For Canada 150, Roots wants Canadians to “Be Nice”

Advertising, Branding


In celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary, Canadians from coast to coast are redefining what it means to be nice thanks to Roots Canada’s Be Nice campaign. Launched in conjunction with an online video narrated by Canadian actress Kim Cattrall, Roots is turning “nice” on its head by celebrating key moments and people that have helped to define our nation and what it can mean to Be Nice while raising funds for WE’s Indigenous Youth Empowerment Programming. WE is an organization that brings people together and gives them the tools to change the world.

Nice is overcoming obstacles and helping to find solutions to problems at home and abroad. From Canada’s first gay marriage; to Terry Fox’s Marathon of Hope; to Gander, Newfoundland’s response to 9/11; and the welcoming of Syrian refugees, “nice” is quintessentially Canadian. Nice comes from strength. Nice takes guts. Nice is standing your ground when you’re right, acknowledging when you’re wrong and apologizing for your mistakes. Nice is celebrating your accomplishments and how you approach others.

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

From now until the big day on July 1, 2017, the Roots Be Nice campaign will host a series of public-facing events online and in-store that will celebrate the very best of our home and native land. The nice™ Fundraising Program, the Roots Search for Canada’s Nicest Person, the cross-Canada Roots Pop-Up Shop and the nice™ Roots Artspace will all encourage Canadians to Be Nice in different ways.

“Roots has always been inspired by Canada,” says James Connell, VP Ecommerce and Marketing, 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 niceTM  campaign was conceived by Toronto-based creative agency The Garden, who also created the 60-second campaign video in partnership with Roots’ talented internal creative team. The two collaborated over several months to create the 60-second campaign video, uncovering visuals that reflect the meaning of “nice” for Canadians of all generations. Alongside images of Canadian icons such as Terry Fox, the video also features key figures such as Willie O’Ree, a New Brunswick native who became the NHL’s first black player in 1958, and The Honourable Roméo Dallaire, a Canadian general famed for his humanitarian work in Rwanda in the early 1990s.

“As Canadians, we often identify ourselves by the things that we’re not,” says The Garden co-founder Shane Ogilvie. “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 Garden also conceived the Roots Search for Canada’s Nicest Person as well as the niceTM  Fundraising Program which was brought to life in collaboration with digital and marketing agency Arcane who handled all social strategy and deployment as well as the Roots’ in-house creative department who also executed many additional aspects of the campaign, including online, in-store signage and out-of-home marketing materials.

In honour of its commitment to be nice, Roots is raising funds for  WE’s Indigenous Youth Empowerment Programming with the Roots nice™ Button ($3 for two, you and someone who’s nice).  100 per cent of profits from these buttons benefit WE’s Indigenous Youth Empowerment Programming. Our minimum goal of $150,000 will empower Indigenous youth to be leaders in their communities. The nice™ Button is available online and at all Roots locations across Canada. A limited-edition nice™ Enamel Pin will be available only at or at the Roots Pop-Up Shop, while supplies last.

Roots is calling on fellow Canadians to help identify a singular Canadian who will win $10,000 for a charity of their choice. From May 2 to May 28, 2017, Canadian residents may nominate Canada’s Nicest Person via social media with the hashtags #BeNice and #RootsIsCanada. June 5-18, the Top 10 finalists will be posted on and Roots social media, where the public will be encouraged to vote for their favourite. Canada’s Nicest Person will be announced on June 20.  To nominate someone making a difference in your community, post a picture to Facebook or Instagram along with the reasons why they’re Canada’s Nicest Person (max. 500-words) and use both hashtags #BeNice and #RootsIsCanada.

To help spread the #BeNice message, the Roots Pop-Up Shop will be at events and festivals across Canada this summer. Beginning with Toronto’s CBC Music Festival and Pride Toronto, the self-contained shipping-container will travel west, ending with the Vancouver Pride Festival in August. The Roots Pop-Up Shop will feature the nice™ Button and limited-edition nice™ Enamel Pin as well as a selection of other nice™ merchandise.

If people are the backbone of a nation, then art is at its heart. From May 15 to June 1 the windows of Roots flagship stores located in some of the country’s highest-traffic areas will be transformed into free art installations, featuring the work of emerging and internationally acclaimed Canadian artists. In a mini exchange program, Toronto-based mixed-media artist Candace O Bell will liven up Montreal’s Roots Centreville location while Montreal-based street artist WIA (aka. WhatIsAdam) will take up residence at Roots Toronto Bloor Street. Also in Toronto, one of the city’s best-loved street artists, Elicser (Elicser Elliott), will tag Roots Eaton Centre. In Ottawa, multidisciplinary Indigenous artist Raven Davis will be displayed at Roots CF Rideau Centre. In Vancouver, local Kazakhstani-Canadian muralist Ilya Viryachev will be showcasing a large-scale installation in the windows of Roots Robson Street. And finally, for Canadians outside of Roots flagship store cities, will be displaying the work of renowned director, photographer and artist Ryan Enn Hughes, who has exhibited at Art Basel, SXSW, The Getty Centre and the AGO, among others.

Founded in 1973, Roots is Canada’s leading lifestyle brand known for its quality leather goods, athletic apparel, accessories, and natural fiber clothing. In addition to its artisanal factory and design centre in Toronto, Roots has over 120 stores in Canada and the United States along with more than 100 retail locations in Asia. The core values that have always governed Roots are based on a commitment to active, healthy living, respect for the environment, community support and a passion for Canada.

Headquartered in Toronto, The Garden is a creative company, founded to help organizations embrace change. Through the development of a strong strategic foundation and a holistic approach to creative problem solving and design, The Garden helps companies uncover the ‘why’ in what they do, with the goal of making every connection point an opportunity to build stronger, more lasting relationships with their customers as they try to navigate this ever changing world.

​Credits for the video:

  • 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