on evolving the YouTube strategy to another level. They collaborated with long-standing partner Google to introduce an innovative element that may be what sends this campaign over the top.

The campaign launched with 15-second spots across YouTube and incorporated remarketing to reach previous visitors and users who watched other Canadian Tire video content.

This means targeting users who visited the Canadian Tire site within the last 28 days and augmenting 15-second YouTube ads with innovative new five-second bumper ads appearing before content to deliver humor with very little intrusion. These small, non-skippable brand reminders feature Gary offering bonus gift advice like, "Smaller trees make presents look bigger" and two words that say it all, "gift cards."

The five-second bumpers are a bonus for engaging with our brand early-on and we hope that it's a bit of a surprise and delight in the humour and low-intrusion approach.

"Touché knew the beta for the five-second bumper ads was available at a global level, and that it was a perfect fit for the overall campaign strategy," says Michelle Jones, digital supervisor at Touché. "Canadian Tire is the first client and first major Canadian retailer to leverage this technology."

The campaign will also be present for in-search results, targeting high-trending content during the campaign'€™s run, from November 19 through December 24.

The bumper ads are not only a funny and brief reminder to users that Canadian Tire is there for their holiday shopping, but an ingenious way of putting it in front of users who are already familiar with the campaign, strengthening brand perception and affinity.

"The five-second bumpers are a bonus for engaging with our brand early-on and we hope that it's a bit of a surprise and delight in the humour and low-intrusion approach," says Jonathan Anderson, manager of digital marketing and merchandising at Canadian Tire.

The opportunity? Massive.
With this campaign, Canadian Tire is estimated to generate millions of views.

That's a lot of bonus gift advice.

We'll keep you posted on the performance of this campaign. In the meantime, look for Gary online. Word is he can solve some of your most pressing holiday challenges.