CIRA brands people without ‘.ca’ websites as traitors

The organization's first TV campaign leans on national pride to steer business owners away from ".com" websites.

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has debuted its first-ever broadcast campaign, aimed at making the ownership of a “.ca” website a point of national pride for business owners.

The CIRA is the organization responsible for policies related to the internet in Canada, as well as the country’s involvement in international internet governance, but its primary task is managing Canada’s “.ca” top-level web domain.

According to CIRA president and CEO Byron Holland, more than half of Canadian businesses do not have their own website. When they decide to register a domain name for their website, “.com” is typically the most common starting point. It is also competing with hundreds of new, generic domains that have been made available in recent years (including “.pizza” and “.horse”), as well as a trend of startups and tech companies using domains from other countries in order to get a “.ai” or “.io” website.

To fight the perceived prestige of a “.com” domain, the CIRA’s first broadcast campaign focuses on making the “.ca” domain a point of national pride – to the point that it casts anyone who doesn’t use a Canadian domain name as a “traitor.”

In the TV spot, entrepreneurs who have a “.com” website are stopped by a team of Mountie-esque law enforcement officials using various “patriotic” means, like pouring maple syrup over a keyboard.

Holland says the campaign communicates facts that are relevant to its business-owner target, such as survey results showing that 83% of Canadian internet users prefer shopping on a site with a “.ca” domain name. All of the creative drives to the campaign microsite, which provides additional information on the benefits of a “.ca” domain, such as access to enhanced security features and the fact that registration fees are directed to the CIRA Community Investment Program that funds internet-related community projects across the country.

The ad debuted this week and will air on TV, through streaming services and in cinema within the Greater Toronto Area until Nov. 17, along with integrated social and search components. Giants & Gentlemen led creative for the campaign, with support from Push Media. The launch of the campaign also comes at a time when the CIRA is pushing federal party leaders running in Canada’s general election to embrace policies that ground the internet in principles of openness and trust, saying it’s a key to both the country’s democracy and its economic prosperity.

Correction: An earlier version of this story stated “Don’t Be a Traitor” is the CIRA’s first ad campaign. It is their first broadcast campaign.