Monthly Archives: May 2010

Canadians And Their Social Values — Parts III and IV

I have been away from the blogosphere for a wee bit too long (for good reason and reason for which I’ll explain in my post manana, so come back!), but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t pass along the third and fourth articles discussing Canadians and their social values. This particular post is a long one, but stick with it — I promise you’ll thank me for it and there may just be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 🙂

I must do this because very rarely do you run across a series of articles that compels you to read the entire thing from A to Zee, not Zed. Sometimes, on those rare occasions when both the sun and moon are aligned with Jupiter and you’ve just found a four-leaf clover, the articles are so good that you want to write about them. Such is the case with the series about Canadians and their social values written by the obviously brilliant strategy team at MacLaren McCann (specifically Heidi McCulloch (@heidimcculloch) and Lee Chapman (whose Twitter handle I don’t know, but will find out!) in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association.

I’ve previously blogged about part one of the series that addressed Canadians’ individualism, and part two of the series which astutely canvasses the topics of tolerance and acceptance. Today, I bring you parts three and four.

The third part detailed Canadians’ quality of life and was simply fantastic. It eloquently summed up the main reason I love living in Canada so much. Sure, it’s expensive as hell, but if you like spending time with your family without feeling like you’re going to lose your job or can pursue your passion because you you know you’ll have healthcare no matter what that passion may be, then Canada’s your place.

Now, without further ado, part three of the series.

Defining Value #3
“One difference between Americans and Canadians is that Americans are still waiting to win the lottery. Canadians live as if they have already won the lottery.” Michael Adams, Fire and Ice, 2003.

20% of Canadians cite Quality of Life as top source of pride in being Canadian. (Macleans Canada Day Survey 2006). Quality of Life is one of Canadians’ key defining values.

Quality of life, simply put, refers to how good life is. People throughout the centuries, and in various parts of the world, have defined quality in their lives in rather distinct ways.

Among developed countries, certain variables are consistent in defining quality of life – life expectancy, purchasing power, literacy and education, housing, employment, finances. Against these variables, in study after study, Canada has always landed in the top ranks. For example, in the 2009 Mercer Consulting annual Quality of Living Survey among 215 cities, Vancouver ranked 4th and Toronto ranked 15th. In all of the Americas, Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary dominated the top spots.

Where does this come from?

• Canada is endowed with nature’s majesty, in lakes, mountains, fields in our backyard. Our physical closeness to nature likely inspires a more mellow approach to life and living.
• Since after the Great Depression, Canada instituted policies that would ensure that its people maintained certain standards of living – pensions, health care, protection from unemployment and other social support. Having a secure safety net gives people a certain reassurance that no matter what goes wrong, all will be well; in general, people have less to be anxious and stressed about. Unencumbered, people pursue a certain way of living that is more attuned to relationships, connections, rather than simply getting ahead in a rat race.

Points of Evidence
Macleans annual Canada Day poll offers up interesting proof points about Canadians’ distinct version of quality of life.

For Canadians, there is more to life than work: Canadians place A REWARDING CAREER behind Freedom; Family Life; Being Loved and Being Canadian on their list of things that they value the most. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Asked which activities they enjoy most, Canadians cite: A nice meal with my partner; Having a few hours for myself. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Canadians believe that Experiences, not Things, make one happy. When asked, what is the best thing that happened to you in the past year, milestones such as weddings, births, pregnancies, vacations, graduations rose to the top of the lists. Moving into a new house or getting a new car sat at the bottom of the list of best things. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)
Canadians don’t care for keeping up with the Joneses. 29% of Canadians say it’s important that people admire the things they own, compared with 36% of Americans. (Fire and Ice, Michael Adams)

Marketing Reference
Lululemon

The brand believes in keeping healthy, exercising, and drinking eight glasses of water a day. They’re not just getting people to buy their clothes, but to embrace the lifestyle they promote. And that lifestyle, outlined in their manifesto, includes beliefs like, “Friends are more important than money.” Their mission: Lululemon athletic creates components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives. If we can produce products to keep people active and stress-free, we believe the world will become a much better place. Lululemon has successfully tapped into a Canadians’ unique view of what a good life looks like.

Molsons’ Made From Canada
The Made From Canada spot pays homage to Canadas’s natural beauty, and the uniquely Canadian impulse to enjoy it as much as we can. Copy: Fact is, its this land that shapes us. We know we have the best backyard in the world and we get out there every chance we get.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

And finally, article four, which tackles why Canada is just so peaceful (Hi, how about the “no guns allowed” rule? ;-)).

