IGA introduces an Olympic sequel to its holiday ad

‘The Athlete’ is a companion piece to December’s ‘The Trophy,’ showing a young girl and her grandfather bonding over hockey
Animated female goalie lifting her mask during an Olympic fame

IGA has introduced an Olympic-themed ad using the rich animation style that has defined its holiday advertising for the past several years.

Developed by longtime agency partner Sid Lee and animation studio Mathematic, “The Athlete,” is part of the “Feed the Dream” advertising platform introduced by parent company Empire Company Ltd. for last year’s Tokyo Olympics.

The messaging, which has also been used in ads for other banners in the Empire portfolio—such as Sobeys—shows how crucial food is to not only nourishing Canada’s Olympic athletes, but also nurturing families.

“As the official grocer of Team Canada, we are extremely proud to support, feed and help our athletes grow,” said Carl Pichette, vice-president of marketing, Quebec, at Sobeys. “With this approach, we wanted to transcend the theme of surpassing oneself to show how much sharing a family passion, for both sports and food, can define an athlete's path in the pursuit of their Olympic and Paralympic dreams.”

Launched late last month, the emotional 60-second spot is a surprise follow-up to December’s holiday spot “The Trophy”—which showed a young girl and her somewhat grumpy grandfather bonding over a mutual love of hockey.

What viewers didn’t know at the time was that it was conceived as a companion piece to IGA’s Team Canada sponsorship. The new ad, which is running on TV, online and social through Feb. 22, shows the girl grown up and playing for Team Canada at the Olympics.

It uses a classic misdirect, opening on a woman preparing meals and putting them in containers for storage. Her son enters the room, and we see a Team Canada bag packed for the Olympics, followed by scenes of a jet taking off and landing in China.

As the spot progresses, viewers see that she was actually preparing meals for her son to eat while she was away competing in her final Olympics. The spot brings the campaign full circle, with the woman saying in a voiceover that she’ll never forget how her career started, before showing a picture of her and her grandfather.

IGA is also supporting its Olympic sponsorship with a new web series called Recipes for Champions, which takes the form of a cooking competition in which Canadian Olympians including freestyle skier Mikaël Kingsbury and speed skater Laurent Dubreuil compete against a parent to see who can create the best version of a childhood favourite recipe such as steak pie or spinach and sausage pasta.

Empire and its banners are also providing gift cards to all of Canada’s Olympic and Paralympic athletes. “This will ensure that the athletes can prepare all of their favourite recipes,” said the company.

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