Category Archives: Canada

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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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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Canadians And Their Social Values

I have an ongoing dialogue with a few of my close Canadian friends about the distinct differences between Americans and Canadians. We may be neighbours, but in reality we’re very different. For me, the conversations I have with this group of smart, open, but opinionated friends is extremely healthy, and has been a huge part of my Canadian learning experience.

One of these said friends sent me an article from the Canadian Marketing Association in partnership with MacLaren McCann that details four dominant themes that are unique to Canada called Canadian Social Values: Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture (just like the article title says. Ahem.). The article is the first in a series addressing the four key defining defining values in Canadians, and I found it to be spot on. I highly identify with the social values referenced in the article, which is probably why I’m so deliriously happy in Canada (and why so many Americans who don’t identify with those values so unhappy here).

Of course, you could argue that the points are so broad that anyone might identify with them, but I believe that, after living here for three years, these are more uniquely Canadian attributes than they are anything else. And, while the author makes the inevitable* comparisons to the US, I think the article does a fantastic job of discussing just what makes Canadians so, well, Canadian.

Canadian Social Values: Dominant Themes in Canadian Culture

Defining Value #1
We Canadians value a unique balance between individual autonomy and collective responsibility. It is a very special attitude we uphold as Canadians, in that we believe in having the ability to self-determine the way we want to live, but importantly, we also expect and even defend the right for others to have that same privilege. So while one may choose differently from another, Canadians generally believe in each person’s right to make their unique personal choice. Said simply: Canadians respect difference.

Where does this come from?
Canada is a nation founded ultimately through cooperation, with a history of accommodation, and this is reflected in the founding principles of ‘peace, order and good government’ (outlined in more detail by Michael Adams in his book Fire and Ice). Through these historical roots, the wants and needs of various diverse Canadian groups were acknowledged and accommodated to create a workable collective.

Additionally and importantly, the Canadian ‘system’ is built with an emphasis on the provision of social support services. Canada features a public education system, a public health-care system, a public welfare system and with that, a corresponding tax system to fund it. This system functionally places responsibility on the community to be supportive of its residents.

And thus Canada has bred an orientation to life amongst its residents that believes the collective has a responsibility to the individual, and concurrently, the individual has a responsibility to the collective.

Points of Evidence
Respecting Difference:

– More than two thirds of Canadians say they relate to non-conformists, compared to just half of Americans (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice);
– 60% of Canadians approve of homosexual relations, where only 38% of Americans feel the same way. “We’re one of the world leaders there.” In fact, in 2005, Canada become the fourth country in the world to legalize gay marriage (Reginald Bibby in 2006 Maclean’s Canada Day Poll and 2009 Maclean’s Canada Day Poll).

And the Collective:
– A third of Canadians want a more active government (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice);
– And more Canadians feel a sense of social responsibility than Americans (Michael Adams, Fire and Ice).

A Marketing Reference
Speaking of ‘respecting difference’, recall as far back as 1995, when RuPaul was signed to a modeling contract for Canadian company, MAC cosmetics, making him the first drag queen supermodel?

Watch for the next post, Canadian Defining Social Value #2: Attitudes of Tolerance and Acceptance. We continue to look forward to hearing your comments and reactions.

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

So, what do you think? If you’re American, do you identify with any of these definitions? Do you think they’re applicable to us, too? If you’re Canadian, do you think they’re true of Canada?

* Inevitable because there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t hear someone here comparing something with the U.S.

Photo credit: ridgeglobal.com

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It’s A Girl!

I was never a fan of cats. I’ve always been a canine girl. I grew up with a Cocker Spaniel named Buffy, who I literally carried around wherever we went, and, later, a black Miniature Schnauzer named Heidi who was smart and seriously precious. Once I grew up, I wanted to get my own dog, but I never got around to it, mostly because I’m lazy I travel a lot and didn’t think it would be fair to my dog to be alone.

When I moved to dog-crazed Toronto, I started getting the dog itch again, mostly because of the hot guys at the dog parks I didn’t have any family here and was craving some unconditional love. I know myself well enough, though, to know that in the midst of six months of subzero temperatures, I’m not going to get up out of my warm, cozy bed to, not only walk a dog in the snow, but pick up its poop in the snow. As if.

I knew several people with cats and started thinking about getting a cat as an “unconditional love” alternative. But since I didn’t know a thing about them, I decided to go with the “try before you buy” mantra and foster a cat rather than adopt one right away.

