Canoe navigates awareness waters

It's war - or e-war, anyway....

It’s war – or e-war, anyway.

Canada’s online news and information providers are locked in a desperate struggle. The object: to be the first place consumers stop when they venture out into the wilderness of the Internet.

The latest offensive in this battle comes from Quebecor-owned Canoe, which has just launched a national multi-media campaign designed to increase awareness both of the brand itself, and of its numerous information resource offerings, which include Slam! Sports, Jam! Showbiz, CNews and Lifewise.

The campaign, which was created by Montreal-based Bos, is the most ambitious marketing effort Canoe has mounted since its launch, says Rosanne Caron, vice-president of marketing and research for the online service.

"We have 4.7 million unique visitors on a monthly basis, but there are still a lot of people who aren’t familiar with Canoe," she says. "So part of this is simply getting people to come to us."

The ads are running in this country’s top 10 major markets, primarily in print and television. While individual executions spotlight particular offerings, such as Slam! Sports, all work to reinforce the overall Canoe brand as well, says Claude Carrier, Toronto-based vice-president for Bos, which won the assignment in February.

Where Canoe’s previous campaign (created by Ambrose Carr Linton Carroll) stressed content, the new creative puts the focus on users themselves. Each ad features the image of an individual meant to represent a typical "Canoer." He or she clutches a paddle – the visual signifier for the brand – and is posed in a manner that suggests his or her personal area of interest: news, sports, entertainment and so on.

The ads also include a scroll bar graphic that gives the names of the various Canoe sub-brands, and highlights the particular offering promoted in each execution.

Another small but important element of the campaign is the change of Canoe’s tag from "Canada’s Internet network" to "Your Internet network." Caron says the new line was deemed more appropriate, given that Canoe is looking at expansion into the U.S., and it serves as well to underline the idea of personalization.

The online environment, she adds, is a challenging one in which to do branding at present. "There’s a real proliferation of brands," she says. "And with new things developing every week, you have to be prepared to move very quickly."

Google launches a campaign about news connections

The search engine is using archival footage to convey what Canadians are interested in.

Google Canada and agency Church + State have produced a new spot informed by research from the search giant that suggests it is a primary connector for Canadians to the news that matters to them – a direct shot across the bow of the legislators presently considering Bill C-18.

In a spot titled “Connecting you to all that’s news,” the search giant harnesses archival footage reflective of many of the issues Canadians care about deeply, including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, truth and reconciliation and the war in Ukraine, to demonstrate the point that many Canadians turn to Google as a gateway to the information and news they’re seeking.

“From St. John’s to Victoria and everywhere in between, when Canadians want to understand or get updated on the most pressing topics, Google connects them to the news sources that provide it,” says Laura Pearce, head of marketing for Google Canada. “All of us at Google are proud to be that consistent and reliable connection for Canadians to the news they’re searching for.”

In some ways, the goal of the campaign was to tap into the varied emotional responses that single news stories can have with different audiences across the country.

“News may be factual, but how people respond to it can be very emotional,” explains Ron Tite, founder and CCO at Church + State. “Importantly, those emotions aren’t universal. One news story can create completely different reactions from different people in different places. Because of that, we simply wanted to let connecting to news be the focus of this campaign. We worked diligently to license a wide variety of actual news footage that we felt would resonate with Canadians.”

The campaign can be seen as a statement by the search provider on Bill C-18 – the Online News Act – that is currently being deliberated by a parliamentary committee. That legislation seeks to force online platforms such as Meta’s Facebook and Alphabet’s Google to pay news publishers for their content, echoing a similar law passed in Australia in 2021. The Act has drawn sharp rebukes from both companies, with Facebook threatening to ban news sharing on its platform.

Google Canada is not commenting on whether this new campaign is a response to C-18, but it has been public in its criticism of the legislation. In testimony delivered to parliament and shared on its blog, Colin McKay, the company’s head of public policy and government relations, said, “This is a history-making opportunity for Canada to craft world-class legislation that is clear and principled on who it benefits.” However, he noted that C-18 is “not that legislation.”

The campaign launched on Oct. 24 and is running through December across cinema, OLV, OOH, podcast, digital and social. Airfoil handled the broadcast production.