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Empire’s Olympic dream delayed, but not denied

In support of Canada's athletes, Sobeys' parent has launched a marketing campaign ahead of the Summer Games in Tokyo
Recyclable bag with the Olympic Feed The Dreams branding on it
Sobeys Inc. Feed The Dream (CNW Group/Sobeys Capital Incorporated)

Empire Company Limited—the parent company of Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods, Longo's and Rachelle Béry—introduced a marketing campaign this week, less than three months ahead of the Tokyo Summer Games, Empire’s first Olympics as official grocer of the Canadian Olympic Committee.

"Our store teams are thrilled to cheer on Team Canada as we ramp up to the Games in Tokyo," said Sandra Sanderson, senior vice-president, marketing, Empire.

Empire signed on as a Team Canada sponsor in October 2019, but what was to be its first Olympics as sponsor, Tokyo 2020, was delayed because of the pandemic.

Now, though COVID remains a global health emergency, the games are expected to take place in July, and Empire is one of the first big Canadian marketers in market with a campaign tied to its sponsorship.

The Feed the Dream campaign—which Empire is calling a “movement”—is intended to both show support for Canada’s Olympians and emphasize the grocer’s focus on bringing families together through food. “At Empire, we believe there is a powerful connection between family, food and sport that unites Canadians,” said Sanderson. “Our partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee helps us bring that connection to life.”

The campaign includes advertising, in-store activations, and direct support through the donation of grocery cards to athletes. “To further extend our partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, we will also do our part to feed the dream, donating 'athlete grocery cards' to support Olympic qualified athletes,” said Sanderson. “Many athletes rely on a community of support to nurture their success and we are proud to be a part of this community for Team Canada!"

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Billboard advertising of Olympian climber Sean McColl
Sobeys Inc. Feed The Dream - Sean McColl (CNW Group/Sobeys Capital Incorporated)

In the early days of the campaign, advertising will be heavily focused on digital media, with TV and broadcast integrations during the Games. Empire is also an official partner of CBC’s Road to the Olympic Games.

To further underscore the connection between Team Canada and food, Canadians also have a chance to share their words of encouragement in a specially made tablecloth. People can visit to share their message of encouragement, with selected messages stitched into “Team Canada’s Tablecloth.”

Empire also has additional partnerships with a number of Canadian athletes, a roster that “celebrates and reflects the diverse communities served by Empire stores from across the country.” Those athletes are:

  • Canada's Women's Sevens Rugby Team
  • Jennifer Abel, Diving (3m Springboard)
  • Ellie Black, Artistic Gymnastics
  • Andre De Grasse, Athletics (100m/200m, Relay)
  • Kylie Masse, Swimming (100/200M Backstroke)
  • Sean McColl, Sport Climbing
  • Damian Warner, Athletics (Decathlon)
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