O Canada, Our Home and Branded Land

It’s amazing what you get used to when living in a foreign country. I’m back in Toronto right now for a extended visit and working in my company’s offices over here. It’s been great to get a look into the Canadian media scene and see what another market is like.

Walking through the streets of downtown Toronto, I’ve been overwhelmed by the amount of advertising. It’s blantant, full-on and seems to be very effective – Canadians are very brand-savvy and very aware of current advertising campaigns. Digital outdoor is big here and Canadian advertisers are taking full advantage. Yonge and Dundas Square, smack dab in the middle of downtown Toronto, has been redone to resemble a very tacky Times Square and it’s not pretty. It’s like being punched in the face by brands.


Having left the UK when the product placement debate was in full swing, I’ve been amazed at the blatantness of product placement in television programming over here. We’ve all seen Simon Cowell sipping from a Coca-Cola glass during American Idol but watching product placement taken to the next level in Canada’s Next Top Model (don’t judge) really blew my mind. In the makeover sequence of the episode I watched, Jay and Nole (two of the judges) take photos of the models on LG mobiles where the LG logo has been hugely enlarged and then talk about how they’re going to send each other the photos on their LG Chocolate mobiles.


In this same sequence, there are lingering shots on different variants of Clairol’s Nice and Easy as the judges talk about what they’re going to do with each girl’s hair. And it goes on. Skip Raid has a nice summary of every placement in the show. 

Coming from a digital background, all of this shouldn’t be a huge surprise to me with the heavy product integration that the likes of Bebo and MySpace offer, but what is startling is how accepting people over here seem to be towards it. Now bearing in mind this analysis only comes from a straw poll of my mates, it appears that they liked the LG and Clairol placements and thought that it made the show seem “more realistic”.

Food for thought, isn’t it?

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