So Canada: The proliferation of patriotism

December 19, 2012  |  Carly Lewis  |  Comments

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 17 issue of Marketing

Canada is cool, if you’re an advertising agency. New ads from Rona, Audi and Mr. Sub are playing the patriotism card, urging Canadians to keep their citizenship in mind when spending money this winter. “There seems to be an increased sense of patriotism and pride in our own brand right now,” says Glen Hunt.

Hunt was the mastermind behind the iconic Molson “I Am Canadian” campaign that had hoards of Canadians proudly drinking domestic beer and embracing their inner lumberjack. “Great advertising always hits an emotional chord. Patriotism can evoke a lot of emotion when it’s genuine,” says Hunt.

But ads need more than just homeland nostalgia to produce results, and Hunt says believability is key. “It has to represent more than just a veneer,” he says of branding with Canuck-specific iconography. “You can’t just wrap yourself in the flag. It has to be authentically Canadian. Ads that rely on old jokes and observances aren’t going to garner any new type of connection.”

With that in mind, here’s Marketing’s take on three new ads—including one from a German car company—that covet Canadiana.

Tactics: Friendly neighbours, landscape scenes, sentimental theme song, windmills, silos.

Relies on: Economic sustainability and a plea to buy Canadian.

But is it authentic? Yes—traffic jam of prairie cows and all.


Tactics: Coast-to-coast nature shots, wild animals, idyllic country roads and a melodramatic voiceover.

Relies on: Panoramic imagery aimed at the sophisticated car aficionado.

But is it authentic? Yes, if watched without sound.

Mr. Sub

Tactics: Silly stereotypes, well-mannered spokesman, moose costume, Mountie uniform, dog sled.

Relies on: Laughing at ourselves as a national pastime.

But is it authentic? Not at all. (That’s the punch line.)

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