Petro-Can fuels up a new branded content strategy

The company has partnered with CBC for a multiplatform sponsorship ahead of the next Olympic Games.
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Petro-Canada is getting ready, set, go for the Olympic Games through an extensive partnership with CBC/Radio-Canada that will show off the Suncor property’s support for Canadian athletes.

The energy company is not only getting behind the Olympic spirit, it is also vying for attention for its Fuelling Athlete and Coaching Excellence (FACE) program, which provides grants to Canadian athletes. That partnership, which includes a branded content series and a summit for athletes, will extend beyond the Rio Games in 2016 to the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games in 2018.

And while announcing the partnership and the launch of the new event, the pubcaster’s Olympic Network has also announced a new hire. Greg Stremlaw, executive director, CBC Sports will be the GM and chef de mission for all CBC/Radio-Canada Olympic Games coverage.  

Titled Faces of Tomorrow, the CBC/Radio-Canada and Petro-Canada branded series will launch in January and feature all athletes who received FACE grants in 2015. It will air under the pubcaster’s multiplatform Olympic programming brand, Road to the Olympic Games. That programming includes a linear TV show as well as coverage on the CBC app.  Profiles and details of each athlete will also be available on 

Promotions for the program include a 30-second TV spot introducing the FACE program, as well as lower-thirds and billboards on TV during the Road to the Olympic Games programming, online and on the app.

CBC/Radio-Canada worked with creative agency TBWA and media agency OMD for the deal. 

Mike Armstrong, director, sports and digital innovation marketing at CBC/Radio-Canada told MiC the partnership aimed to get the conversation around the Olympic Games started early. “I have seen enough research that says from an event perspective, if you activate early you have a better chance for success. We got into discussing the CBC’s Road to the Olympic Games as an amplification vehicle for [Petro-Canada] and how we can solve the business objective of increasing awareness around the FACE program.”

Armstrong says he expects the program to be successful because it features real Canadian stories. The get-in-early strategy is also aimed at making the most of the run up to the sporting event, which lasts 17 days.

This past weekend the same grant recipients also collected at the CBC headquarters for the first annual Petro-Canada FACE Summit. The summit is part of the pubcaster and Petro-Canada‘s strategy to boost the public’s interest in Canadian athletes and also to provide the athletes with an opportunity to build their skill sets, according to Marc Goodman, director, loyalty and strategic partnerships at Suncor. Former Olympians and Paralympians were among the speakers at the event, which focused on building individual profiles by enhancing public speaking, social media, and personal brand development skills.  

Last week CBC restructured its media solutions division to provide a more client-centric experience, building up its strategic solutions team.