I contacted Toronto Cat Rescue and, after a couple of false starts, finally found a foster baby that didn’t need medical attention*; in March, an adorable, six year-old female Tabby came to live with me! Her name was Agatha, but the only Agatha’s I know are old, warty, and witchy, so I decided to call her Abby**. To say the first night was rough would be an understatement. She moved in with me on a Wednesday night and because I’m sure she was completely anxious and nervous, she meowed literally all night long. I may have slept two hours (note to self: don’t start fostering a cat on a school night). There were some litter box and some sofa-marking issues the first week, but with the help of my new best friend aluminum foil, she eventually settled in. In fact, I’ve had her for exactly one month and she now sleeps on my extra pillow every night, which I think means she likes me. 🙂

I’m technically only fostering Abby, but I’d pretty much fallen in love with her after day three. When she cuddles up to me and purrs, my heart literally melts. It totally calms me and even when she gets annoyed that I practically lay on top of her, she still lets me get my purring fix. I bought Abby a $24 bed that she wouldn’t go near, but when I brought home a free box top from work, I couldn’t get her out of it. She loves playing with her crinkle ball and mouse, string on a stick, and pink catnip mouse, and when I can’t find her, she’s usually chillin’ in my soaker tub.^ The final sign that I’ve officially become a crazy cat lady, though? I started a Twitter feed for my cat. What can I say? She’s a true bird lover, after all. 😉 Check out Abby’s fierce tweeting skills at twitter.com/abbysmeow.

Clearly my poor foster cat is having to make up for the fact that I currently have no sugar daddy. Ahem. 😉

* Every cat they called me for required shot or medicine-giving. Being a first time cat parent, I was just not prepared to give some cat shots in his gums.
** Okay, I didn’t totally take away her identity, so don’t freak out. Her original family called her Tabby, so I figured Abby wasn’t too far off. What?

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Toronto The Good. No, Really.

I was parked in a parking lot one day last week and grabbing some stuff from the backseat of my car, when another car pulled up next to me. The driver rolled down her window and asked if I knew where the new Winners* was located. I didn’t, but I’d seen a billboard in the area saying that Winners had, in fact, moved. All I could remember was that it said the store was now located on Laird Drive…the same street we were on. I said to the lady “oh yes, I saw a sign that they moved somewhere on Laird, but I haven’t seen anything around”. We laughed about it, she drove off, and I went inside the store.

I was standing in line at the PetSmart counter to return my items** when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the lady who had just stopped me in the parking lot — and she was walking straight towards me. I thought to myself “surely she came back in to pick up some dog food, or some cat litter, or to shoot me or something”, but, alas, no. She marched right up to me and said “I wanted to let you know that I found the Winners; it’s at Laird and blah blah blah***. Then she turned around and walked right out the store!

I stood there in shock. I think my mouth actually dropped open a tiny bit. I actually don’t remember where she said the store was because I couldn’t believe what had actually just happened! Had this woman really driven off, found Winners, turned around, parked her  car, gone inside Petsmart, and found me just to tell me where Winners was?! I mean, who does that?! I’ll tell you who — Torontonians the Good, that’s who.

 
 
 
 

* For my American readers, Winners is the Marshalls of Canada
** I bought my foster cat a super soft, super fluffy $24 cat bed that she literally never touched. Tonight, I brought home a box top — you know, the kind that pops off of a paper box — that was FREE, incidentally, and she won’t get out of it. Go figure.  Anyway, I was returning the cat bed to PetSmart which is where the incident occurred.
*** Like I said, I couldn’t get to the new Winners if I wanted to because I didn’t hear anything the woman said. Either that or I’m finally losing my hearing. ;-)

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The Funny

Over the weekend, I googled a cat question that was something to the effect of “why do cats flick their tails” (yeah, I got a cat. I might get around to blogging about it before 2012 when the world ends. Anyway.). When I keyed in the word “why”, the first thing that came up was “Why can’t I own a Canadian?”. After I pulled myself up off the floor from laughing hysterically, I thought to myself “you know, why can’t I own a Canadian”? Is it against the law? Can an American not own foreign property? Do you have to say “zed” before they’ll allow you to own a Canadian? 😉 The answer to this question confounds me. Not to mention that, technically, I already own a Canadian. A feline Canadian, but a Canadian nonetheless.

There were some other great questions that came up, such as the third one: “why are Canadians afraid of the dark”, and, of course my personal favourite: “why is my poop green?”. Keep in mind that these are *actual* questions people asked the interwebs. Wow.

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The Mayor of Mount Sinai

I never really thought of myself as being Mayor material, but apparently I was wrong. I’ve been spending so much time at Mount Sinai Hospital of late that I have officially been named its Mayor by FourSquare^!

For those of you who like to roll old school and who shirk all things social media, think of FourSquare as a location-based Twitter. You “check in” when you arrive somewhere, your friends are notified of where you are, or, to which of your friends you’re in closest proximity, and when you accumulate the highest number of visits, you become the “Mayor”. At some places, there are perks to becoming Mayor, like getting a free coffee or 10% off your bill. Because I ‘ve only been named Mayor at a few places, none of which offer these lovely perks, I haven’t yet realized any of these niceties! Also, because of the fact that Canada has universal healthcare, my Mount Sinai visits are free and, therefore, do not come with any perks other than getting well again. Ahem. There are about one billion other places I can think of for which I’d rather be Mayor and can assure you Mount Sinai isn’t one of them. Although, I had a CT Scan there this week and I thought I looked pretty cute in the blue dressing gowns. Formless cotton may just be my thing after all*. 😉
 
 
 
 
 
^I really prefer Gowalla, though — the UI is way better and, even though I don’t get to be Mayor, I have both a metal robot and firecrackers in my backpack, which we all know is way better than being Mayor. 😉
* Not!

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