Please pay close attention. This is kind of complicated. And irritating. A Toronto-based international design firm has taken on an assignment from WNYC Studio 360 in New York to (are you ready?) redesign Canada. Bruce Mau Design created the campaign to change the country’s image by teaching Americans to know Canada better, without benefit of beavers, hockey, Mounties or maple syrup. The creative team was exclusively American.
The two-bar red logo – yes it’s for the Canadian flag – is on T-shirts, bumper stickers, even a prospective passport stamp. The art of the Know Canada campaign is, well, to put it politely, trite. A video of accomplishments featuring Pamela Anderson in the Wonder Bra? Peanut butter is the best we can do for a billboard in Times Square?
Famous Canadians such as Justin Bieber and Margaret Atwood are framed between the red bars of the logo in posters and a TV spot. Kind of like those (yawn) Heritage Minutes on the CBC (yawn).
The concept campaign is being pushed hard by Studio 360, a production of Public Radio International and WNYC, known for inviting designers in for irreverent redesigns of everything from Monopoly to the gay flag. The idea is to take an outmoded identity – like Canada’s – and have experts tweak it into something more appealing. Parts of the campaign are fun, including some of the back-at-ya work from the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi. He’s taken on a rebranding America campaign in collaboration with WNYC.
Know Canada isn’t really objectionable. It’s generating debate, and that’s good. But it’s mostly about broadcast ratings, and being hip and cheeky, not really about teaching Americans. Maybe we should keep our own counsel and forget about changing anyone’s mind. Me, I still think the now ancient I Am Canadian campaign was the best identity branding ever done. And it wasn’t even aimed at the Yanks.
- Canada redesigned: U.S. public radio program rebrands the Great White North (news.nationalpost.com)