Sorry, Not Sorry. New Campaign Spotlights Kick-Ass Canadian Talent on the World Stage
Get ready to feel some pride, Canada. MADE Better features a series of TV spots, social hits, and website takeovers that show Canadians have a lot to celebrate in the entertainment industry at home and around the world.
Canadians are known for being humble. We say sorry a lot, and we don’t like to brag. A new campaign from the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Telefilm Canada aims to change that.
Launched as part of the MADE | NOUS initiative to promote Canadian talent and stories, the campaign is dubbed MADE Better in English and Tout ça, c’est NOUS (“All of this is us”) in French.
With fast-paced, feel-good TV spots, and web ads, the campaign highlights how Canadians in film, television, video games, and digital entertainment are behind some of the most impactful storytelling in the world.
“We want people to get excited about the content we have here, to get curious about watching shows they haven’t seen before, and to root for homegrown stars the same way they do for Canadian athletes or musicians,” says Mathieu Chantelois, CMF’s Executive Vice President of Marketing and Public Affairs.
“Canada’s often been called Hollywood North,” notes Bart Given, Managing Director of Torque Strategies and one of the architects of the MADE | NOUS brand. “Let’s reverse that. Maybe Hollywood is Vancouver South, Toronto South, Montreal South — or even Calgary South with all the buzz The Last of Us is getting,” he says, referring to the hit HBO series that brought a massive production budget to Alberta.
“I can’t imagine a better time to celebrate our country’s accomplishments,” Given adds. “James Cameron’s Avatar: Way of Water is crushing the box office, Sarah Polley’s racking up award-season accolades for Women Talking, including an Oscar nomination for Adapted Screenplay, and Denis Villeneuve will bring Dune: Part Two to theatres later this year.”
CREATING THE CAMPAIGN
The MADE | NOUS crew teamed up with Rethink (Agency of the Year at the 2022 Strategy Awards) to build a campaign that highlights Canada’s oversized contributions to the entertainment industry.
“We decided, instead of telling Canadians about why our creators and the stories they tell are the best in the world, let’s just show them,” says Grace Cho, Rethink’s Creative Director.
The result is a series of fast-paced sizzle reels that use clips, interviews, and award-show footage to represent the best of Canadian entertainment.
“Through the campaign, we want to instill in Canadians a sense of collective pride, as well as a goosebump or two,” says Cho.
The campaign’s central message is that Canadian stories and content are simply made better. Spinoffs from that concept focus on specific strengths, like comedy (MADE Funny), video game design (MADE Thrilling), and diversity (MADE Historic). The French-language campaign is similar but uses NOUS, as in “l’humour, c’est NOUS,” to reinforce pride of ownership.
“This campaign isn’t telling people to eat broccoli because it’s good for them,” says Chantelois. “It’s showing people that they should seek out Canadian storytelling because it's delicious.”
The last few years have been ground-breaking for Canada’s Indigenous, Black, other racialized, and LGBTQ+ talent as they’ve racked up a long list of industry firsts.
Mississauga’s Simu Liu became the first Asian lead in a Marvel movie with Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. Markham’s Iman Vellani played the first Muslim superhero, Kamala Khan a.k.a. Ms. Marvel, on Disney+. Domee Shi, who moved to Toronto from China when she was two, became the first solo female director of a Pixar movie and set her feature, Turning Red, in T.O. Toronto’s Bilal Baig became the first queer South Asian Muslim to star in a primetime Canadian series.
Plus, three Canadian Indigenous actors — Devery Jacobs from Kanien’kehà:ka Mohawk Territory in Quebec, Paulina Alexis from Alexis Nakota Sioux Nation in Alberta, and Toronto’s D’Pharaoh Woon-A-Tai — nabbed three of the four lead roles in the critically acclaimed Reservation Dogs, which is the first series to feature all Indigenous creatives at the helm.
The MADE Better campaign features these examples and many more to show how Canadian creators are leading the way in representation.
“Diversity is what makes our content so amazing,” says Chantelois. “The international demand for Indigenous-led content has never been greater , with shows like Pour toi Flora and Bones of Crows. Schitt’s Creek, a series that champions diversity, was shopped around and rejected by American networks. CBC took a chance on it and it brought home nine Emmys. Kim’s Convenience has also garnered a huge international fanbase.”
“We have many stories to tell,” he adds, “and we are not shying away from telling them.”
THE FRENCH CONNECTION
A separate team in Quebec created a series of spots celebrating French Canada’s unique and thriving entertainment industry — like C.R.A.Z.Y., Mommy, Les Boys, Maria — all set to Quebec singer Fanny Bloom’s peppy hit song “Piscine.”
“In French, the considerations were pretty much the same as the English ones,” says Charles Côté, Copywriter for Rethink’s Quebec team. “We wanted to have a great mix of iconic scenes and sequences from Quebec, new shows on TV, big names. We’ve got Denis Villeneuve, the late Jean-Marc Vallée, big directors represented, but also Pour toi Flora and Quebecois talent on Canada’s Drag Race.”
THEY’RE FROM HERE?
The MADE Better campaign also brings awareness to actors, movies, shows, and video games viewers may already love but not realize are Canadian.
It’s no surprise to see Ryan Reynolds, Russell Peters, and the casts of Letterkenny and Workin’ Moms pop up, but did you know Adam DiMarco, who plays perennial good guy Albie Di Grasso on the latest season of The White Lotus, hails from Oakville, Ontario?
“You see it and you’re like ‘Oh my goodness, I had no idea,’” says Rethink Art Director Shona Massey.
Similarly, the campaign highlights how strong Canada is in the global video game industry. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, for example, was developed by Ubisoft Montreal. The popular action-adventure game features prominently in the 15-second MADE Thrilling video running on social media channels as part of the campaign’s digital component.
“We decided to go big with gaming on social media because that’s where the folks who are passionate about it are,” explains Garinne Bechakjian, Brand Manager for the MADE | NOUS campaign. “Canada’s strength in this industry cannot be understated, and should be celebrated alongside our other achievements in the broader entertainment industry.”
WHERE TO SEE
MADE Better’s 30-second spots are airing on major TV networks from February to April. Online, look for shorter versions of those spots, programmatic video and static display ads, social media hits and targeted website takeovers during that same timeframe.
Or, go to the MADE | NOUS website (made-nous.ca in English, celebronsnous.ca in French) to view the campaign at your leisure and enjoy a curated collection of some of the shows and movies featured in the videos.
“You know, Canada has some of the best of the best,” says Chantelois. “It's time for us to be proud of this, even brag about it, and celebrate the talent that we have, right? Sometimes we feel shy—I think it's time for us to celebrate.”