Brand Canada: so what is a “Canadian”? 10 quirky facts.

Some odd insights from Ipsos Reid’s Darrell Bricker

I’m excited about an event coming to Ottawa ‘s Chateau Laurier next month: the IABC 2012 Canada Business Communicators Summit. But even better: Beg to Differ has one free pass to give away (more about that below). But since I think, thumb speak, sildenafil and write a lot about Brand Canada, it’s the opening keynote by Dr. Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs and author of Canuckology that has me thinking.

Grab from promotional video by HarperCollins Canada (see full video below).

Disclosure: the author isn’t paid to promote this conference, but is helping out a friend, and is gratefully accepting a free pass himself in return.

A conference strong – and free (*if you win the pass)

So here’s how the IABC Summit’s agenda for day one describes Bricker’s Opening Keynote:

The Big Shift” – Understanding Communications in the New Canada.

The presentation will explore the profound changes that are happening in Canada today. What do Canadians look like? What do they value? Who do they trust? Understanding these factors is essential to being a successful communicator in the New Canada.

Indeed. We communicators need to know our audience. But as Canadians communicating to Canadians, that actually means we need to know and understand ourselves – our own brand and how it relates to Brand Canada. And that is bloody hard – whether you are a backpacker in Europe, a business, or the Dalai Lama. We all have our blinkers on.

So what is a Canadian?

We’ll get to the Bricker’s mind-bending insights in a moment, but I want to hear from you:

  • What is this thing we call a “Canadian”?
  • What does being Canadian mean – and can we measure Canadian-ness?
  • How does that effect how we communicate with Canadians?

And in return for sharing, you could get a free pass to that conference.

Special offer from Beg to Differ
(Generously provided by organizers of the IABC Summit)
What you get:
Free One-day conference pass valued at $675 for either November 2nd or 3rd (your choice).
How to enter:
Two ways: 1) Answer the questions above in the comments; OR 2) Share this post on Twitter with the hashtag #CdnIABC12. I’ll draw a winner at random on Monday morning.

Ten surprising facts about Canadians

So without further ado: some shocking stats about Canadians taken from Bricker’s book and this  interview – originally from the Globe and Mail.

  1. The average Canadian spends 7.7 minutes in the shower.
  2. 750,000 Canadians believe the country borders the “Antarctic Ocean”
  3. Only 27% of Canadians know what happened in 1867. (Hint: you’re soaking in it)
  4. The majority of Canadians believe in angels, but in Saskatchewan and Manitoba it’s 77 per cent.
  5. Canadians would rather have the superhero power to heal themselves than travel in time.
  6. Almost one in three Canadians admits they let “laundry pile up until they run out of underwear”.
  7. 58 per cent of Canadian women feel most romantic with the sound of waves nearby.
  8. When asked to compare their partner to an animal, Canadian women were less likely to choose gorilla, tiger, or stallion (Oh my!). The most popular answer? “Cuddly bear.”
  9. The most popular answer from Canadian men to the same question: “don’t know.”
  10. Only 40% of Canadians trust polls…
Many of these facts in video form:

Books by Darrell Bricker

Disclosure: by buying through these Amazon Affiliate links, you’ll be supporting Beg to Differ.


18 thoughts on “Brand Canada: so what is a “Canadian”? 10 quirky facts.”

  1. Hi Dennis: I’m frothing for that free pass … so here’s my answer to the questions!
    1: A Canadian is a person who is born in Canada or immigrates to Canada and proudly wears red and white boxer shorts.
    2. You can measure Canadian-ess precisely by following a person around for a 30-day period and counting how many times they absentmindedly say “sorry” when someone else bumps into them.
    3. This affects how we communicate with other Canadians because we are constantly apologizing for our poor taste in underwear.

    1. @coffeewithjulie I disagree. A Canadian wouldn’t wear red and white boxer shorts proudly – or exclusively. They would politely alternate between British shorts (with the Queen’s smiling face on them), Quebec shorts (with strategically placed fleur-de-lis, provincial shorts (many of which still look oddly like British shorts), shorts for whatever ethnic or religious heritages they come from, and occasionally on days when they aren’t paying attention, American shorts (like when they’re cheering along one of the candidates in a US Presidential debate).

      1. @DenVan  @coffeewithjulie Unless they prefer briefs, in which case all this is moot;  or if it’s winter…in which case they are wearing long johns.

