Touching upon Canadiana, yet again!

One of my first blog posts was about Molson Canadian, the beer that drew on a sense of national pride, that owned all things Canadian and silenced stereotypes once and for all. (Read post here)

Along the way I’ve found many nuances of brands skirting the topic of what it means to be Canadian or to live in the great white north. From the landscape to the lifestyle to the type of people – I’ve heard it all. I recently saw an ad for Canadian Tire, a hardware chain that drew inspiration from the same potion of Canadiana – it talks about our love for the great outdoors.

It made me take a step back and reexamine the strength and merit of this over used sing-songs-of-all-things-canadian style of advertising.

I reflected on Indian advertising, and found a similar vein. India being way too diverse to touch upon geographical traits, brands touch upon Indian behavioral stereotypes to make an instant connection with the consumer. Here’s an example: (this ad is for a VoiP calling service for Indians living abroad, hence the use of cents instead of rupees)

I lived in Miami Beach for the first quarter of this year and was tuned in to the superbowl craze that envelops America. The ads being as important as the game, I sat up and paid attention. And then I saw it – a pride in homeland, or in this case, home state type of ad. Chrysler’s Detroit commercial, featuring Eminem.

My point here is, when does this patriotic/cultural stereotyping stop being heart-warming and start sounding well, slightly pseudo? Do Canadians really rake up a 6 ft pile of leaves just so the kids can play in it? Isn’t it cliched to assume all Indians behave in the same manner? And is it okay to start by assuming Detroit knows nothing about luxury?

One could argue that it’s just another way of connecting with the consumer on a meaningful level – by generalizing or playing to common beliefs. But is the consumer starting to tire of being pigeon-holed? When is enough,enough? Or are we already there? I welcome a discussion,as always.


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