The Sobeys parent company announced its partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee at a launch event in Mississauga, Ont.
Empire Company Ltd.—parent company to Sobeys, IGA, Safeway, Farm Boy, Foodland, FreshCo, Thrifty Foods and Rachelle Béry—made the announcement it had partnered with the Canadian Olympic Committee to become Team Canada’s official grocer at a launch event at its Mississauga, Ont. office on Oct. 7.
Crowds of Empire staff, all dressed in red shirts for Canada, filled the main floor to watch the announcement, while the festivities were broadcast to Empire offices across the country.
“There are two things that unite our country: sports and food. So what a great combination we’re announcing today,” said Michael Medline, Empire’s president and CEO, addressing the crowd.
“At Sobeys, we believe in the power of sport to inspire Canadians,” he said. “We are not just a company that sells groceries. We are a company that is intertwined with the everyday lives and hopes and dreams of Canadians, and sport plays a big part in the lives of Canadians.”
Empire’s soon-to-be-launched e-commerce platform, Voilà by Sobeys, will also be the official online grocer of Team Canada; and Medline announced there would be a special partnership with the women’s hockey team specifically, with Empire becoming the “exclusive partner of the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team.”
While the full details of the company’s Olympic-related marketing campaign won’t be unveiled until early 2020, the company said healthy food and nutrition would be a key focus of the sponsorship program.
There were a number of Olympians—both past and future—on hand to mark the occasion, including Sean McColl (sport climbing), Kylie Masse (swimming), Kia Nurse (basketball), Sarah Pavan (beach volleyball), Roseline Filion (diving), Tessa Bonhomme (hockey), Marnie McBean (rowing), and Curt Harnett (cycling).
Medline called the Olympic partnership “a huge coup for Empire,” and congratulated Sandra Sanderson, Sobeys’ senior vice-president of marketing, and her team for securing it.
“The marketing team has been working on a very significant campaign that we’re looking to bring to life as we get a little closer to the Tokyo Games,” Sanderson told Canadian Grocer.
“We’re so excited about the opportunity; we see this as a defining moment in our brand evolution at Sobeys.”
She added, “We really believe that there’s such a powerful connection between family, food and sports.” Last November, for instance, Sobeys announced it would be the official grocery store of all six Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment teams, including the Toronto Maple Leafs and Raptors.
“We have been starting to engage with many different sponsorships over the last few years, and this, to us, was the pinnacle of where we could bring all of our sports commitments together,” said Sanderson.