Mar 4, 2014
‘Economic Action Plan 2014 announces that a private sector steering committee will be established to lead the development of a “Made-in-Canada” consumer awareness campaign.
‘…To help address the interests of consumers and highlight the quality and range of Canadian products, as we compete in more diverse export markets, the Government will undertake consultations with the private sector to develop a “Made-in-Canada” branding campaign…’
As a proud Canadian, my right-off-the-top-of-my-head reaction to this proposed campaign is wildly enthusiastic. After all, we are most excellent shooters of pucks, drinkers of beer and extractors of petroleum. We are growers of wheat, sayers of “I’m sorry” and exporters of Arctic air masses. We are Canadians and right now, at least, our national identity is about our success at hockey and freestyle athletes who spend much of their time in the air, upside down. But this is more than own the podium. This is a sustainable increase in sales.
The first of my whole cranium full of questions about this campaign has to do with who we are targeting. The stated purpose is consumer awareness. But to me, any Made in Canada program has to win the hearts and will of both manufacturers and their customers who each must believe that a Made in Canada logo will add cachet to whatever they’re trying to sell. As Canadians, we love our country. We’re proud of our country. But, we’re also savvy enough to realize that a Made in Canada program has to stand for something beyond red mittens and waving the flag.
If we’re consulted at Spyder Works, and I hope we are, my first concern would be confusing Canada-the-country with Canada-the-manufacturer, exporter and purveyor of customer satisfaction. Which positive attributes of a successful country contribute to the positive attributes of a brand? Do Canadian companies reflect where they live? And another question I have is whether Made in Canada is the same as Imagined in Canada ? We have increasingly become a knowledge economy but many of our inventions, inspirations and innovations are actually made in China, or Mexico, or India.
If we are to put aside the Olympic celebration and ask what Canada really stands for, what are we really selling here? On the plus side, we are an inclusive and diverse society that makes an honest effort to take compassionate care of our citizens. We are brave peacekeepers. We are well educated, creative and open-minded. We are home to many well known global brands in many different categories like Lululemon, Roots, G Adventures, Bombardier, Blackberry, Agrium and Magna. We are friendly and polite. We are active and activists.
We talk a lot about innovation, but I don’t think the world necessarily notices. But maybe, most noteworthy of all, with a population of 34 million, we are not a big country. We are not Walmart or Home Depot. We are more like a boutique with a hundred locations and we are not going to undersell anyone. Maybe that’s what we need to talk about. What is it about our Made in Canada boutique and Made in Canada logo that could excite our own Canadian companies, Canadian consumers and the rest of the world?