2017 is Canada’s big year! It can be a big year for your brand as well if you market Canada 150 effectively.
There are two approaches you can take when marketing Canada 150. One is the obvious heritage angle: using Canadian history, cultural symbols and links to the past. The other is to connect to the Canadians of today with our current values and identity. Our diversity and equality sets us apart on the world stage. This is boosted thanks to our famed Prime Minister, spokespeople and celebrities like Drake, who speaks proudly about Canada to a young audience.
President’s Choice kicked off 2017 with their #EatTogether spot, which celebrates how food brings people of all backgrounds together. PC advocates putting down our phones and gathering at the table to share stories celebrating our differences.
Authenticity is crucial.
The only way your Canada 150 marketing can fail is if your brand pretends to be something it’s not. If you’re lucky enough to have Canada in your name, a beaver as a logo or maple syrup in your veins, take that heritage route. Create a link from your brand’s history to the nation’s history, but be authentic. Don’t make claims you were a Father of Confederation.
If you’re a newer Canadian brand, how do you represent the Canada of today? It may be on a smaller scale, but a local approach can speak volumes. Everyone loves a small town story.
Beau’s Brewery is the official beer sponsor of Ottawa 2017. Beau’s is partnering with various locations country-wide to create a special 150 series releasing a new craft beer each month of 2017. Each beer honours a different region and unique aspect of Canada.
Go deeper than just hockey, maple syrup and “eh”!
Stereotypical Canadiana will only take you so far – even if you are taking the traditional cultural symbols marketing angle. Think outside of the box. Instead of hockey, try ringette, sledge hockey or a referee’s or zamboni driver’s story. Using a famous Canadian as a spokesperson or an icon of our past? Look further than Terry Fox or Wayne Gretzky. Find the story of an unsung hero, the voice of a community or the champion of a charitable event.
Home Hardware is using a meaningful and uplifting Canadian symbol for their marketing. Partnered with the National Capital Commission, they created the Canada 150 tulip – the official tulip of Canada’s sesquicentennial. It was developed in the Netherlands and symbolizes our friendship and their gratitude for the role Canadian soldiers played in their liberation.
You vs. the other guy
What are your biggest competitors likely to do for Canada 150 branding? You’ll want to take an approach that will differentiate your brand from its competition. Your competition may be at the top of their category or have more claim to Canada, but everyone loves an underdog story. It’s very Canadian to be polite and come in second place.
One example of this is WestJet vs. Air Canada. WestJet has valuable insight into Air Canada’s strategy after their “Fly the Flag” Rio Olympics spot. WestJet should play to its strengths of being the employee-owned airline that truly cares for its customers. I expect WestJet will pull off yet another charity event, bigger and bolder than ever, to show their dedication to Canadians’ wellbeing.
A partnership can take your brand to a new place. Corporate citizenship and responsibility is more important than ever. Support a social cause, initiative or nonprofit organization to do some good for Canada’s communities.
For 2017, Hudson Bay Company released a limited edition Grand Portage Collection of souvenirs and merchandise. The proceeds go toward supporting the Great Trail project – the world’s longest trail system. With the help of HBC, the trail will be completed in 2017 to bring Canadians together through adventure and connect Canada from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The Grand Portage and Great Trail are calling all Canadians to explore and show their love to our country.
Make 2017 about the people
Nothing is more Canadian than Canadians ourselves. In a time of global unrest over immigration and refugees, being such an accepting country has changed how the rest of the world views us. Make sure your brand’s 2017 marketing is as inclusive as we are.
RBC’s #Make150Count has done just that. RBC is giving $150 to youth around the country and challenging them to do something great in their community. RBC believes in celebrating Canada through the generation that will shape its future. Let the people’s Canada 150 story be your story.
I’m an aspiring copywriter, fresh out of school, hoping to share my passion for writing and Canada with the rest of the advertising industry. Just two weeks into my internship at Acart Communications and the creative team of mentors has already taught me so much.
Contact Acart to take your brand’s Canada 150 marketing from boring old fries to a poutine covered in rich golden gravy, with a double double on the side.
Feature Image: Canada Day 2014 @ Canada Place by GoToVan https://www.flickr.com/photos/gotovan/14373603647/