CASE STUDY:  McCann Canada

When an American car brand wanted to connect to Canadians through a new ad campaign, we recreated the experience virtually for a wide range of Canadians to record their reactions, and handed over the insights that gave them confidence to move forward with their unique idea and the tools to make it even more impactful.


Chevrolet Canada had a concept for an advertising campaign in Canada based on the idea of living the Canadian Dream. The concept of the campaign would not reveal the brand behind it right away, but rather lead off with several statements in outdoor advertising that were meant to provoke interest. They were worried the statements might be too controversial. They also wanted to be sure that the delayed brand reveal wouldn’t backfire, that the brand matched the message and would work for Canadians far and wide--essentially looking for the go-ahead from real Canadians for the Chevrolet brand to be part of the Canadian Dream.

We know it doesn’t do well to complicate things, so we decided to keep this conversation short and focused: The campaign started with outdoor advertising, leading to a video ad with the same statements from the posters and billboards, which then revealed the brand behind it all. The whole campaign would follow through with social media. We would replicate that process in HatchTank, a digital research tool modeled after social media apps  in one day and record the reactions, with particular focus on the reactions to the brand reveal. We were specifically looking for emotional connections and had consumers do a short selfie-video at the end to tell us their feelings after experiencing the whole virtual campaign.

To reach a wide variety of Canadians, it would have to be online. Since there is French-speaking population, we would have two separate discussions: one in English and the other with our French-speaking neighbors. We also decided to subcategorize our participants further based on demographics, keeping the groups separate from each other so that they would feel comfortable reacting to the video and ads with others with similar lifestyles.

Our one-day discussion walked each participant through the campaign just like they might come across it in the wild: seeing a poster while out & about, then starting to recognize more and more print ads throughout the city or on the roads they drive. Once we knew their thoughts on these “teasers”, we showed them the video ad in the comforts of their own home, where they would be most likely to see it in real life. Since the posters were successful in sparking interest, there was lots of curiosity about the video and the brand behind the emotional connection they had made to the teasers. Once we heard about how well the video lived up to their expectations, we walked through the social media element of the campaign, wrapping up the full experience with our Canadian consumers.

Since we were working in different languages with different demographic groups, we knew we would need to keep things looking as simple as possible on our end. Fortunately there is technology for that: we conducted a day of discussion in English and then a second day in French. Within those days, each demographic group were only able to view and discuss with other members of their demographic groups while we could see and talk with everyone--kind of like holding 4 discussion groups at once.


We found that the campaign concept resonated well, which was great news for McCann, the agency putting the campaign together for Chevrolet. The campaign was easy to connect to, meaning that McCann had nailed it and could move forward confidently with the concept.


We also found out that the Chevrolet brand reveal during the video came as more of a surprise than they had hoped. Our participants had never seen anything like this unique campaign before, and shared their feelings about how the video affected their perception of the brand and the campaign overall.


The consumers, because they had ‘experienced’ the campaign, were able to make suggestions on how to help it all resonate even more for them, adding totally relevant suggestions, not just ad critiquing. These led to some key updates to the creative that made it even stronger in the end.

We were able to tell Chevrolet Canada and McCann about how the consumers felt, what emotions were brought to the surface by the video and social media, and whether things in the video were creating the desired emotions. We were also able to give them insight on what things were getting in the way and handed over the consumer suggestions. Then McCann’s professionals did what they do best, and applied their professional skills--all with the right tools directly from our group of consumers. And voila, they came up with this:  

There are many pieces of the video that changed from the original draft we showed the group that made this a supremely powerful overall campaign, from the posters to the video to the social media element. McCann was able to take our insights and the reactions of the consumers to make this incredible advertisement campaign work amazingly well.


We dare you to watch that video not be proud to be a Canadian. Even if you aren’t one.

“Excellent research….Your methodology and the research that you did for [us], both were a positive and the launch outs were bang on when we launched....I do take a lot of faith in the qualitative, it’s very thorough….This is really good work so I really appreciate it!”