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Canadians And Their Social Values, Parts Trois and Quatre

I have been away from the blogosphere for a wee bit too long (and for good reason that I’ll explain in my post mañana, so come back!), but I would be completely remiss if I didn’t pass along the third and fourth articles discussing Canadians and their defining social values. This particular post is a long one, but stick with it — I promise you’ll thank me for it and there may just be a surprise at the end of the rainbow. :-)

As a Texan in Canada, I feel I have to talk about this series, primarily because of the rarity with which you see articles so good. It’s not often you read a series so good that you’re compelled to devour the entire thing from A to Zee (no, not Zed). And even more rare are those occasions when both the sun and moon are aligned with Jupiter and you’ve just discovered a four-leaf clover, that you actually want to write about what you’ve read. Luckily, such is the case with the series about Canadians and their social values written by the obviously brilliant strategy team at MacLaren McCann (specifically Heidi McCulloch (@heidimcculloch) and Lee Chapman (whose Twitter handle I don’t know, but will find out!) in partnership with the Canadian Marketing Association.

I’ve previously blogged about part one of the series that addressed Canadians’ individualism, and part two of the series which astutely canvasses the topics of tolerance and acceptance. Today, I bring you parts three and four.

The third part detailed Canadians’ quality of life and was simply fantastic. It eloquently summed up the main reason I love living in Canada so much. Sure, it’s expensive as hell, but if you like spending time with your family without feeling like you’re going to lose your job or can pursue your passion because you you know you’ll have healthcare no matter what that passion may be, then Canada’s your place.

Now, without further ado, part three of the series.

Defining Value #3
“One difference between Americans and Canadians is that Americans are still waiting to win the lottery. Canadians live as if they have already won the lottery.” Michael Adams, Fire and Ice, 2003.

20% of Canadians cite Quality of Life as top source of pride in being Canadian. (Macleans Canada Day Survey 2006). Quality of Life is one of Canadians’ key defining values.

Quality of life, simply put, refers to how good life is. People throughout the centuries, and in various parts of the world, have defined quality in their lives in rather distinct ways.

Among developed countries, certain variables are consistent in defining quality of life – life expectancy, purchasing power, literacy and education, housing, employment, finances. Against these variables, in study after study, Canada has always landed in the top ranks. For example, in the 2009 Mercer Consulting annual Quality of Living Survey among 215 cities, Vancouver ranked 4th and Toronto ranked 15th. In all of the Americas, Canadian cities of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Calgary dominated the top spots.

Where does this come from?

• Canada is endowed with nature’s majesty, in lakes, mountains, fields in our backyard. Our physical closeness to nature likely inspires a more mellow approach to life and living.
• Since after the Great Depression, Canada instituted policies that would ensure that its people maintained certain standards of living – pensions, health care, protection from unemployment and other social support. Having a secure safety net gives people a certain reassurance that no matter what goes wrong, all will be well; in general, people have less to be anxious and stressed about. Unencumbered, people pursue a certain way of living that is more attuned to relationships, connections, rather than simply getting ahead in a rat race.

Points of Evidence
Macleans annual Canada Day poll offers up interesting proof points about Canadians’ distinct version of quality of life.

For Canadians, there is more to life than work: Canadians place A REWARDING CAREER behind Freedom; Family Life; Being Loved and Being Canadian on their list of things that they value the most. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Asked which activities they enjoy most, Canadians cite: A nice meal with my partner; Having a few hours for myself. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)

Canadians believe that Experiences, not Things, make one happy. When asked, what is the best thing that happened to you in the past year, milestones such as weddings, births, pregnancies, vacations, graduations rose to the top of the lists. Moving into a new house or getting a new car sat at the bottom of the list of best things. (Macleans Canada Day Poll 2006)
Canadians don’t care for keeping up with the Joneses. 29% of Canadians say it’s important that people admire the things they own, compared with 36% of Americans. (Fire and Ice, Michael Adams)

Marketing Reference
Lululemon

The brand believes in keeping healthy, exercising, and drinking eight glasses of water a day. They’re not just getting people to buy their clothes, but to embrace the lifestyle they promote. And that lifestyle, outlined in their manifesto, includes beliefs like, “Friends are more important than money.” Their mission: Lululemon athletic creates components for people to live longer, healthier and more fun lives. If we can produce products to keep people active and stress-free, we believe the world will become a much better place. Lululemon has successfully tapped into a Canadians’ unique view of what a good life looks like.

Molsons’ Made From Canada
The Made From Canada spot pays homage to Canadas’s natural beauty, and the uniquely Canadian impulse to enjoy it as much as we can. Copy: Fact is, its this land that shapes us. We know we have the best backyard in the world and we get out there every chance we get.

