‘Ottawa’ Love Ottawa Project Inspires St. Laurent Spring Campaign
After discovering the loveOttawa project on Instagram and other social media, St. Laurent marketing director Carrie Irvine had a moment of inspiration.
Could she collaborate with the creative minds behind the popular project, which captures the beauty of Ottawa and the passion its residents have for their city in words and photographs by asking the question, “What do you love about Ottawa?”
The question became a key element in the shopping centre’s #stllovesottawa contest, which received many positive responses — “I love Ottawa because it’s a big city with a small town feel” and “We love Ottawa because of the sights, the people, and everything about it! No place like Ottawa!”
“It was totally a cold call,” said Irvine. “I sent Dwayne Brown an email that said, ‘I love your work, I love this project, I love what you’re doing! How can we work together?’ And that was it.”
And just as it was the spirit of the project — and the fact that it so obviously came from a place of passion and love — that captured Irvine’s attention, it was the same community spirit St. Laurent embraces and the light they wanted to shine on loveOttawa that led founder Dwayne Brown and his co-creator Anita Ruivo to say yes.
“We like how they’re involved in charities and in the community, and how they work hard to be a part of the city although they’re a big shopping centre,” said Ruivo. “That’s wonderful. And if we feel good about something, if it touches our heart, then why not?”
Irvine says it’s important to St. Laurent to be involved in the community, and points by way of example to the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation’s Bust a Move event, which over the five years they’ve been co-presenting sponsors, has raised more than $1.5 million for breast cancer research, all of it staying in the community. Another great example is the Bruyère Radiothon hosted in St. Laurent’s Centre Court, which raised $5.3 million last year.
Brown, a commercial-corporate photographer who moved to the city from Edmonton 17 years ago, started loveOttawa three years ago, and Ruivo became his partner in both his business and the loveOttawa project about a year later.
“As soon as I got here, I absolutely loved it,” said Brown. “I loved the architecture, the history and the mix of French and English culture and splattering of other ethnicities. I almost felt like I was moving to Canada. Ottawa, it’s everything that Canada is.”
loveOttawa’s Instagram site, which two months ago passed the 10,000 follower-mark, features nearly 1,500 images that each offers a reason to love Ottawa: interesting street art, appetizing plates of food, musicians at work, heritage architecture, all captured with a practised photographic eye.
They’re also on Facebook and on loveOttawa’s own website, which has a streamlined look that allows the photographs — each of an individual in front of a white backdrop, the city behind acting as a frame — to stand out. Each photograph has an accompanying interview which skilfully draws out the subject’s passion for the capital.
“When we ask people what they love about their city, we hear everything: the green space, the festivals, the waterways,” said Brown. “But almost everybody also talks about how kind the city is, how generous and how supportive it is.”
St. Laurent’s spring campaign features images of tulip beds, and Brown shot photographs for the fall and Christmas campaigns at Ottawa landmarks. The defining image of the spring campaign strongly references the loveOttawa portraits, but uses a fresh teal colour as background and an Ottawa model looking fun and friendly in clothes and accessories all available at St. Laurent stores.
The collaboration with Brown and Ruivo shows St. Laurent’s pride in their deep roots in Ottawa in the year leading up to its 50th anniversary in 2017 as the capital celebrates Canada’s 150th.
As Irvine looks into the future, she sees more collaborations for the centre, which has recently completed a renovation and will be a transit hub for Ottawa’s east-west light-rail line, now under construction.
“I’m always looking for opportunities to work with creative people,” said Irvine. “I believe there’s so much talent in our city. And it’s an amazing way to create lasting partnerships.”
Clearly, Brown and Ruivo, whose own collaboration has brought so much about the city into the light, also love to connect, and working with St. Laurent was a step taken in that spirit. A shopping centre is a gathering place for people to socialize, shop, eat and play.
“At the end of the day,” said Brown, “a city is all about its people.”
This story was produced by Postmedia Content Works on behalf of St. Laurent for commercial purposes. Postmedia’s editorial departments had no involvement in the creation of this content.