Posts by Jed Churcher - Toronto

With days numbered, Canadian chain Zellers goes for broke

If you knew you had only one year to live, what would you do? You’d likely throw caution to the wind. Any anxiety about taking risks would magically disappear. You’d go out strong. This is exactly what’s happening in Canada with the 80-year-old retail chain Zellers. This time next year it will be no more, replaced by Target. So Zellers is going all-out with a social marketing campaign that asks customers to submit their unforgettable memories of the store. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, the best stories receive a quirky reenactment.

These wacky online videos are a brave step for Zellers. Actually, they’d be a brave step for any marketing department. But why wait until you’ve received a death sentence before throwing anxiety out the window? What would have happened if Zellers had displayed this kind of boldness over the years? So long, Zellers. I hope your final days inspire more marketers to take chances—to treat each project like they have one year left to live. How freeing would that be?

Toronto Maple Leafs apologize to loyal fans for poor season

The recent start of the National Hockey League playoffs, caused a great deal of buzz around the Toronto Maple Leafs. Not on the ice—the Leafs missed the playoffs for the seventh straight year—but in the form of a full-page apology letter to the fans, taken out in all the Toronto papers on the same day. The chairman of the team’s board assures fans that their passion and loyalty are not taken for granted, acknowledges that the team’s performance was “unacceptable,” and says the organization makes no excuses for the disappointing results.

There’s great deal of anxiety around this team on all levels. It was a dreadful season, and fans are angry. But if consumer anxiety makes wallets tighten, somehow the Leafs have found a way to split the defense. Games are always sold out; TV revenue is through the rafters. High consumer anxiety = continued loyalty? A lot of businesses would love even a little bit of that Toronto Maple Leaf “magic touch.” While most businesses will never have it as good as the Leafs, there’s something to be said for adopting practices that allow for greater transparency and a sense of humility. They can bring a much-needed level of respect to customer relations—no matter what business you’re in.

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Two years after Toyota’s troubles, Scion touts its parentage

Scion, the Millennial subculture car brand, has a new tagline in Canada: “Made by Toyota. Customized by you.” Really? It wasn’t that long ago that Toyota’s name was in the public opinion trash can, mired with quality control problems. You’d think that with Scion, they’d see an opportunity to distance this sub-brand from the parent company. In fact, when Scion launched here in 2010, a low point for Toyota, most people had no idea who made the car; on, you have to dig really deep to find any relationship to Toyota. So for Scion Canada to leverage Toyota’s “street cred,” there’s only one logical conclusion: Consumer anxiety around Toyota has been kicked to the curb and left behind.

Photo Credit: Jed Churcher