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Ray Zahab

April 20, 2016 by Speakers' Spotlight

Canada Goose Tackles New Terrain with Latest Film

A former “pack a day smoker,” Ray Zahab ran across the Sahara Desert in 111 days; he ran the three coastal trails of Canada, covering 400 kilometres; he and two others broke the world speed record for an unsupported expedition by a team to the South Pole; he ran 1,200 kilometres in 20 days in the Atacama Desert; and in 2013, he took on his most gruelling journey yet when he ran over 2,000 kilometres to cross Mongolia and the Gobi Desert, and if that’s not enough, in 2015 he ran 1000km across the Patagonian Desert. It’s no surprise that Canada Goose, a company that challenges the elements, sought after Zahab for their latest spring campaign:

For winter, Canada Goose ran a multimedia campaign built around a big-budget, big vision short film directed by Oscar winner Paul Haggis.

For spring, a quieter time for the brand, its latest film in the campaign was somewhat less grand in scope but still absolutely rooted in the essence of the brand, said chief marketing officer Kevin Spreekmeester.

“It is all born form the same place of telling honest, true and authentic stories,” said Spreekmeester.

Released earlier today, “Extreme Adventure Athlete” tells the story of ultra long distance runner Ray Zahab who once smoked one to two packs of cigarettes a day and felt like he “wasn’t doing anything or accomplishing anything.” He turned his life around, now runs ultra marathons around the world and created Impossible2Possible (I2P), a non-profit that works with youth to inspire social and environmental change through adventure learning.

Like the fall short film, this one was produced with the L.A. office of CAA, working with the Canada Goose creative team led by creative director Michelle Donnelly. For this execution, much of the photography used to tell Zahab story was supplied by Zahab himself with the distinctive Canada Goose logo often visible on him or the other people in the photos. “He documents almost everything he does,” said Spreekmeester. “It was a matter of how to poetically put it all together.”

Launched last fall, the Haggis spot generated more than 30 million views and the campaign drove a better than 500% increase in searches for Canada Goose, said Spreekmeester. “It exceeded our expectations,” he said.

When it came time to decide what to do for spring, there were many suggestions, but they kept coming back to one very simple idea, said Spreekmeester. “The goal of the campaign was to tell our story.” In this case they already had a lengthy relationship with Zahab and decided his was an authentic, genuine way to tell that story again.

“We met Ray years ago,” said Spreekmeester. “All of our Goose People have fantastic stories. They are inspirational, they all stand for something greater than themselves,” he said. The Haggis ad focused on heroic accomplishments of individuals in extreme cold, like Laurie Skreslet becoming the first Canadian to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.

Zahad is ideal for telling the Canada Goose story for spring when consumers are less interested in parkas, said Spreekmeester. “Ray works in various regions of he world and we have developed some of the best products [for those regions],” he said. “Our shells made with proprietary fabric allow Ray to go through tremendous wind storms and rain storms. Our Hybridge Lite jackets are perfect for trekking,” said Spreekmeester.

“Ray allows us to demonstrate world class product from Canada Goose that is not expected.”

By David Brown / MarketingMag.ca