Branding Canada

Often at this time of year, tourists arrive from far and wide, perhaps with hopes of coming across moose 'n' Mounties at every turn. Or at least, that's what our typical travel ads would tell them.

Often at this time of year, tourists arrive from far and wide, perhaps with hopes of coming across moose ‘n’ Mounties at every turn. Or at least, that’s what our typical travel ads would tell them.

Luckily, the Canadian Tourism Commission has opted to go against the grain (including, we trust, banal imagery of golden Prairie wheat fields) to seek an emotional connection with potential visitors. The new tag line is ‘Canada. Keep Exploring,’ and the Saskatoon-based Crown corp. aims to position this land of ours as one where you can take the road less travelled – and thus reap the benefits of once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

While executions won’t break until late 2005, we thought we’d ask Canuck creatives from across the country (and one expat) to express what a ‘come-to-Canada’ campaign should include. (The task was particularly embraced by Due North Communications copywriter and political junkie Joe O’Neill.)

So what’s the answer? Apparently, Oprah, quarters and duct tape, among other things.

i. Canadada

Let’s embrace the futility of trying to define ourselves, and re-name our country Canadada, to incorporate Dadaism, the famed absurdist, ‘anti-art’ movement of the early 20th century.

‘O Canada’ would be replaced by a bewildering tone poem called ‘Notwithstanding,’ and instead of our present flag, we could have school children create a million edible ‘Not-a-Flags’ out of cheese curds and maple syrup.

If nothing else, France would love us.

Joe O’Neill, copywriter, Due North Communications, Toronto

ii. Un-America

We position Canada, literally and figuratively, in relation to a certain Republic whose actions of late have made it unpopular in much of the rest of the world. ‘Wars Canada has participated in include World War II. Wars not participated in include Vietnam, the invasion of Panama, and the one going on right now. That’s right, Canada! A hotbed of un-American activity since 1867.’ JO

iii. Wanna buy a duct?

We always talk about our country as a collection of diverse ethnic and cultural groups held together by a common bond. Let’s make that bond tangible, by stretching a single length of duct tape from Newfoundland to Vancouver Island. People all over the world will be interested in seeing what holds us together. And how long it will stick to the ground. JO

Wait, there’s more…

Launch a campaign that positions Canada as the worst place to go. Then PR it weeks later that the campaign was produced by the Canadian government to keep people out because it’s too good to share with everybody. Reverse psychology.

Scott Goodson, co-founder, StrawberryFrog, Amsterdam

Give Oprah a nice condo in Whistler as long as she’ll talk it up on

her show. Two million bucks Canadian for a condo gets you far more value in PR in American dollars.

Steve Williams, CD, Highwood Communications, Calgary

‘Get lost in Canada’ is a promotional stunt launched simultaneously in major cities throughout the world. Thousands of Canadian quarters will be dispersed through locations like Piccadilly Circus, Times Square, Tevi Fountain. They will bear a sticker with People will pick them up and by sheer curiosity go to the site where they will find a series of tongue-in-cheek clips featuring tourists who are literally lost in Canada’s great outdoors. What better way to experience Canada than to actually get lost in it!

The creative team of Hugues Choquette, Michèle Petitclerc, Markus

Dressler, Élyse Noël de Tilly and Bogdan Truta, Tam-TamTBWA, Montreal