The Verdict: Canadian Tire’s Ice Truck

Susan O'Brien, VP strategic marketing, Canadian Tire, shares stats that show how the battery campaign became one of the retailer's most successful marketing efforts of all time.

After taking home the Gold at the Internationalist Awards last week there was little doubt that Canadian Tire’s “Ice Truck” campaign was a success. With new data to back up the claim, Susan O’Brien, VP strategic marketing, Canadian Tire Corporation, tells MiC that the integrated campaign for the Motomaster Eliminator battery was one of the retailer’s most effective marketing efforts to date.

O’Brien says early results show that the “Ice Truck” campaign has boosted sales on car batteries at Canadian Tire by more than 50% over the previous year.

According to Ipsos ad tracking data cited by Canadian Tire, the ad outperformed the industry on three key metrics among target consumers: Prompted recall was 63% over the industry norm; brand link was 36% over, and main message communication was 24% above the industry norm.

O’Brien said that the strength of having a solid “big idea” – building an ice truck – generated a lot of energy across all the functions at Canadian Tire. “It demonstrated the power of integration. We’re always striving for integration, but when you finally get it to the level that you want it to be at, it becomes the new bar [for success],” she says.

While the campaign leaned on a strong TV presence starting with a launch during the NHL Winter Classic, O’Brien says digital and PR elements took the campaign to the next level.

On the digital side, she says the series of videos – including the main spot, a “making of” video and others – collectively drew 3.5 million YouTube views and that leveraging the YouTube masthead garnered nearly 16 million impressions and 275,000 clicks, about a 1.79% click-through-rate.

On the PR front, the story of the ice truck was picked up by multiple outlets including CNN and the New York Times. Media hits generated over 80 million impressions including international coverage as far afield as Germany, Australia and the UK.

But how does that sell car batteries in Canada?

“There’s some credibility that comes along with international notoriety. Particularly in the world of automotive, we are a world-class automotive company, so having international recognition does enhance your credentials,” says O’Brien. “If you see coverage in the New York Times or CNN, you say, ‘Oh, these people must know a thing or two about batteries!’”

O’Brien says that the broader “Tested for Life in Canada” campaign, of which the “Ice Truck” campaign was one component, did not account for a significant increase to Canadian Tire’s marketing budget and that the “Ice Truck” campaign’s budget was about in-line with other product-specific campaigns within that program. Building the Ice Truck itself actually made up the biggest cost, she says.