        1. @DenVan  @4L3x 4nd3r5on  @coffeewithjulie True enough! Clearly real Canadians wear long johns year round. Except for Jan 1 when we do the Polar Bear Dip. 😀

    1. @coffeewithjulie That is awesome. But sucking up with multiple comments and channels will do you no good. Just one entry per customer. So there! But looking at the incredible volume of responses so far? I’d say your chances are looking pretty good.

      1. @DenVan ha! bad habit I guess … most contests will say “one entry if you tweet” and “one entry if you like my facebook” and blah, blah, blah …

  2. I’ve already bought my ticket, so I’ll give everyone else the chance to win.  (PS  I’m one of the one in three)

  3. OK, I can’t win but I’d like to answer these questions:
    1) A Canadian is someone proud of their Canadian Programming despite being shackled by the CRTC and proudly settles in with their poutine in hand in their comfy chesterfield.
    2) Canadians are nice… but we’re not pushovers. We are likeable people and we are modest. You can’t really stand out in a crowd when you’re Canadian because we’re not “sore thumbs”. We put others ahead of ourselves. I think sometimes it’s a blessing and a curse. Is there a “nice” meter somewhere? We’d overindex on it.
    3) We definitely have to be more aggressive and outspoken. I’ve seen pockets of these in social discussions where a lot of us have very strong opinions. If collectively we voiced our opinions a lot more, then the world would see our value.

  4. What is this thing we call a “Canadian”?hockey player
    What does being Canadian mean – and can we measure Canadian-ness?playing hockey and speed of skating.
    How does that effect how we communicate with Canadians?awesome over beers after the game

  5. The only honest answer one can give to the question of what a Canadian is is one who has Canadian citizenship. 
    There’s the old linguistic duality between English and French Canada that makes an inclusive definition difficult.  And even within those two solitudes there are regional differences.  Atlantic Canada isn’t quite the same as the rest of English Canada, for example, and  Newfoundland isn’t quite the same as the rest of Atlantic Canada, etc.  French Canada isn’t synonymous with Quebec (nor is English Canada synonymous with not-Quebec), though it often comes across that way, and I’m sure you will find that other parts of French Canada are different from French Quebec. 
    Multiculturalism?  True for our big cities, but harder to argue for once you leave bigger cities/metropolitan areas.  Multiculturalism itself even seems to say that there is no such thing as “Canadian” beyond citizenship.
    Hockey is a common thread throughout the country, French, English, East, West,, but not many of us actually play it.  Dedicated fans don’t even make up 50% of the population when the Winter Olympics aren’t on.  And in those large multicultural centres, you will find people from many different cultures who question derisively why hockey is so popular here.
    We do like our publicly funded health care, but when’s the last time you rang up a friend and said “Hey, wanna go hang out at the hospital?”  Maybe if you work close to a hospital and their cafeteria is closer than any other restaurant.  That’s not really about health care, though, is it?
    Tim Hortons?  Starbucks is more popular in some places.
    There are certain things that Canadians are more likely to do (like eat grilled cheese), and so we might say “Grilled cheese is Canadian”.  But then there is someone who is Canadian but doesn’t really dig grilled cheese they will say “I am Canadian but don’t really dig grilled cheese”.  In response, we’ll say “Okay, so I guess grilled cheese is not Canadian then,” because we’re polite and not very assertive and don’t want to exclude or offend anyone.
    I think it’s also very Canadian to debate over what it means to be Canadian and never really know.  But then, some people wish we would just shut up with the “What does it mean to be Canadian?” stuff.  So I guess that’s not Canadian either.
    [Note: you don’t need to enter me into the draw]

  6. I may have a different perspective, being that I’m an outsider from the good ol’ USofA. 
    What is this thing we call a “Canadian”?
    I think Canadians are caring, compassionate people who believe in tolerance, acceptance and community, among many other really good things. Canadians (or those I know in Ottawa) like to make jokes about French class in school that go right over my head since I took Spanish. Canadians have a great deal of pride in being Canadian and having unique and inexplicably loved foods like poutine in their repertoire. They also like to talk about what “being Canadian” really means.
    What does being Canadian mean – and can we measure Canadian-ness?
    ^^^ See? ^^^
    Being truly Canadian means a respect (if not love) of the heritage of the country. Supporting decisions that uphold the heritage, even if they don’t necessarily benefit you personally. I often measure Canadian-ness by the way someone reacts to adversarial situations – do they stay calm and congenial but hold their ground? Or do they become belligerent? Canadians care more about maintaining peace and good relations than about beating an opponent.
    How does that effect how we communicate with Canadians?
    These ideas and ideals carry over into communication for the most part, with the most notable exception being politics. Canadian politics at any level can get so nasty!

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