Canadian Tire is one of Canada’s leading mass retailers. It sells everything from pots and pans to tools and hardware. To differentiate itself from its competitors, Canadian Tire taps into innovation. In the fast-pace world of retail, being the first to offer new products is key to winning the consumer’s purchase.

Canadians were convinced

Canadians who think that Canadian Tire is an innovative company
Canadians who think Canadian Tire carries the latest products

The insight

To win new consumers in a mature market, we first analyzed Canadian Tire’s loyalty database.  By comparing sales generated from new and innovative products to those items that have been on shelves for more than two years, we realized that innovation drove results in three different meaningful ways:  

  1. It drove net new customers in store.

  2. It increased the lifetime value of current customers.

  3. It increased affinity with the Canadian Tire brand, which is valuable in the undifferentiated market of mass retail.  

To win the innovation game, we had to:

  1. Find a way to “scout” the newest and most innovative products, much faster than our competitors.

  2. Prove that Canadian Tire could make these products available for consumer purchase in record time and change the perception that pure e-comm players (Amazon and the likes) were faster to market new products and innovation.

Devanture Magasin Canadian Tire - Crédit : Canadian Tire

A unique partnership with Dragons’ Den

Claiming that Canadian Tire offers unmatched product innovation with conventional advertising was not an option. We needed to walk the talk!  We developed a program as innovative as the products sold by Canadian Tire in its 506 stores across the country.

We developed a unique partnership with Dragons’ Den that went well beyond the typical media sponsorship or content integration. However, Dragons’ Den had problems of its own:

Problem #1: Hopeful entrepreneurs that come to the Den are not simply looking for funding of their start-ups. They are also looking for investors (dragons) that can open doors to product distribution and enable fast scalability.

Problem #2: It is common knowledge that about 90% of deals made on the show fall through due to the investor’s due diligence process or the entrepreneurs backing out of the handshake deals. Consequently, the show’s audience was losing faith in Dragons’ Den because only a few deals got through and made it to the market.

Canadian Tire could solve both these problems by offering a distribution deal to entrepreneurs live on the show. Guaranteed distribution of their products in Canadian Tire’s 500+ stores across Canada, was an opportunity that no investor/dragon could match! More importantly, it was the perfect advertising solution to reinforce that Canadian Tire offers more innovative products than any of its competitors.

The challenge
To be fully distributed the morning after the show was a challenge. It usually takes nearly a year to get new products from the drawing board to store shelves. We came up with creative solutions with the Store Operations department of Canadian Tire to fast track product availability and integrate owned media assets. Thanks to a unique collaboration with the Store Operations department of Canadian Tire, we were able to have products available in time for the show’s broadcast.

A 3-step execution


Canadian Tire’s President, Greg Hicks, is a charismatic and well-known Canadian businessman. We created a viewing room on the set of Dragons’ Den where Greg could watch while entrepreneurs pitched their ideas to the Dragons. When the product was ground-breaking, Greg had the option to offer a distribution deal in every Canadian Tire stores and ecommerce channels. There were two lucky entrepreneurs that were awarded this life-changing distribution deal. All of this content was integrated to the Dragons’ Den storyline, not in commercial time.

To reinforce the connection between Dragons’ Den and Canadian Tire, we launched a fully integrated campaign including TV, digital, and social, as well as integration to the Dragons’ Den’s website. The new products were promoted with every Canadian Tire’s owned channel: Canadiantire.ca, Instagram, Facebook, but also LinkedIn to reinforce the positioning within the business community. They were featured in the Canadian Tire flyer delivered to an average of 15 million+ households every week.

Finally, the new products were featured in-store with end caps and point-of-purchase displays with the show’s branding, and search terms were added to capture demand for these new products. All this was in-market the morning after the airing of the show, including the featured products on the store shelves. What a great way to change the perception that omnichannel retailers cannot be as “agile” than pure online players when it comes to speed to market.

A succesful campaign

Festival of Media North America
Best in Traditional Media
Internationalist Digital
Local Brand or Service in a Local Market
M&M Awards
M&M Awards
Best use of traditional media

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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.