Canadian Tire #ShovelItForward Case Study

Rather than compete on price, Canadian Tire used #ShovelItForward cause marketing to create store preference for low-involvement winter products (e.g., snow shovels, ice scrapers) which otherwise have low emotional resonance. In so doing, Canadian Tire positioned itself as “Canada’s Winter Store.”


Canadian Tire is the country’s biggest retail chain that sells everything for life in Canada, including winter seasonal products like snow shovels.

When Canadian Tire wanted to position themselves as Canada’s store for all things winter, we set out to own the driveways of homes across the country as an untapped media channel. Thus came the idea to stimulate consumers to shovel their neighbors’ driveways.

We spread a little warmth during the cold winter months by surprising 200 unsuspecting Canadians with a freshly cleared driveway to start their day, making sure to leave behind the Canadian Tire #ShovelItForward shovel, which contained the following message: “A neighbour used me to clear your snow! Do the same for someone else and leave me with them. See my story and share yours at”

Even the best ideas need a well thought-out media plan to ignite the viral spark. As this campaign was all about sharing, we needed a social plan to spread our message in the online space.

#ShovelItForward stories snowballed into one of the most successful Instagram campaigns globally, with a 45-point lift in recall — 2.8 times the Instagram average. (With 3.4 million video views) the campaign’s Facebook engagement rate was an astounding 23.15%, and saw a 16-point lift in campaign awareness.

The microsite tracked the movement in real time. The initial 200 cleared driveways started a movement that touched millions of Canadians in a matter of six weeks.

Store traffic and market shares increased, all contributing to year-over-year same-store sales growth of 4.7%, where competitors saw overall declines of 1.5%.

“We owned the seasonal business, helping drive the Canadian Tire banner to its best comparable store sales results in a decade.” — Michael Medline, CEO of Canadian Tire

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Cause Marketing of Low-Involvement Products

Without cause marketing, consumers are price sensitive when making purchase decisions for low-involvement products (like snow shovels) which have low brand equity and low emotional resonance.

According to the strategy brief of this campaign: “Consumers who visit a mass merchandising store to buy one such item will also purchase between 4-7 additional items that are not on their list. These items, if purchased at Canadian Tire, are defacto not purchased at Walmart. Therefore, the concept of first store visit is of primary importance.”

It’s difficult for a store like Canadian Tire to compete on price versus Walmart, given Walmart’s massive economies-of-scale advantage. Instead, to compete effectively, Canadian Tire used cause marketing to grow share-of-heart, securing store preference as Canada’s Winter Store rather than compete on price.

Canadian Tire #ShovelItForward Ads

“Shoveling a neighbour’s driveway is as Canadian as winter itself.”

“Here are all these beautiful people in red jackets… How could I be so lucky?”

Canadian Tire #ShovelItForward Promo Video

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