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I recently read of what was described in one article as “the first in what is sure to be a parade of marketers attempting to latch on to the fanfare around the 150th anniversary of Confederation this year”.

It was a video ad during the National Hockey League’s Centennial Classic game on New Year’s Day.

Loblaw bought out an entire commercial break on Sportsnet after the first period, to show a two-and-a-half-minute ad. The video, which the retailer will be promoting heavily on social media, tells the story of a group of neighbours from different backgrounds who come together for an impromptu meal in the hallway between their apartments.

“Creating what we call film versus a commercial; it’s definitely a first time doing this. The 150th year for Canada is a momentous occasion. It really felt like the significance of the occasion required a different way in,” Loblaw’s senior vice-president of marketing, Uwe Stueckmann, said in an interview. “We felt it was important to do something that isn’t about trying to sell a product, that isn’t about trying to sell anything, really. It’s more about creating this movement of getting Canadians to eat together.”

Royal Bank of Canada is another advertiser that has already jumped on the upcoming celebrations: in October, it launched a campaign called “#Make150Count,” asking people aged 16 to 25 to describe how they would use $150 toward ideas to “help communities prosper.”

Canadian identity is an emotional tool that many advertisers already wield.

This year’s anniversary is likely to ramp up the national symbolism in ads as an easy way to connect with people, reports the Globe and Mail.

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