Buy Canadian

Recently at a client offsite I entered into a very familiar conversation. That is, the differences between America and Canada; Americans and Canadians. Up until the last U.S. election, those differences were more subtle and nuanced. Often they degraded to the stereotypical whereby Canada and Canadians were identified as being nice and the nation was overrun with canoes, beavers and Mounties (insert your own joke here).

There have been many humorous takes on the difference including, “A Canadian is merely an unarmed American with health care.” And this from Edgar Friedenberg. “Canadians are more polite when they are being rude that Americans are when they are being friendly.” Then there is John Robert Colombo, “Canada could have enjoyed: English government, French culture, and American know-how. Instead it ended up with: English know-how, French government, and American culture.”

All kidding aside, Canadians are more fiercely proud and patriotic than other nations could imagine. Perhaps it is our niceness that keeps that fiery side under wraps. Where you see it expose itself is in our history and culture. We love to exhibit, wear and share our own icons.

This fact was proven to me when I came across the CBC’s Shop. If you do not know CBC stands for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Its logo is a darling among Canadian citizens. Their shop links to a bunch of designers and retailers who focus on the Canadian aesthetic, if such a thing exists. Author Douglas Coupland certainly believes it does. If you want to learn more buy his books Souvenir of Canada and Souvenir of Canada 2. And you should also read his fiction works, among them…Microserfs, JPod, and the wonderful, PlayerOne. The latter should be adapted as a stage play.

To give you a flavour of what I found consider Shelfies. A creative marketplace where most of the goods have a print design covering their entire being. Not only do they have the treasured CBC logo represented, they have Moosin’ Trudeau and Poutine covered garb.

For a more authentic and less tongue-in-cheek experience, visit Granted. This is a bespoke maker of thick sweaters that look very Canadian. It is interesting to note that their website operates in English and Japanese. I imagine shipping containers of these made-to-order artwears finding their way to Tokyo. Regardless, it is a clear endorsement. Granted Clothing even gets the CBC logo on one design.

Red Canoe sounds oh-so Canadian. Their goods pop-up in airports across the country. Its original source material was the Royal Canadian Air Force. Red Canoe‘s product line has extended betraying a strategy of wanting to go after Roots through leather goods and ubiquitous silk-screened shirts.

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Dissecting FT Weekend’s New Branding

Two months ago The Financial Times refreshed FT Weekend. This was introduced through an integrated marketing campaign “aimed at a growing readership who favour the immersive experience of print on the weekend while remaining highly engaged with digital journalism during the week.” That is an insightful and challenging objective.

What piqued my interest was the print component. The campaign’s tagline grabbed me (isn’t it great when that happens?). The three lines are compelling. “World-class writing” is sharp and smart. I can see how they arrived at it and am grateful they did. The cornerstone of journalism is a free press. That means possessing honesty and objectivity and marrying them with insight. Those are lofty ideals to sell a paper. Perhaps too lofty and I expect FT and their advertising agency thought so too.

Instead they now focus on global reach and fresh perspective along with how they write and communicate. The three words in the tagline are absolutely power-packed. The line represents the core skill-set of journalism and what must be the overriding differentiator of any publication online, off or both. That is quality of writing. As far as I know no other publication is landing on that notion or boldly claiming it even though it is fundamental.

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