If you’re Canadian and planning to watch the Superbowl this weekend, you may be disappointed to hear that you won’t be able to watch American ads during the sports broadcast. This comes after a renegotiated trade deal with the U.S. and Mexico. In this new deal, Canada agreed to end a CRTC policy that banned broadcasters from replacing American ads with Canadian ones, known as simultaneous substitution.
The practice of “simsub” has only been banned since 2016 after relentless viewer complaints. But the ban wasn’t great for Canadian broadcasters as it shifted viewership to American stations during the game.
While we’re certainly going to miss the American ads, this is a good opportunity for Canadian brands, agencies and production companies alike to get their content seen and celebrated. And there’s plenty of great Canadian ads out there already. Funny, controversial and heartfelt. Here are five amazing Canadian ads that prove that we don’t need to rely on our Southern neighbours to deliver great content.
1. Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism - Conductor
We love this ad for a number of reasons but what really stands out is its use of sound design. From whistling kettles to squawking gulls, it captures all the everyday sound of the maritime province. There is no voice over or on-screen text until the very end of the ad, but if you were to close your eyes and just listen, a vivid story would be painted in your head.
This is not the only Newfoundland and Labrador ad that gives you goosebumps. They have long been known for their cinematic and visceral ad campaigns. We’re excited to see what they have cooking up this year.
2. Boneshaker – Endless Slogans
One thing you’d be seeing a lot of during the Superbowl are beer commercials. Canadian beer brand Boneshaker points out the ridiculousness of the industry’s advertising. In their ad “Endless Slogans” , the brand fits in as many cheesy slogans as it can in one minute. These range from “Boneshaker: Unfiltered, just like you.” To “Boneshaker: No hip, lots of hop”.
The ad is perfectly in-line with the beer brands identity. It’s an unapologetically bitter beer, so much so that their logo is a skeleton riding a bike.
3. PFLAG Canada – Nobody’s Memories
This next spot really pulls on the heartstrings. It features retro looking footage of same sex couples tying the knot with a touching voice over that begins with “These are nobody’s memories”. Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays is a national organization offering support to the LGBTQ+ community. This PSA is intended to encourage people to ban together to help legalize same sex marriage around the world. At the time of the campaign, 18 countries worldwide had legalized same-sex marriage, including Canada.
4. Sick Kids VS – Join Your Crew
This ad could easily be mistaken for a Marvel movie trailer. It is moody, dramatic and straight up badass. This ad is apart of a years long campaign called “SickKids VS” which honours the people of the children’s hospital. The first round of ads were focused on the patients, their families and the staff. The following year focused on building a new hospital. This year, it’s all about the Sick Kids donors. The goal of the 2018 campaign was to encourage people to “join their crew” and pool resources to help build the new hospital. It works because people love to see themselves represented. The ad calls out “The Ballers”, “The Fashionistas”, “The Dog Lovers” and more.
The ad also features a number of recognizable Canadian faces including Colm Foere, Cheryl Hickey, and Kyle Dubas.
5. Molson Canadian – Global Beer Fridge
Since its launch in 1994, Molson Canadian’s “I Am Canadian” slogan has lived on as one of the most iconic Canadian advertising campaigns of all time. The campaign eventually shifted gears and the slogan was abandoned for nearly 10 years until it was relaunched in 2013 with the “Beer Fridge” campaign. The 2015 spot, “Global Beer Fridge” took the slogan to the next level, asking “What makes someone Canadian”?
To find out, Molson set up a beer fridge in downtown Toronto that could only be unlocked by people saying “I Am Canadian”. The catch? The phrase needed to be said in six different languages. One by one, passerbys contribute the phrase in their language and the fridge unlocks, met with cheering and laughter.
The message of this campaign is that our diversity is what makes us Canadian and we wouldn’t be the country we are without it.
Have you seen a really great Canadian commercial that we didn’t mention? Let us know your favourites in the comments below.