Canadian Tire Ice Truck

Events, Seasonal and Short-Term (GOLD)

Client Credits: Canadian Tire
Susan O’Brien, CT, Vice President Strategic Marketing
Andrew Barrett, CT, Consultant
Chris Lee, CT, Marketing Manager, Strategic Marketing
Natalia Paruzel-Gibson, CT, Associate Manager, Strategic Marketing
Amir Kolia, CT, Marketing Coordinator, Strategic Marketing

Agency Credits: TAXI Canada
Darren Clarke, TAXI, Executive Creative Director
Irfan Khan, TAXI, Creative Director
Colin Brown, TAXI, Sr. Art Director
Michael Siegers, TAXI, Art Director
Rene Bhavnani, TAXI, Writer
Sarah Moen, TAXI, Agency Senior Producer
Lesley Rivard, TAXI, Group Account Director
Trevor Byrne, TAXI, Account Director
Michael Strasser, TAXI, Account Supervisor
Rebecca Hazell, TAXI, Account Manager
David Hicks, Director
Jeff Darragh, Producer
School Editing, Editing House
Eggplant, Studio
Sons & Daughters, Production House
Iceculture & FUSE Marketing Group, Ice Truck Construction
Brie Taylor, FUSE, Account Director; Katie Shaver, FUSE, Account Manager
Justin Creally, North Strategic, Co-Founder; Sarah Stewart-Browne, North Strategic, Vice-President
Nicole Grant, North Strategic, Senior Account Manager; Erin Voth, North Strategic, Account Executive
Ian Buck, Notch Video, Producer & Managing Director; Samantha Hall, Notch Video, Producer
Nadia Tan, Canova Media, Director; Brent Martin, Canova Media, Producer
Colin Akoon, Canova Meda, Cinematographer; Ryan Emond, Canova Media, Cinematographer & Editor
Chris Murphy, Canova Media, Editor
Dan Griffin, Canvoa Media, Music
Tammy Gardner, Group Account Director, Touche
Atreyee Dey, Broadcast Group Director, Touche
Faebri Michetti, Media Supervisor, Touche
Laura Fraser, Assistant Digital Strategist, Touche


Business Results Period (Consecutive Months):January 1–February 28, 2014
Start of Advertising/Communication Effort: January 1–January 31, 2014
Base Period as a Benchmark: January 1–February 28, 2013

a) Overall Assessment

The products and services needed to prep your car for a Canadian winter are well established. Winter tires, winter washer fluid/blades, and an engine check. Because brands don’t talk about much else, the average consumer doesn’t think about much else, if they even think about those.

But that poses a serious problem.

Having a fully working battery is essential to making it through the winter. A battery needs more power to start when it’s cold, so a worn-down or half-charged battery may be able to start a car on a day when it’s 7ºC, but if the temperature swings to -7ºC, you could be stranded in the cold.

Yet batteries are viewed as a grudge purchase – “I buy one when it breaks” – not a proactive, preventative one. So how do we drive a new behaviour? How do we convince consumers to care about the battery in their vehicle?

That was our objective. Grow sales of the Canadian Tire–exclusive MotoMaster Eliminator AGM battery by provoking Canadians to question if their battery can last the winter.

We did this by putting the MotoMaster Eliminator AGM battery to the test. But not just any test. As Canada’s Automotive Authority, we had to create the ultimate test for the ultimate battery. This resulted in the world’s-first, one-of-a-kind, driveable vehicle made out of ice – the Canadian Tire Ice Truck – which got lots of people talking, and thinking, about batteries.

b) Resulting Business Objectives

Primary: Increase sales of MotoMaster Eliminator AGM batteries by 10%.

Secondary: Demonstrate Canadian Tire has products made for life in Canada.

c) Annual Media Budget
$2 - $3 million

d) Geographic Area

a) Analysis and Insight

With its four seasons, Canada’s weather is unpredictable and can be quite harsh. As Canada’s Store, it’s up to Canadian Tire to prepare Canadians with the products necessary for all the permutations of life in Canada. For winter and automobiles that means having a battery that can start no matter what.

Knowing that Canadians need their batteries to work when it matters most – up at the cottage, coming home late from work, etc. – we decided to create the most extreme situation a battery could be placed in to demonstrate the efficacy of Canadian Tire’s toughest battery the MotoMaster Eliminator AGM.

b) Communication Strategy

Canadian Tire puts their batteries through the ringer in product development and it would be very easy to bring any stage of that to life in an ad. The problem with that is only a small minority of people, if any, would find that interesting. Also, spewing out technical language, like “cold cranking amps” or “active glass mat technology,” would also result in glazed-over eyes.

Therefore, we knew our communications strategy had to be (1) relatable, (2) easy to digest, and (3) the “extreme situation” we created for our battery, had to be believable and interesting.

a) Media Used

One x 60-second TV spot (English and French) airing on January 1 ONLY

One x 30-second TV spot (English and French) airing January 2 – January 31

One 3-minute making-of documentary airing online

2 x Ice Truck melt videos airing online (30-second and 2-minute versions)

Standard IAB digital banners

1 x Ice Truck

b) Creative Discussion

The first major question we needed to answer for the campaign was what extreme situation would we subject our battery to. Thinking through all the possibilities, we continued to come back to a product truth: this battery is guaranteed to start even when it’s -40ºC.

This is such a powerful and convincing fact that we knew it had to be at the centre, so we began to investigate ways to get the battery that cold. After all, we couldn’t simply put it on an iceberg and float it into the Arctic waters because (a) it may not be -40ºC, and (b) that’s too outlandish and weird for our target to have any connection to. Instead, we developed a custom-built machine that used dry ice to freeze the battery to -40ºC (Exhibit 1).