This post signals an end to our series on Dominant Canadian Social Values. We’ve outlined 4 Canadian Values: a unique balance between individualism and collectivism; an attitude of tolerance and acceptance; a heightened appreciation for a quality of life; and finally, an essentially peaceful predisposition.

We hope these guideposts will help you when crafting communications that can relevantly connect with and engage Canadians.

Defining Value #4
Borne of a legacy of cooperation and compromise, Canadians are essentially a peaceful people living in a peaceful place. An underlying sense of comfort and security manifests in our ideology with regards to peacekeeping and also is reflected in our business dealings. Further, it may be what allows us to attend to what we refer to as ‘higher level values’.

Points of Evidence
Canada truly and factually is a safer place to live. The murder rate in Canada is 1.85: 100,000 people, as compared to the U.S. at 5.6:100,000. The U.S. incarceration rate is approximately 6 times higher than in Canada; in fact, Canada’s murder rate has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 1975.

And perceptually Canadians feel safer as a people. Canadians afraid to walk at night is down almost 5% since 1975 and Canadians are more worried about Bullying than Terrorism.(MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2006)

How this Manifests
On Peacekeeping
: When Canadians are asked about the traditional role of the Canadian military, they speak with pride about Canadian participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Over the years, more than 125,000 Canadian military personnel have served on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations – more than any other country. (cbcnews.ca, Canada: The World’s Peacekeeper)

In Business: Our peacefulness extends to our engagement style regarding business dealings. The 2008 Bribe Payer’s Index, prepared by the global civil society organization Transparency International, ranks Canada at No. 1, tied with Belgium—meaning our companies are the least likely in the world to engage in payoffs. Only four per cent of Canadian business people have ever bribed high-ranking politicians or political parties, according to the survey, well below the international average of 13 per cent. (MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2009)

On ‘Higher-Level Values’: Canadians embrace social responsibility. Almost 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) pay attention to issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility; 52% have consciously refused to buy a product or a service from a company not conducting business in a socially responsible way. And Canadians see the global environmental issue as second only to healthcare as a pressing issue facing the country (note that this ranking has bounced about a little with economy factoring in of late). (Social Responsibility in Canada, Ipsos Reid 2003 and 2006)

A Marketing Reference
Need we look any further than the spiritually-based success story that is Lululemon?

But in the interest of not repeating ourselves, let’s reference Marc Thuet’s restaurant in Toronto instead – Conviction Restaurant. Conviction Restaurant offers recently rehabilitated ex-convicts a chance to turn their lives around by helping give patrons “the most unforgettable eating experience of their lives”. As testament to the success of the concept, planning for a second Conviction location in British Columbia is currently underway.

Thanks again for your valuable time and attention!

Heidi McCulloch, V.P., Senior Strategic Planner, MacLaren McCann

So there you have it. Four defining reasons that makes Canada, and Canadians, great. Longtime ATGAIC readers already know that I love Canada, but just to set the record straight, I don’t in any way hate the States; on the contrary. Rather, it’s more like trying to fit into your favourite high school sweater; even though it might not fit quite right anymore, you’ll always have a certain fondness for it and you have to buy something new. Who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to live in both of “my” countries, by which I mean if you are a Canadian sugar daddy looking for a cute American girl, you know where to find me. 🙂

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My Own 50 Reasons To Love Toronto

Just when I thought I couldn’t love a city any more, Toronto Life magazine goes and publishes an issue — and a video! — with 50 reasons to love Toronto.

You all know that I could easily come up with about one bazillion and one reasons to love Toronto, but in the spirit of the article, I’ve decided to list my own 50 reasons to love this fan-freaking-tastic city! And these are just the ones I came up with on the fly! I guess that’s not so hard when you’re in love.

