Since Canadian Tire first started advertising on TV decades ago, it has never relied on a celebrity to hawk its products or bolster its brand. So, as Canadians watched the opening round of this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, they might have been surprised to see commercials for the iconic department store starring George Foreman, extolling the virtues of his line of environmentally friendly cleaning products. The household cleaners, featuring Foreman in his signature boxing stance, are being sold in Canada for the first time, exclusively through Canadian Tire.
According to Leon Dreimann, who has been working with Foreman to market his products since he first introduced his now-infamous grill 15 years ago, Canada’s “green” reputation is what prompted the former heavyweight champion to bring his cleaners north of the border. (They were introduced in the U.S. two years ago.) The success that Canadian Tire has had in selling the George Foreman Grill, meanwhile, made the retailer an obvious choice, he says.
If the commercial is any indication, the feeling is mutual. “It’s very select products that actually get that kind of support,” says Canadian Tire’s Dawson Marshall, associate vice-president of merchandising. The all-natural products, which range from a grill cleaner to a laundry stain remover, began appearing in stores in March. Packaged in recyclable materials, they are billed as “tough on dirt; safe for kids and pets.” And at $3.49 for 709 ml, Marshall says Foreman’s line is more affordable than other green cleaning products.
Canadian Tire’s decision to feature Foreman in the ads, however, has as much to do with his reputation as his products. “When he first started to support products, he was George the boxer, and now he’s George the family man,” says Marshall. “He has a track record with consumers.” The fact that Foreman, with his bald head and sparkling white shirt, bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Clean, can’t hurt either.