The longest trail in the world is rebranding itself
The first major marketing effort for the country-wide attraction focuses on how it connects all Canadians.
The Trans Canada Trail is nearly complete, so it’s time to bring Canadians onto the path as it launches its new “Great Trail” platform.
Created by Tank, the video launching the campaign shows a young woman on one end of the trail shouting “Hello.” Her voice travels along the trail, showing off all the variations and different landscapes it cuts through along the way to the other coast, where a pair of hikers hear her and return the greeting.
Carat is handling media on the campaign.
The Trans Canada Trail project began in 1992 as part of Canada’s 125th anniversary celebrations, with the goal of connecting over 400 existing community hiking and nature trails to create one continuous, 24,000 kilometre-long trail that would stretch across the country from the Atlantic to the Arctic to the Pacific oceans, with the goal of being completed in time for Canada 150 next year. Most of the organization’s work over the years has been focused on completing that goal, which has required bridging 240 gaps totalling 6,200 kilometres.
But now that the Trail is nearing completion (it hit the milestone of connecting 20,000 kilometres of trail, or 86% of the trail, at the beginning of the spring), it has turned its attention to promotion and marketing efforts over the last two years, hiring Danielle St. Aubin as VP of communications and marketing last November.
“Now is the time to start promoting it and really draw attention to the fact that the trail will soon be connected and Canadians should find it and try it out,” St. Aubin says.
This has led to the organization referring to the trail as “The Great Path,” which also serves as the platform it is using to promote it. The campaign launch has also come with a redesigned website that features blog content and stories from different areas of the path, as well an interactive map of the trail, showing visitors their closest access point and photos from different sections along the way.
With its focus on mass marketing being so new, St. Aubin says a campaign of this size is also a first for the organization, though it has done some smaller, local outreach before, like having Canadian celebrities appear in videos to solicit donations (Trans Canada Trail is a community organization and its work is powered by a combination of government funding and private donors).
“We don’t have a ton of resources or sophisticated insight, but what we did know was that there is a small constituency that already knew and loved the trail and the project,” St. Aubin says. “What we needed to do was reach out to a broader group of Canadians, and to do that, we needed something more youthful and aspirational. When we started working with Tank, we really wanted to focus on the fact that this is a very cool project that people could care about.”
The path is multi-purpose, with sections best suited for walking, hiking, biking and even skiing depending on the part of the path you are on and the time of year. However, the idea behind the platform is to show all those things as part of one, single experience that connects everyone in the country.
“When were developing the platform, the visuals that make up ‘The Great Trail’ is very much focused on the horizon,” St. Aubin says. “One of our challenges is that the trail isn’t just one trail, it’s multiple trails that are all connected. That horizon theme made its way into the video and shows that you’re not alone on the trail, no matter what part of the country you’re in, because there’s someone you’re connected to over the horizon.”
While St. Aubin says one of the main considerations with doing a digital-only campaign was cost-effectiveness, she adds that digital would have been a key element of its mix regardless of its budget, as its plan is to reach an audience slightly younger than those currently engaged with the brand, but still old enough to be able to donate to the project.
Carat Canada press coverage:
Grenier aux Nouvelles, Le plus grand sentier du monde revitalise son image (article available in French)
Infopresse, Le plus long sentier au monde refait sa marque (article available in French)