May 25, 2009  |  Marketing Magazine  |  Comments

With due respect to Paul Lavoie (“Is Canada Selling Itself Short?” Marketing, Feb. 23), what’s wrong with being known simply as a quiet, clean, progressive country to live in or visit? The worth of that alone to the vast majority of humans, including the tiny global percentage of privileged marcom snots (counting me): priceless. As witnessed by our relative economic stability compared with pretty much the rest of the world, clearly, not trying to be a super-brand is going well for us, thanks very much.

Mirette Ghanem


I believe Paul Lavoie’s efforts to fuel a conversation on building a brand “Canada” is long overdue. I am commenting on Laurence Bernstein’s letter (“Branding’s Not the Answer,” Marketing, April 6).

I am a professional speaker on innovative thinking and often work in Australia and New Zealand. I always ask this question of business audiences: “can you name a Canadian product?” Few people can—even if they own a Blackberry. The only response is “maple syrup.” RIM makes little effort to promote its “Canadianness.” In Australia, Lululemon makes no obvious link to Canada, nor does McCain Foods. The only product I see promoting its Canadian roots is Canadian Club Ginger Beer, though it’s a clichéd version of beavers, moose and mountains.

Call me naive but would a national brand not be the end result of a carefully conceived strategy that engages industry and government policy based on a thorough analysis of international markets? To suggest Canada lacks international products and brands due to economic policy is silly. Molson executives had 100 years to create a global brand. Perhaps we should be more concerned about the inability of Canadian executives to create products with global appeal and then create the infrastructure to sell to the world. Where is the entrepreneurial insight and innovation?

New Zealand is a tiny country that sells to the world. Go to most grocery stores and notice the NZ Spring Lamb. Go to most adventure stores and notice the high-end Merino wool clothing from Ice Breaker. Go to the LCBO and notice the wines. Then notice its national brand for business: NewZealandNewThinking.com.

Canada is world class in a small number of industries but our collective inability to create consumer products for the world is simply bizarre. The implication is very clear: unless marketers create products and services to sell to the world, they will not need creative work for packaging, branding and advertising that work on a global scale.

Mr. Bernstein is right in saying Canada needs to find more international markets, but it must also create more higher-value products and services to sell to these markets. To start, why is no one asking why we are not adding value to our own agricultural industries? At minimum we could process our meat to create a “Canadian brand” of premium and safe food sold to the world. If companies created beef brands such as “Rocky Mountain Beef” or “Ontario Gold” this improves productivity and employs people in the marketing business. Instead of debating, go to Loblaws and study the breadth of lamb products and other fare coming from the Kiwis. Let’s learn some lessons and then encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs who see the value in selling Canada to the world.

Ed Bernacki
The Idea Factory

Loading comments, please wait.
Magazine Daily RSS