Know Canada?

Below, is the comment I left on an article on Brand New. My thoughts on Canada’s new campaign generated some interest, so I decided to share them with you. Enjoy it!

“I like the simplicity of the design, as well as applications and the selection of images. As usual, BMD has done an excellent “design” job. Yet, educating Americans should not be the “end.” It should be a “mean to an end.” And, if that “end” is to attract Americans, I do not feel strongly about the campaign. Let me explain…

Jeannette Hanna wrote a great book about iconic Canadian brands: Ikonica… Somewhere in her book, she captures a dialogue:
-Why can’t we create powerful brands?
-Don’t you think Tim Hortons, Canadian Tire and RBC are powerful?
-But they are not world class brands!
-But, Four Seasons is Canadian!
-Yeah but it is a luxury niche brand. We can’t create mass market brands.
-How about Blackberry?
-Yeah, but…

As an immigrant living in Canada, I hear similar dialogues every day. An archetypal research states that Canadians feel “outward inferiority, inward superiority.” The above dialogue is a case in point, which I find very interesting. Canada is a fantastic country, and the above campaign confirms it. But, not to Americans… To Canadians themselves… I think the campaign unknowingly helps Canadians to boost their self-confidence, which is a fantastic and welcome achievement. But the primary objective of the campaign was different.

If the campaign targets the Americans, and if the goal is to eventually get them visit or invest in Canada, then I think the campaign speaks too much to our cerebral cortex (aka brain) and too little to our limbic brain (aka heart). (If you are interested in this subject, you can read any of Clotaire Rapaille’s books.) Unfortunately, knowing and sharing the truth is not enough. For instance, NBA TV often repeats that basketball was invented by a Canadian, but what does that change for an average American basketball lover? What value does it add to Toronto Raptors? Again, knowledge by itself is not enough. So, the same thing will apply to the knowledge of… the peanut butter.

We, as Canadians, should celebrate our history, but also tie every single one of our past accomplishments to present events, people, and successes. In a way, our brand should act as a bridge connecting our past with our future. The campaign lists facts, yet fails to unveil the shared DNA of all Canada-related events. THAT will speak to people’s limbic brain.

Again, if the goal is to educate Americans, the campaign is successful. But this campaign won’t make them act. I hope the follow-up campaigns will be about the archetype of Canada and speak to Americans’ hearts. Let’s wait and see…

540-698 Dovercourt Rd, Toronto, ON, Canada

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