Now, with a frozen battery in tow, we set about finding the perfect vehicle to test it in. To add to the impact, the vehicle had to be big. This meant a truck. But a plain old truck was, well, plain and old and that wouldn’t get us noticed. We realized that during winter, Canadians often describe their vehicles as “cold as ice”, so we decided to build one out of ice.

And the first-ever driveable ice truck was born (Exhibit 2).

A truck made of ice, frozen batteries, dry ice, -40ºC – very quickly we realized that the Canadian public might claim this to be one big hoax. To stop them, we produced a making-of documentary (Exhibit 3) that used footage capturing every stage of the development. This documentary became an integral part of the campaign.

Finally, when it came to executing the big TV spot (Exhibit 4), we decided to go small and simple and let the product and ice truck do the talking. We picked a quintessential Canadian moment of a father taking his son to hockey practice at 5:30 a.m. and we used simple language and the simple product benefit to get our point across. All of this featured our lovable and increasingly popular spokesperson, which allowed for a bit of humour and charm to come through.





c) Media Discussion

The media buy featured:

  • 60-second and 30-second TV spots
  • Online ads
  • Online videos
  • Ice Truck Community Drive
  • Social media posts and ads
  • Extensive PR

The target was typical of Canadian Tire automotive campaigns: car enthusiasts and sports-minded males with a penchant for light DIY projects. This guy owns two cars that are over three years old, making him the prime candidate for needing a new battery. What separated the media of our campaign from the competition’s was our go-to-market strategy.

First, we launched later in the year than typical winter prep campaigns for maximum impact. Knowing that winter starts in Canada anywhere between late October to December, we didn’t want to be in-market when parts of the country were still experiencing days with temperatures above freezing. We wanted our campaign to drop when it’s always cold, which meant January and February. 

Not only was the timing perfect for our message, we also didn’t have to compete with regular winter prep campaigns and Christmas noise.

The second key component was our day-one-launch plan where we went big and in our target’s face.

To get as many relevant eyeballs on it as possible, we launched with a one-day-only, 60-second TV spot that aired during the closest thing Canadians have to the Super Bowl, the 2014 NHL Winter Classic. We knew this would be the perfect spot since our target was an avid hockey fan. And we were right. This airing alone garnered 3.1 million highly targeted impressions. Not satisfied, we also purchased full-day YouTube and Facebook takeovers to coincide with this. YouTube alone achieved close to 16 million unique impressions.

Finally, we had probably the most unique media medium ever in the Ice Truck, and we went to great lengths to have it seen in as many places and as often as possible. Not only was it at the forefront of our creative, but we also took it on a two-kilometre drive through the town of Hensall, Ontario, where its residents cheered us on. We filmed that for the world to see and posted it online. 


a) Sales/Share Results

Our campaign’s business objective was to achieve 10% sales growth of the MotoMaster Eliminator AGM battery. On completion, a year-over-year comparison of sales data showed an increase in sales of 70%, setting a record for the automotive division!

The campaign also lifted sales for the entire Canadian Tire battery category by 24.6%, far exceeding the overall category growth of 8.24%!

Additionally, when it came to demonstrating to consumers that Canadian Tire offers products made for life in Canada, independent Ipsos tracking proved that 57% of consumers believed this to be true, which is significantly higher than the 46% we achieved in our previous winter automotive campaign.

Finally, in terms of media attention, the story was picked up by a host of media outlets around the world, which furthered the conversation and helped position Canadian Tire as the place to go for products made for life in Canada.

  • Nationwide: CTV, CBC, Global, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, Globe & Mail
  • International: The New York Times, CNN, Fox News, The Daily Mail, The London Times, plus some of the top news outlets in Germany and Australia
  • Auto/Misc.: Jalopnik, Autoblog, Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!, The Discovery Channel

b) Consumption/ Usage Results

c) Other Pertinent Results

d) Return on Investment

a) General Discussion

Prior to our campaign, the majority of people only bought a battery if theirs stopped working. Because of the MotoMaster Eliminator AGM campaign, this wasn’t the case anymore.

We can say this campaign worked for two simple reasons: 

  1. In two months, we had an increase in sales of 70%, far exceeding industry average of 8.24%.
  2. The MotoMaster Eliminator AGM is an ultra premium battery that can cost at least 50% more than other batteries. The fact that people weren’t turned off by this in-store shows they were convinced it was the real deal.

People saw the ad, were impressed by the battery, and flocked to Canadian Tire to buy it. 

The link between the spot and the product’s success is further supported by independent Ipsos campaign tracking data:

  • 61% of consumers were convinced of the battery’s efficacy (12% more than typical industry effectiveness scores)
  • One in four people watching the ad wanted to buy the product after seeing it
  • 58% of Canadians perceived Canadian Tire as unique and different after watching the campaign (24% above industry norm)

Finally, consumers were linking the communication to Canadian Tire. We saw a brand-link ratio of 76%, which was 18% over the norm. This also helped to further Canadian Tire’s objective to be seen as being the “automotive authority” as well as “offering products for life in Canada” (both integral KPIs, based on internal Canadian Tire insight research).

b) Excluding Other Factors
Spending Levels:

These were on par with any / all automotive efforts by Canadian Tire.


No unusual pricing to be noted.

Distribution Changes:

None to be noted, as the product was an existing, widely distributed product and was not new to the market this year.

Unusual Promotional Activity:

None to be noted.

Other Potential Causes:

No other potential causes to be noted.