Lee Chapman, Strategic Planner, MacLaren

And finally, article four, which tackles why Canada is just so peaceful (Hi, how about the “no guns allowed” rule? ;-)).

This post signals an end to our series on Dominant Canadian Social Values. We’ve outlined 4 Canadian Values: a unique balance between individualism and collectivism; an attitude of tolerance and acceptance; a heightened appreciation for a quality of life; and finally, an essentially peaceful predisposition.

We hope these guideposts will help you when crafting communications that can relevantly connect with and engage Canadians.

Defining Value #4
Borne of a legacy of cooperation and compromise, Canadians are essentially a peaceful people living in a peaceful place. An underlying sense of comfort and security manifests in our ideology with regards to peacekeeping and also is reflected in our business dealings. Further, it may be what allows us to attend to what we refer to as ‘higher level values’.

Points of Evidence
Canada truly and factually is a safer place to live. The murder rate in Canada is 1.85: 100,000 people, as compared to the U.S. at 5.6:100,000. The U.S. incarceration rate is approximately 6 times higher than in Canada; in fact, Canada’s murder rate has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 1975.

And perceptually Canadians feel safer as a people. Canadians afraid to walk at night is down almost 5% since 1975 and Canadians are more worried about Bullying than Terrorism.(MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2006)

How this Manifests
On Peacekeeping
: When Canadians are asked about the traditional role of the Canadian military, they speak with pride about Canadian participation in United Nations peacekeeping missions. Over the years, more than 125,000 Canadian military personnel have served on peacekeeping missions for the United Nations – more than any other country. (cbcnews.ca, Canada: The World’s Peacekeeper)

In Business: Our peacefulness extends to our engagement style regarding business dealings. The 2008 Bribe Payer’s Index, prepared by the global civil society organization Transparency International, ranks Canada at No. 1, tied with Belgium—meaning our companies are the least likely in the world to engage in payoffs. Only four per cent of Canadian business people have ever bribed high-ranking politicians or political parties, according to the survey, well below the international average of 13 per cent. (MacLean’s Magazine Canada Day Report 2009)

On ‘Higher-Level Values’: Canadians embrace social responsibility. Almost 7 in 10 Canadians (68%) pay attention to issues related to Corporate Social Responsibility; 52% have consciously refused to buy a product or a service from a company not conducting business in a socially responsible way. And Canadians see the global environmental issue as second only to healthcare as a pressing issue facing the country (note that this ranking has bounced about a little with economy factoring in of late). (Social Responsibility in Canada, Ipsos Reid 2003 and 2006)

A Marketing Reference
Need we look any further than the spiritually-based success story that is Lululemon?

But in the interest of not repeating ourselves, let’s reference Marc Thuet’s restaurant in Toronto instead – Conviction Restaurant. Conviction Restaurant offers recently rehabilitated ex-convicts a chance to turn their lives around by helping give patrons “the most unforgettable eating experience of their lives”. As testament to the success of the concept, planning for a second Conviction location in British Columbia is currently underway.

Thanks again for your valuable time and attention!

Heidi McCulloch, V.P., Senior Strategic Planner, MacLaren McCann

So there you have it. Four defining reasons that makes Canada, and Canadians, great. Longtime ATGAIC readers already know that I love Canada, but just to set the record straight, I don’t in any way hate the States; on the contrary. Rather, it’s more like trying to fit into your favourite high school sweater; even though it might not fit quite right anymore, you’ll always have a certain fondness for it and you have to buy something new. Who knows, maybe I can figure out a way to live in both of “my” countries, by which I mean if you are a Canadian sugar daddy looking for a cute American girl, you know where to find me. :-)

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PodCamp Wickedness: The Unconference

You’ve heard of unconferences, right? Those participant-driven geek affairs that have effectively saved the world from having to take out second mortgages on their homes in order to enjoy a good conference now and then.

Unconferences were actually born back in the mid-80’s when Harrison Owen developed the concept of Open Space Technology. The term “unconference”, though, wasn’t popularized until BarCamp and BloggerCon came onto the scene in 2005-ish. They’re typically centered around new and social media events and are organized for its participants, by its participants, and definitely aren’t filled with a bunch of stuffy, talking heads. The community is ultimately responsible for the success, or failure, of an event, which requires that you be an active participant rather than just an attendee – but active in making real progress and not just status quo. The sessions facilitate this type of interaction: they’re experiential; they often foster lively discussions and collaborative solutions that ultimately create truly sustainable communities; and require new tools, new perspectives, and better collaboration.

PodCamp Toronto is just one of these unconferences. You’ve probably heard of, and hopefully listened to, a podcast; PodCamp, though, shouldn’t be confused as being for podcasters only. In fact, PodCamp is for anyone interested in new media, including bloggers, podcasters, YouTubers, and social media networking whores. What you definitely won’t find at PodCamp are suits and ties, that’s for sure. One of the unique things about PodCamp is the use of the “law of two feet”, meaning that if you aren’t getting anything out of the session you’re in, it’s not at all considered rude to walk out and go to a session you might deem more useful. Don’t you wish we could do that all the time^^? But I digress.

I attended nine sessions over the two day conference^ and, because I know you’re dying to know what I thought, I’ll review some of the wicked highlights here. You’re welcome.

1) Integration, Integration, Integration: Communications in the New Social Media Ecosystem by Dave Fleet. An excellent and lively

Photo credit:

discussion about social media and how it integrates with traditional media. Dave talked about the three types of media: owned, paid, and earned, as well as about the “ecosystem of communications” and how to manage the sum of those media reactions. We all decided that Molson had done an amazing job embracing and weaving social media in with its traditional media, especially with the Molson Canadian Hockey House at the Olympics, but decided that their success could also be due to their delicious Canadian beer. Anyway.

2) Lunch! My friend Chris, with whom I attended, and I ate Chinese-style burritos at Chino Locos. Pan-fried noodles and guacamole, anyone?

3) The Inside Scoop on Social Media Analytics by Aubrey Podolsky. An analytics girl, I am not. I’m fairly certain my blog isn’t going to make me a zillionaire, so what’s the point? I don’t pore over stats about who came to my blog and how many times, because I just don’t care. That said, I thought it would be good to get some high-level ideas on how people measure as I realize it’s a vital part of growing the channel. This particular session didn’t cut it for me with the exception of one thing: the deck style he used was amazing! It’s called Prezi.com and is fabulous! I saw two people use that style of presentation deck over the weekend and I could hardly get home to download it fast enough. PowerPoint, you’ve met your match.

4) Is Email Marketing Dead? This session was close to my heart as it may or may not have something to do with my day job. Nevertheless, I’m fairly certain I could have given the session myself, unfortunately. For example, the presenter suggested that you add someone to your email newsletter just by virtue of them leaving a comment on your blog. EGADS! I can assure you that that is *not* best practice and would advise you not do it — ever — unless you want to end up on every blacklist out there. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

5) Twitter and Dating by Jeremy Wright and Melissa Smich. No unconference would be complete these days without a session on Twitter and dating, coined as #twating by these delightful presenters. The session was lively and amusing, and included some great tales of major DM fails, but also some major DM loves. Much discussion was had around the creative uses for hashtags. The best part of this session, though? Red velvet cupcakes. FTW.

6) Tod Maffin’s “Awesome-Izing Your Podcast: Secrets from Radio by Tod Maffin. My last session of the weekend was a highlight of PodCamp. A podcaster, I’m not, but a public radio fan, I *definitely* am. I have pretty much shirked all music in favour of all public radio, all the time*, so when I found out one of the grandfathers*** of podcasting, Tod Maffin, was presenting, I kicked the “law of two feet” into overdrive and practically hurdled myself into a frenzy by sprinting to his session as fast as I could. I’m really glad I did, too. His presentation style was totally engaging, his material was clear and concise, and he articulated a ton of detailed information rather than just more of the tree-top ideas I’d seen throughout the weekend. He’s obviously been around the public radio block, so to speak, and offered us a smorgasbord of do’s and don’ts, along with live audio examples that brought it all to life. In fact, if you have any interest in writing, podcasting, public radio, or any combination thereof, you might want to check out Tod’s book, Idea to Air, where you can peruse his awesome tips at your own, non-PodCamp pace.

Overall, my first PodCamp was awesome. I learned a lot of stuff, some great and some not so great. I learned that you should not be a keener and sit in the front row; it’s difficult to take advantage of the “law of two feet” when you’re practically sitting on top of the speaker. I learned a lot about social media, the analytics of it, and how to (better) figure out what’s valuable and what isn’t in the digital space. I learned a lot of goodness over the weekend, but do you know the biggest thing I learned? I want a Mac. :-)

^Because I am a keener geek. Apparently, the “real” PodCamp networking happens in the hallways while the sessions are going on and is affectionately known as “LobbyCamp”. Next year!
*Also, I’m 94.
** Kidding.
^^ Like work, or people going on and on about the pains of their  childbirth. Gawd.
*** Although he certainly doesn’t look like a grandfather. ;-)

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