COVID-19 imposed a complete halt of our beloved national sport, hockey. Canadian Tire is the number one retailer of hockey equipment globally. We needed to make up for the loss of sales and consumer connections resulting from a season-long stoppage.

It is the authentic purpose that made this campaign stand out in an otherwise dark reality of COVID-19

Total audience
Increase in market share in the category
Increase in sales conversion

Everyone knows that Canada and ice hockey are hand in glove by nature

When the pandemic struck, arenas closed, and hockey associations nationwide were shut down. Even professional hockey was put to a halt. Canadians were suddenly left with a hockey void.

Canadian Tire exists for the jobs and joys of life in Canada and carries all the products needed to thrive through typical Canadian life, including hockey. The network of 500+ community dealers has been deeply involved in all levels of hockey for many years, from local leagues to the sponsorship of the NHL (national hockey league).  In fact, most Canadians purchased their first hockey stick at Canadian Tire as a child.

After months without hockey, there was a palpable nostalgia for the game. However, the campaign was built on a stronger insight: Canadian consumers felt powerless when faced with the impact of the pandemic. This was true for every consumer, but even more so for Canadian Tire consumers. Indeed, our core consumer base is made of “fixers” and “do-it-yourselfers”. Canadian Tire is a mass retailer competing with home improvement retailers such as Lowes or Home Depot.

On top of its sports offering, it sells a wide range of tools and material to improve Canadian homes. Our “do-it-yourself” consumers typically take matters into their own hands and we felt we could help them channel their energy into a positive and meaningful movement.

We needed to reinvent our hockey sponsorship strategy over night!

If you can’t access arenas and outdoor rinks, why can’t you build our own network? This is the big idea behind ‘Operation: Puck Drop’. By building hundreds of ice hockey rinks in backyards, Canadians would have a chance to strap their skates back on.

Canadian Tire relied on the passion– and the arms! – of “do-it-yourselfers” to build a nation-wide network of community rinks. ‘Operation: Puck Drop’ supplied Canadians with the tools and know-how to take matters into their own hands. After all, Canadian Tire is a store for DIY’ers and builders. We believed they could truly make a difference one backyard at a time! Through this program, Canadian Tire would be the enabler of hockey, providing a moment of joy to Canadian families across the nation.

Puck Drop allowed a socially distanced country to come together, virtually share experiences and be apart of one of the things that unites Canadians the most, hockey!

This campaign was rooted in solidarity for bringing back hockey to Canadians


Step 1

First, Operation Puck Drop integrated seamlessly into Canadian Tire’s existing ecommerce platform, the #4 most visited website in Canada (all category included). This campaign-specific landing page included ‘How To’ videos teaching Canadians how to build their own rinks in their backyard and shoppable links to find all necessary tools and materials in a simple click. The how to videos and shoppable links were promoted via digital and social channels.

Step 2

Then, Canadian Tire, Hockey Canada and TSN/RDS asked Canadians to share the impact that an outdoor rink would make in their neighborhood. Canadians nationwide delivered: over 11,000 submissions in less than 2 weeks, cutting short the submission period in half! To kick start the movement, we awarded 200 of these participants with a turnkey outdoor rink installation kit …and then do-it-yourselfers built hundreds more, as proven by our sales spikes for related products. The campaign peaked during our sponsorship of the World Juniors on TSN&RDS. Vignettes highlighted the campaign’s impact were broadcasted in-content, during the most exciting moments of World juniors. The content was also amplified on social and digital channels through custom content pieces and hockey celebrities’ engagement!

A succesful campaign

Media Innovation Awards
Content Marketing Awards
Sponsored Content
Internationalist Awards
Best Local Campaign
WARC Media Awards

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We are steadfast in our belief that marketing and media creativity needs to be constantly redefined. Because we are emboldened by the ever-more meaningful, memorable and impactful connections this creates between a brand and its audiences. And most importantly, because it drives business success.