A Moose, a Beaver and a Creative Director Walk into a Pitch Meeting….

Canada 151 doesn’t quite have the same ring as Canada 150, does it?

Last year brands and their marketing teams flocked (in a V formation, no doubt) from all over to wear their maple-leaf shaped hearts on their sleeves, in celebration of the sesquicentennial (yes, I looked that up) of the Canadian Confederation.

If you made it through the summer without spotting a Stetson hat on a welcome mat or a Canada goose on your morning juice, or maybe a beaver on your beer can or a moose advertising a minivan (or any number of other iconic Canadian symbols adorning otherwise everyday products), you were one of the few elusive consumers that evaded getting trapped in the wide-cast net of the Canada-crazed consumer marketer.

While lots of strategy, creativity and hard work were behind each and every one of these patriotic programs, one year later it can be hard to recall a handful – if any – of the campaigns that dominated the warm weather months of 2017.

So – 151 may not be as nice and round a number as 150, but it IS a good opportunity to use the sesquicentennial + 1 (I’m trying to start a thing, here) as an opportunity to think back on some of the iconic Canadian campaigns and/or advertisements that have stuck in our collective mindset.

Whether the campaigns dripped with enough maple syrup to make their North of 44 origins unmistakable, or eschewed the home-grown emotion in favour of strategic, brand-elevating, border-neutral narratives, these are the Canadian themed and/or bred campaigns that have left the biggest mark with the marketers at #klcbestteam.

Sick Kids – “Vs. Limits”

Powerful storytelling for an incredibly important cause.

“The best marketing connects with the audience on a truly emotional level, and there’s no better example of that recently than the Vs. campaign from Sick Kids. Raw, powerful and filled with imagery that changes the narrative around childhood illness from a focus on weaknesses or struggle, to one of the unencumbered strength and endless fighting attitude of those living it.” – MR

Eaton’s – The Eaton’s Catalogue

A tactic launched in 1884 remains an industry standard today.

Original catalogue

“The ORIGINAL department store catalogue, quickly copied by plenty of others. Still a method used by marketers more than 130 years later.” – MJ

Canadian Tire – “A Bike Story”

On the topic of mail-order catalogues, CT brings us a boy, a booklet, and a dream come true.

“As a kid that spent plenty of time on a farm – much of it atop a BMX – even at a young age this commercial and its imagery of a young boy dreaming of exploring an open space on two wheels connected directly with me. Once it was time to move from the one speed bike to the 10 speed, you can be sure that bike was purchased from Canadian Tire” – MR

Dairy Farmers of Ontario – “Milk Rap”

We’re still waiting for this to hit Spotify.

“Canada is known for its poutine, and where else do cheese curds come from if not from the Dairy Farms of Ontario? This campaign is a perfect encapsulation of Canada: agriculture, excessive denim and keepin’ it real. Also, catchy song!” – IC

Molson Canadian – “Bubba Keg”

“Bu-bu-bu-beer”? More like “Cla-cla-cla-classic!”

“It’s hard to be more Canadian than a commercial about beer, hockey, friends and bursting into spontaneous, collective song. Kidding about that last one, but Molson’s Bubba Beer commercials pretty accurately sum up the experience of enjoying a cold one while watching the hockey game with your buds – newly found organ and all.”- MH

National Film Board of Canada – “Log Driver’s Waltz”

If there was a three-minute hole in CBC programming, you knew what was being aired.

“Okay, not exactly an ad, except maybe for the log driving profession, but it’s iconic stature surely earns it a place in Canadian broadcasting history. Is it a music video? A film short? A commercial? A buffer between daytime television? It’s all those things, and it’s catchy as hell. And now I’ve got you signing it, don’t I?” –  JA

Concerned Children’s Advertisers – “House Hippo”

There would be no Planet Earth if not for the trail blazed by the illustrious North American House Hippo.

“If you ever find yourself in a room full of Canadians discussing their favourite pieces of 90s nostalgia (as one does), mention the words “house hippo” and the guaranteed reaction will be an excited shout of “Yes!!” One of the most quintessentially Canadian ad campaigns, which has managed to stay a part of Canada’s pop culture memory for the past 20 years, it was probably one of the first ads to go viral (well, as viral as possible for 1999) and its message (critical thinking and asking questions) is especially important today. Now I’m going to go buy a house hippo tote bag that I discovered while writing this.” – MH

Laura Secord

Pudding + singing + dairy farming = pure French Canadiana.

“Two words: Rene Simard. The Quebec market never stood a chance.” – AL

McCain Superfries – “The Strong, Silent Type”

Not every great commercial needs a catchy jingle… or even much of a script.

“Who doesn’t remember Jay silently enjoying his favourite dish? This ad didn’t need words to speak to a generation (or two, considering how long it ran) that enjoyed these fries while watching some afterschool Saved by the Bell.” –  LV

Grecian Formula 16 – Rocket Richard

Before Keith Hernandez and Clyde Frazier began promoting Just for Men, there was Habs legend Rocket Richard as the face (and mane) of Grecian Formula 16.

“A tagline as iconic as ‘Two minutes for looking so good!’ should be better remembered than it is” – AL

And of course….

Molson Canadian – “I Am Canadian”

When we sent the email asking team members to name an iconic Canadian campaign, you can be certain 80% of the immediate responses were for the rant that united a nation.


“The ORIGINAL Canadian rant that had me feeling passionately patriotic at the age of 8.” – EG