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Tourism ads to shun Mounties and moose
KEITH McARTHUR
12 May 2005
The Globe and Mail

The Canadian Tourism Commission is sidelining the “Mounties, mountains and moose” it has relied on for decades to attract foreign tourists.

It's part of an extreme makeover the commission is giving to the “Canada” brand, after market research found Canada has lost much of its appeal as a destination.

“Canada has been advertised for the same way for the last 65 years, and it was always a position based on Mounties, mountains and moose. . . .” said Jean Chrétien, vice-president of marketing and sales at the CTC.

“It made Canada a ‘one-product' kind of country, and we're not.”

But some branding experts said it will be a mistake to take the focus off the clichés that foreigners associate with Canada.

“Show a Mounted Police to anyone in Europe — they think it's fantastic,” said Paul Lavoie, chairman and chief executive officer of Toronto's Taxi Advertising and Design.

“Don't lose the clichés. Canada is nature. We have a Maple Leaf on our flag — that's our brand.”

As part of its plans to take the emphasis off nature, the CTC will retire the “Discover your true nature” slogan it has used for the past seven years. The new tagline will be: “Canada. Keep Exploring.”

Images of mountains and lakes may still play a background role in the new campaign, but will no longer be front and centre.

Advertisements with the new branding won't be ready for several months.

Mr. Chrétien (who has a famous name but is not the former prime minister) said the CTC needs to do more than tell people that Canada has beautiful nature or great cities. It needs to make foreign tourists see Canada as a “place where they can fulfill their dreams.”

“The idea of the campaign will be to make them understand that Canada has everything for them to explore, depending on what they want to do,” Mr. Chrétien said.

Instead of focusing on the specifics of what Canada has to offer, the new campaign will talk about Canada in more general terms as a place for tourists who want to explore. Just as Las Vegas has managed to associate its city with the idea of freedom, Canada will aim to associate its brand with the notion of exploring, Mr. Chrétien said.

The CTC wants the new campaign to boost the value of tourism to Canada by 23 per cent, or $7.5-billion, over the next five years.

In future, the commission may rely less on mass market advertising, and spend more money on other forms of marketing, said David Leonard, president of DDB Canada, the advertising agency behind the new brand positioning.

As an example, he said DDB and the CTC could develop a television program highlighting Canadian travel for the Discovery Channel.

Mr. Leonard said the fact that foreigners think of nature first when they think of Canada means it does not have to be emphasized.

“If we have all that imagery communicated around the world for decades, let's move on, let's get to higher ground,” he said.

Chris Staples, co-creative-director at Rethink Communications Inc. in Vancouver, said it makes sense for the CTC to focus on Canadian attributes other than nature, as long as nature still plays an important role.

“You have to remember that that's what people think of you, and that just to ignore that would be foolhardy in my opinion. In other words, to do a campaign that didn't have any mountains in it would be crazy, but to do a campaign that said we're more than just mountains would make a lot of sense.”

Darrell Bricker, president of Ipsos-Reid, approves of the new brand positioning. Ipsos-Reid's global research shows that when foreigners are asked what they think of when they think of Canada, they talk about clean air and water and natural vistas. But Mr. Bricker said that kind of brand positioning will appeal only to one type of tourist and doesn't reflect the reality of Canada.

“We're not all out there as coureurs des bois or something like that,” he said.
 

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samsonyuen said:
I've seen ads here in the UK for Canada, in association with Air Canada and Ms. Celine Dion.
are we relying on the sex appeal of Celine Dion to attract visitors??

This will have a worse effect than SARS!!
 

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^ :laugh:

It's about time something changed. It would be nice to tone down the Moose and Mountie imagery. You know the Brits always call us Moose Shaggers..., which is pretty tame, but...
 

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It would be nice to change the Vancouver Olympic emblem while their at it. It just reasserts the cliché that we all live in igloos and eat seal meat.
 
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