Psst, want to know a secret?

Is it just me, or are Canadian marketers becoming increasingly coy? I'm not talking about showing some gumption in advertising, but actually sharing the ideas behind the gumption with the industry.

Is it just me, or are Canadian marketers becoming increasingly coy? I’m not talking about showing some gumption in advertising, but actually sharing the ideas behind the gumption with the industry.

Canadian businesses have always been reluctant to open up, even when the information is favourable. There seems to be trepidation that the competition will copy a brilliant ad campaign or something.

But it’s getting to the point where marketers are balking at divulging even the most innocuous details. Which makes you wonder how far the paranoia has gone.

Case in point is our little exchange with Playtex for this issue’s special report on next gen marketing opportunities. We profiled the Toronto-based brand’s clever mobile promo,

(page 36), for its SlimFit tampons. While one can assume who the target was (tween girls), the folks at Playtex wouldn’t say. That struck us as funny.

Here’s the thing: Whatever category your brand resides in, your foes are probably out there in the marketplace studying your tactics – and figuring out the target market, as well as the strategy behind them. They already know what you’re up to.

John Bradley, strategy’s regular columnist and former VP marketing at Cadbury Canada, says there is no doubt clients are becoming increasingly guarded, even when it comes to the most basic facts. He suggests a reason behind the madness: Maybe marketers have become so focused on internal ongoings, they are no longer actually paying attention to the competition. Yikes.

Whatever the reason, it’s a dangerous trend, since it can stunt an entire industry. Having a forum allows you to appropriate best practices from marketers that are outside your category. And that can have long-term impact, because your brand might just stick out in this age of ad clutter.

Just ask those brands featured in ‘Dare to be Deviant,’ (see page 27). Strategy staff writer Natalia Williams spoke to Peter van Stolk of Jones Soda fame about this philosophy, which he used to build his business.

It turns out van Stolk never saw Jones as a pop brand. As a result, he didn’t really pay attention to the Cokes of the world, but instead looked to the fashion label Quiksilver for insight. The result? A cult following, not to mention a brand that fully engages its consumer.

This type of approach can also enable brands to extend into other categories a lot more easily, since they aren’t typecast. For instance, Jones successfully launched a lip balm line, as well as a music site.

Now you know van Stolk’s secret to success. Isn’t it good to know?

Lisa D’Innocenzo, Editor