1. When the sun shines and lights Lake Ontario up as blue as a sapphire
2. The cuisine. Enough said.
3. Art Gallery of Ontario
4. Nuit Blanche
5. The awesome Metro food writer, Stephanie Dickison
6. Independent bookstores that are still in business
7. A festival for every neighbourhood and ethnic group in the city every single weekend during the summer
8. That people call me back when they say they will
9. The Toronto Reference Library
10. Allan Gardens
11. How serious its people are about recycling. A PhD is required to figure it all out. Thank god I live in a building. 😉
12. Toronto Cat Rescue*
13. Wychwood Art Barns
14. The Distillery District
15. That I can count on one hand the number of times someone’s been rude to me here
16. How people generally do not care about your race. Seriously, America — get the eff over it
17. The 401, better known locally as the Highway of Heroes
18. Mother’s Dumplings
19. The astonishing number of museums: art, sugar, shoe, police, and of course, hockey
20. Toronto Botanical Garden
21. Honest Ed’s
22. The sheer number of cupcake shoppes
23. Beaches, parks, hiking trails, and ski runs within a two hour drive
24. The weather, by which I mean no humidity
25. The St. Lawrence Market
26. Luminato
27. Toronto International Film Festival
28. Canada Reads
29. CBC headquarters
30. Second City
31. Frank Gehry
32. Volleyball on Sunday at Ashbridges Bay
33. Brunch. That is all.
34. The Mies van der Rohe-designed TD Canada Towers
35. Doors Open Toronto
36. The Junior League of Toronto
37. DJ skating parties in winter at Harbourfront
38. That gay people can get married here
39. Winterlicious/Summerlicious
40. The Drake Hotel
41. Trinity Bellwoods Park on the first “warm” day of Spring
42. The DVP when the trees are changing
43. Downtown coming into view when I drive south on the DVP every single day. Not a day goes by that I don’t smile when I see it.
44. The lookout from the Don Valley Brick Works
45. Watching the brightly coloured kayaks bob and float in Lake Ontario
46. How quickly the city clears the roads when it snows
47. Massey Hall
48. Double-decker tour buses in the summer
49. Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t won the Stanley Cup in 40+ years, 99% of people here are still die-hard fans
50. As much as they hate it, how damn nice Torontonians are, especially my amazing friends

I don’t know what Toronto Life’s 50 reasons are, but I can’t wait to find out!

P.S. I’ll link out tomorrow — I’m too tired right now. Must. Go. To. Bed.

* From whom I adopted my adorable cat, Abby

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Canadians And Their Social Values, Part Deux

Back in April, I blogged about a series of articles written by MacLaren McCann via the Canadian Marketing Association around Canadians and their social values. I found the first part, which addressed the specifics of these social values, absolutely fascinating!

When I saw that the second part had been published, I got all giddy and couldn’t wait to get home and blog about it! You’re welcome. 🙂 The second part of the series addresses the attitudes of acceptance and tolerance that are the hallmarks of this great nation, such as the fact that, by 2017, one in two people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities. Long time TIC.com readers will know that I absolutely agree with these attitudes and, once again, is one of the zillions of reasons why I so love Canada.

Another reason is that I don’t think these minorities have necessarily been here for generations, as in the U.S., either. Rather, because Canadian immigrants are so new to the western world, the businesses, communities, and families are authentically real. When I eat at a family-owned Vietnamese restaurant, I know that the food they’re serving is probably very similar to how it’s done in Hanoi, for example. My favourite Thai restaurant is owned by a husband and wife who only moved here from northern Thailand six years ago. Authentic, indeed.

That’s not to say that every single “native” Canadian is as welcoming as they’d like to believe; of course that’s not the case. Take a gander for yourself, though. Do these Canadian hallmarks sound different than American attitudes about attitude, tolerance, and immigration?

Canadian Social Values:

Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture

Defining Value #2
We Canadians value an attitude of acceptance and tolerance. Over the course of our history, Canadians have embraced a liberal, open attitude, extending goodwill and acceptance to others who might be different.

Because of this pervading attitude of acceptance and tolerance, Canada is not just multi-cultural, but multi-everything. Note the diversity of beliefs, lifestyles, opinions, worldviews. Some would go so far as to say that this diversity is our greatest strength. (Macleans Canada Day Poll Report, 2006)

Diversity and pluralism are celebrated in Canada. Multiculturalism, in particular, has been noted as one of the most distinctive features of our society. More Canadians cite multiculturalism as central to the national identity – more than bilingualism or hockey. Canada’s top source of national pride is Multiculturalism, second only to Democracy. (Michael Adams, Unlikely Utopia, 2007)

Adams asserts further: “Canadians aren’t unique in living in a diverse society. Rather, Canadians are distinctive in the way that they have incorporated Canada’s policy of accommodating diversity into their sense of national identity.”

(I tend to disagree with the first part of the statement – that Canadians aren’t unique in living a diverse society. Canadian diversity IS unique and more intense. Take the United States: First nations and British colonial roots, but no French. Same goes for Australia. Canada counts among its peoples a first nations group, not one but two colonial forebears, and substantial waves of immigration from all over in recent years.)

