Tom Brokaw Explains Canada To Americans

Tom Brokaw,anchor and managing editor – NBC, explains the relationship between Canada and The United States, in a pre-recorded short film that aired on NBC, prior to the Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on Feb. 12th, 2010.

I found it interesting because contrary to popular belief of underlying animosity between the Canucks and Americans, this video showcases the similarities and long shared camaraderie the two neighbouring countries share.

I think it would be interesting to see brands build on this friendship between the two nations that are so different yet come together when the situation demands it.

To sum up the relationship between the States and Canada, in the words of JFK:

“Geography has made us neighbours, History has made us friends,Economics has made us partners and Necessity has made us allies”


Whose country is it anyway?

A walk down any major street or a visit to any govt office in Canada will tell you that there really is no such thing as the average Canadian anymore.

I say this, because in the few days that I’ve lived here, I’ve discovered that Canada, much like my hometown Bombay, is a land of immigrants. There’s an amalgamation of skin tones, races, language and nationalities. They seem so alike in their outlook to life, yet are quite literally, worlds apart in terms of cultural and behavioural nuances. So what does this mean to the marketeer? How should brands talk to the masses? Will the rise of multi-cultural specialists mean spreading the brand too thin? Does this culture curry hinder campaign effectiveness or help brands rise taller? 

A closer look at a few general immigrant hot buttons that brands need to take stock of:

1. Reassurance goes a long way: When new to the country, every immigrant wants to feel a sense of belonging. And it is always the host that must make the first move in saying hello. Likewise, brands need to reach out to the immigrant, shake their hand and say we’re here for you- the ones that do this will be passed down through generations, etched into diaries,day planners and happy hearts for a long while.

2. I know my way around, do not patronise me: Immigrants, unlike what many locals might want to believe, find their way around quickly are more strong-willed than they appear to be. They have a streak of determination to make it against all odds and do not like being sympathised with. Hence, mere translations of commercials into ethnic languages cannot pass off as being ‘multi-cultural’.

3. I am secretly very proud of my own country no matter how ‘Canadian’ I may appear to be:  Adaptation is rather fast in this country, however, beneath the fur coats and fake accents, every immigrant holds his country close to heart. The immigrant consumer will latch onto brands that realise and uphold this fact,  almost like a child would to his warm blanket.

& Here is what I think brands need to be aware of, while reaching out to the immigrant:

1. National brands are relevant only when understood at a grassroot level – so while the thought can be ‘Canadian’, the ‘insights’ need to be local, or at least touch upon a common chord with the masses. Although, while grouping/segmenting, a thorough cultural immersion needs to be done before segmenting large clusters together as one. For eg: The entire Asian community does not think/behave alike.

2. Tweak the outer layers of the brand’s personality while speaking to different segments, but never compromise the brand’s core.

3. Immigrants today, form a majority of the youth and working sector of Canada. As the average age of these groups is lower than that of other Canadians, they will constitute a growing share of Canada’s younger consumers. Brands need to conduct youth studies of these groups, as they will form a significant part of the country’s make-up.

4. Think media. While being media-neutral is usually a good starting point for brands, when it comes to reaching out to the immigrant, it is important to understand their media habits to ensure messages intended for them, reach them.

The ethnic landscape in Canada is fast changing, brands that are quick on the uptake are the ones that will survive the ever-changing Canadian culture mosaic.


Canadian marketing association.

Molson Canadian: more than just beer

For a beer brand to make commercials that instill a sense of patriotism and national pride is rather commendable. That’s exactly what Molson Canadian has done. The commercial has an average Canadian lad up on stage, proudly dispersing stereotypes about Canada and telling the audience what Canada is and is not.

Firstly, why Canada? Could any other nation pull off a similar ad? Yes and no. Molson Canadian has hit upon a very delicate spot – Canadians are always trying to shake off the American yoke and are tired of playing second fiddle to Uncle Sam. The beer has merely acted like a catalyst in helping Canadians embrace their land and feel proud to be Canadian,instead of apologetic about their differences.

Some lines from the ad ( I believe in peace-keeping, not policing, Diversity not assimilation ) stand out sharply as Canada’s attempt at standing taller than the States; while others are clearly pride drivers (Canada is the 2nd largest landmass! The 1st nation in hockey! And the best part of North America).

All this, while keeping ‘beer personality’ codes in mind: that of being a loud, back slapping, guzzler drink/buddy beverage and hence could plug this need gap, of being able to boldly stand up for the country.

They have even gone on to make a commercial with an “I am Canadian” anthem, which is pure goosebump material; especially when sitting in a bar, it’ll make you want to proudly call for a Molson.

What is truly wonderful, is how even though the beer isn’t really top-notch, it has created a powerful tool for itself – a symbol of what the country stands for. Canadians are stereotyped just as much as any other country is, if not more and this is ad helps debunk a handful of those stereotypes,especially American beliefs.

Another point in question: Do brands that take on a larger role garner a stronger place in the consumer’s heart? Because nowhere in the commercial is there any mention of what the product is like, and yet by the end of it, it makes you want to stand up and clap and go out and buy a Molson. Market leader being Corona, and Heineken at number 2, Molson Canadian shares 3rd place with Miller Genuine Draft. For a beer that doesn’t quite deliver on taste, the advertising has certainly pulled a lot of its weight.

Molson Canadian to me, has become quite a cult brand with these ads. Patriotism is a tricky topic to touch upon given that you could come off sounding preachy if not done right.

EDIT: July 2013
Molson recently brought back its ode to patriotism for Canada Day this year. 10 years after the first communication (above) of its kind was out. This one was brand activation based and hinged on a strong insight. Again, goosebump material. Here’s what they did: Molson fridge