Cannes Lions

Pay Tribute


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For 100 years the Royal Canadian Legion has run a fundraising program called “The Poppy Appeal” which benefits Canadian war veterans and their families. Each year, hundreds of war veterans and volunteers (many of whom are seniors) flock to high-traffic locations such as shopping centres and government buildings to hand out lapel pin poppies as an act of Remembrance in the weeks leading up to Remembrance Day (November 11).

These poppies are traditionally pinned on to the jackets of Canadians in exchange for a cash donation. This year, the global pandemic meant that the most vulnerable citizens of our society (the elderly) could not be put in harm’s way and would not be asked to take part in the donation drive as they had in previous years. For the first time in 100 years, veterans would not be handing out poppies.


This Remembrance Day HSBC helped modernize the Royal Canadian Legion’s fundraising efforts with a Covid-19 friendly, fully contactless Poppy donation box. 250 of the aptly named “Pay Tribute™” Poppy boxes were created to give Canadians choice in how they donate while preserving the tradition of wearing a lapel pin poppy as an act of Remembrance.

Our solution also solved two additional pain-points for the charity. The first being that cash donation boxes in the past had often been the target of thieves, thus having a cashless box meant it wouldn't be stolen. And secondly, the fact that fewer and fewer Canadians carry cash with them meant that the cashless payments would allow for more donations from more people who would prefer to donate through a cashless option.


HSBC is a non-domestic bank in Canada with low salience amongst Canadians. While they excel with international customers, their values were relatively unknown to domestics.

By partnering with the Royal Canadian Legion in support of the poppy donation drive, HSBC was able to demonstrate that they understood the importance of the tradition of wearing a poppy – even in the midst of a global pandemic.

To the Royal Canadian Legion, a partner like HSBC who could help modernize their fundraising efforts and bring the 100-year-old charity into the 21st century using the latest technology was imperative in preserving the time-honoured tradition of wearing a lapel pin poppy.

And for the younger generations in Canada who increasingly don't carry cash with them, this was an opportunity to reach across the divide and connect with them by offering a donation method that matched their behaviours.


Working with an all-Canadian team of payment solutions partners, fabricators, technology providers and designers, we created the “Pay Tribute” Poppy box. The first cashless, contactless and wireless poppy donation box which accepted a $2 donation with the tap of a debit, credit or smartphone.

For the physical design of the box, our aim was to pay tribute to the sacrifices of our veterans by incorporating symbols of military monuments into the box design. The rows of poppies inspired by the famous poem “Flanders Fields” was a departure from the traditional single container to house the poppies.

A Canadian military gravestone inspired the backing of the box which doubles as a lid for shipping and storage. And finally, the inscription on the tombstone lid was inspired by the military cenotaph in Halifax.


The first year has been so successful that HSBC and the Royal Canadian Legion have embarked on a long-term partnership to extend the scale of the program in the following years to come. In the first year alone, the new boxes generated tens of thousands of new poppy donors.

The redesigned iconic poppy boxes caught the attention of national media as well, generating over 1,400 news articles with a reach of over 232 million media impressions valued at over 11 million dollars. The boxes have been commented on and shared by municipal and federal government officials including the mayor of Toronto, John Tory as well as the minister of defense, Harjit Sajjan, and Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.

The boxes were ranked as one of the top 5 financial campaigns by AdForum and included in Strategy Magazine’s “Good list”, their yearly round-up the year's most impactful campaigns.

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