Ad Campaign Celebrates Canada’s Lauded History of Niceness, and Hopes to Find Its Nicest Person

Roots makes the most of the sesquicentennial

Headshot of Angela Natividad

This year marks Canada’s sesquicentennial. And to celebrate, lifestyle brand Roots is flaunting its biggest quality—niceness.

Kicking off the “Be Nice” campaign, a video titled “Celebrating 150 years of being nice” is narrated by Kim Cattrall (Samantha from Sex and the City!), who’s Canadian herself. Created alongside The Garden—the agency that gave us the cavity-inducing “Tell America It’s Great”—it’s a cockles-warming manifesto about what it means to commit to kindness, paired with moments when the country’s largesse helped define its identity.

“‘Nice’ acknowledges 150 years of extraordinary Canadian historical events that challenged the status quo and brought change nationally and globally,” Cattrall says. “We continue to redefine the word ‘nice’ as an active verb.”

Above, for example, is a kiss between Michael Stark and Michael Leshner, following their Supreme Court marriage in Toronto in 2003, when same-sex marriage was legalized in Ontario. The country’s official Civil Marriage Act passed two years later—leading the U.S. by 10 years.

Other key figures include Terry Fox, Willie O’Ree (the NHL’s first black player) and the Honorable Roméo Dallaire, a general known for his humanitarian work in Rwanda.

“As Canadians, we often identify ourselves by the things that we’re not,” says Shane Ogilvie, co-founder of The Garden. “We wanted to create something that celebrated some of the people and moments that have helped to define who we actually are as a nation.”

The video will raise funds for WE’s Indigenous Youth Empowerment Programming, a nonprofit operation raising awareness and sensitivity around issues faced by aboriginal young people. It also precedes Roots’ Search for Canada’s Nicest Person, launching today. Unsurprisingly, Canadians are asked to identify the country’s nicest person, who will win $10,000 for a charity of his or her choice.

To nominate someone, users must post a picture on Facebook or Instagram, along with the reasons they’re Canada’s nicest person. Hashtags #BeNice and #RootsIsCanada must included in the copy, limited to 500 words. Nominations run from May 2 to May 28, with finalists appearing on (the winner will be announced June 20).

Both efforts were created with The Garden, agency Arcane, which managed social strategy, and Roots’ in-house creative department, which handled online, in-store signage and out-of-home marketing collateral.

Through July 1, Roots will also be inciting niceness nationwide, with public events that include a pop-up store, a nice™ Roots Artspace, in-store promotions, buttons and online efforts. All will encourage Canadians to be nice in different ways while celebrating Canada’s many merits.

Want to see the buttons? Of course you do.

“Roots has always been inspired by Canada,” says James Connell, vp of ecommerce and marketing for Roots Canada. “What better way to celebrate 150 years of this wonderful country than to celebrate its people? We hope Canadians will share their inspirational stories, wear and share a Nice button to raise funds for a great cause, enjoy great Canadian art that is part of our shared cultural heritage, and be motivated to ‘be nice’ to create an even nicer Canada for the next 150 years and beyond.”

The Roots pop-up store will appear at festivals throughout the summer, starting with Toronto’s CBC Music Festival and Pride Toronto. Composed within a shipping container, it will progressively travel west, completing its journey at the Vancouver Pride festival in August. Visitors can score a Nice button and a limited-edition enamel pin, as well as other goodies.

Meanwhile, the nice™ Roots Artspace will feature free installations around the country from artists like mixed-media creator Candace O Belle, street artist WIA, indigenous artist Raven Davis, and Kazakhstani-Canadian artist Ilya Viryachev. will also display work from Ryan Enn Hughes, a director, photographer and artist.

Agency: The Garden
Client: Roots Canada
Creative Director: Shane Ogilvie
Design Director: Omar Morson
Art Director: Rosalinda Graziano
Writer: Erin Beaupre
Project Cultivator: Jessica Lax
Strategist: Shari Walczak
Strategist: Zoe Sparrow
Executive Producer: Melanie Lambertsen
Producer: Renee Desousa
Editing: Brett Erina, Saints Editorial
Audio: Chris Tait, Pirate Group

@luckthelady Angela Natividad is a frequent contributor to Adweek's creativity blog, AdFreak. She is also the author of Generation Creation and co-founder of Hurrah, an esports agency. She lives in Paris and when she isn't writing, she can be found picking food off your plate.
Publish date: April 26, 2017 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT