Go Canada!

Our annual “It Came From Canada” report rounds up great Canadian ideas that went global.

Each year we go to the Cannes ad fest to get a bead on what’s next.
Three years ago, trendspotter Marian Salzman (then EVP/CMO JWT Worldwide) said to focus on fostering deep consumer insight practices, and challenged Canada to step up more forcefully on the world stage, saying the Canadian industry could take a global leadership position in the CSR/eco arena. The potential of sustainability as a branding tool had been pointed out to us the prior year by JWT’s global brass, steering us towards JWT Canada’s Tony Pigott, who was then developing Ethos, a discipline that helps brands define and flex their moral code through humanitarian and green programs, which the network looked to as its global CSR practice lead.
This year Brandaid, one of Pigott’s humanitarian projects, was the sole Canadian entry on the Titanium & Integrated shortlist. Which is the other reason we go to Cannes – to get a bead on Canadian work that stands out on the world stage.
In addition to Brandaid, we’ve rounded up a few more “It Came From Canada” ideas we got wind of in Cannes, including the Canadian Mini work that went global – specifically, Taxi 2’s proficiency in efficiently relaying the brand’s eco messaging. Nice call, Marian.
We also take a look at a new planning tool out of BBDO that was singled out this year by Andrew Robertson, BBDO Worldwide president/CEO. He said it’s an example of Canada’s “pretty damn good” standing in the global network firmament, specifically in terms of developing new models, also citing the success of Juniper Park. The new tool will be used to help the agency collaborate across geographies, and consumer insight recognition plays a big role in its utility.
In the spirit of looking outside our borders to see how we stack up (a very Canadian preoccupation), our Forum columnists this issue are an expat Canadian who runs a global ad agency, and a Canadian marketer who launched a mobile brand abroad prior to taking the task on again back home. StrawberryFrog’s Scott Goodson shares how a Canadian upbringing plays a role in trying new models and taking on the world, and Wind Mobile’s Will Novosedlik encourages everyone to expand their horizons, and shows how global learning informs differentiated brands.
Our roundtable this issue looks at what’s next on the loyalty front, which is another discipline Canadian marketers are exceptionally good at; our rewards programs are a model and our expertise is sought out by other countries.
Aldo Cundari, whose eponymous agency has developed one of the top place-based branding practices, also gets a lot of work out of the U.S. due to specialist expertise. Given the size of the marcom pie here, and the number of agencies sharing it, specializing to appeal outside our borders is needed for a healthier bottom line. Like Don Watt did so well.
Cundari agrees with Salzman’s past advice: “you don’t want to be just an ad agency, you want to be the one with the deepest consumer insight.”
It’s this approach, the insights that lead to positioning or packaging changes, that’s behind the work of Canada’s marketers that ultimately gets picked up by HQ for global deployment, and strengthens the case for made-in-Canada marketing solutions.
“I believe we have more talent than other countries,” says Cundari. “We have to have a wider base, to do everything, to support the organization.” He goes on to posit that true model innovation, like eliminating the P&L impetus for effectiveness-limiting silo thinking, can only come out of try-harder countries like Canada or Australia, adding that you don’t need to physically be global to succeed. “People will gravitate to what works.”
But there’s a flip side to the growing trend to pick up global assets. As per Cundari: “the work has to be better than it used to be.”
No worries.

Cheers, mm
Mary Maddever, exec editor, strategy, Media in Canada and stimulant