Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation

Marc H. Choko’s Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation tells the story based on CP’s publicity (marketing and graphic design) output.

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand


Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation

If you know anything about Canadian history you know the Canadian Pacific Railway company played a role in shaping it. Marc H. