Export Development Canada turns pandemic pivots into a new way forward

Three disparate businesses help the crown corp show how this year's challenges can lead to future growth.


Export Development Canada is building on its own pandemic marketing pivot by helping other businesses turn their innovations from the past year into opportunities for businesses growth internationally.

The crown corp, which is tasked with supporting and bolstering trade between Canada and other countries, has launched “The Unusual Way Forward,” a campaign that profiles businesses that are in three different sectors, but nonetheless see opportunities abroad thanks to some big swings they have taken over the last 14 months.

In three long-form video spots, created by McCann, the business owners discuss things like how they are making salmon farming more sustainable, keeping data secure as people work remotely and exploring the role of robotics in accessibility. Their work are the kinds of things that were either necessary moves to keep business going during the pandemic, or have become more relevant during it. And the entrepreneurs not only tell the stories about how they have overcome adversity this year, but also how EDC is helping them use those changes for future growth

Daniel Boisvert, VP of marketing and digital channels at Export Development Canada, tells strategy the idea was to recognize the challenging circumstances businesses find ourselves in, but to add a bit of optimism by focusing on new opportunities.

For example, Poseidon Ocean Systems has one of the few “cleantech” system in salmon farming, and its relevance to other companies’ own sustainability goals could “revolutionize” the industry around the world.

“And we believe these are examples that can inspire other businesses,” Boisvert says, with the campaign targeting businesses in Canada that are looking for support by pursuing opportunities beyond our shores.

Pre-pandemic, Export Development Canada was looking to increase its brand awareness and develop new “digital knowledge products” in order to meet the evolving needs of its customers in the export sector. When the pandemic began, the agency continued to update its brand positioning and adopt more agile thinking in order to respond to the new and often-changing needs Canadian businesses have faced since March 2020.

Boisvert says the approach is working, as reflected in improved brand health metrics, and that the organization is receiving more attention.

“We’ve been there front and centre helping Canadian businesses,” Boisvert says, adding that the improved measures are a result of businesses looking for solutions to survive or even thrive in a very difficult environment, an insight applied to the new campaign.

“The Unusual Way Forward” launched Wednesday and is running across Canadian broadcast, print, social, online and digital audio. Digital media is working well for the organization, Boisvert says, having moved away from OOH and targeting business travelers in light of lockdowns.

Export Development Canada typically does two campaigns per year, and still expect to run a bigger national campaign around the fall, Boisvert says.

Media Experts handled the media planning for the campaign.