The rest of his statement, however, rings true. Canadians have imbibed a strong attitude of acceptance and tolerance, so much that it defines and binds us as a nation.

Where does this come from?

How did we get here?

History: Canada was never a unitary entity. Canadians have never been one people in one place; we’ve always been a diverse people – Aboriginals, colonial British, colonial French, European immigrants – spread across a vast territory.

Our religion – or lack of it?

Religion, by its very nature, prescribes a certain code of conduct and belief. One’s religion helps a person make sense of the world, and pass judgment on what’s acceptable or not.
Canada is a secular nation. Compared to the United States, there are twice as many Canadians who say they have no religious affiliation. Church attendance has been on a steady decline, with almost 2 in 5 Canadians saying they never/almost never attend church. With less religiosity, Canadians are less likely to adhere to hard-and-fast, black-and-white judgments on right or wrong. This, in turn, makes for a more laissez-faire stance towards difference in beliefs/lifestyles.

Points of Evidence
Canadians are a tolerant and accepting people, who value and celebrate diversity. Festivals such as Caribana, Taste of the Danforth, Pride are the most obvious (and colourful) expressions of such.

Other data points support this value:
• By 2017, 1 in 2 people in Toronto and Vancouver will be visible minorities.
• 57% of Canadians live side-by-side within the five largest cities. Canadians – of whatever colour or stripe – are able to live amicably in close proximity to one another. Contrast this with other modes of settlement where people who are “different” confine themselves to either ghettoes or gated enclaves.
• 78% of Canadians believe immigration is good for the country (vs 64% of Americans).
• Canada was the fourth country in the world and the first country in the Americas to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide

A Marketing Reference
In one of the most iconic pieces of Canadian advertising, The Rant aka I Am Canadian from Molson’s, “Joe” actually lays out the policy, and the pervading belief of Canadians – I believe in diversity, not assimilation. [Ed. note: this is a fantastic commercial and one I blogged about long ago!]

During the Olympics, Tim Horton’s aired a spot that drew directly from the immigrant narrative – the first things that newcomers to Canada experience are the cold, and Tim Hortons. The spot rose to the top as both “Most Memorable” and “Best Ad.” (Marketing Magazine, April 19, 2010)

Of late, Virgin and LCBO tipped their hat to the LGBT communities in their ads targeted to their mainstream audience, signaling that sexual orientation is a non-issue for these brands.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

Photo credit: www.slapupsidethehead.com

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Copious Amounts of Sugar: CupcakeCamp Toronto

Cupcakes: those yummy, tiny little personal-sized cakes that are, without a doubt, the most popular sweet in the world. How do I know this? I know this because there are no fewer than 16 cupcakes shops in downtown Toronto alone (and those are just the ones I know about). I also know this because of an event I attended today; an event that was all about cupcakes, sold all 150 tickets, and had more than 40 volunteer bakers. The event? CupcakeCampToronto!

Born in San Francisco, the second annual CupcakeCamp Toronto was held today at a way cool space called 52 McCaul. The gallery was amazing — open, bright, and full of wicked original street and contemporary art. While the space was fantastic, the word “fantastic” doesn’t even begin to describe the cupcakes. For a mere $10 donation, part of which went to the Daily Bread Food Bank, more than 2,200 cupcakes were brought by bakers from across southern Ontario. The cupcakes were in every imaginable shape and size. There were mini cupcakes, regular-sized cupcakes, cupcakes in chocolate “glasses”, cupcakes in flower pots, and every conceivable flavour: half baked (part cookie dough, part cupcake), blue curacao, strawberry daiquiri, “cheeseburger”, lemon curd, monks tea*, s’mores, blood orange with olive oil, and about 30 other delicious flavours. There were even cupcakes with bacon and Spam** sprinkled on top! Starbucks donated coffee, and bottles of water — an absolute requirement — were only $1 (proceeds which also went to the DBFB).

My personal favourites were the lemon rhubarb red velvet and orange dreamsicle cupcakes. I reeeally wanted to try the s’mores cupcake, but by the time they came around in group nine of eleven (!), I may or may not have hit the proverbial wall and gone into the proverbial sugar coma. Seriously — I never thought I’d see a day where I’d eat too much sugar, but today was that day. I started to feel weird, left early and, by the time I got home, my head was pounding. I was on a serious sugar high! I just wish there had been doggie bags because, even though I practically OD’d on sugar this afternoon, a key lime cupcake sure does sound good right about now!

Check out my Flickr set from CupcakeCamp Toronto here.

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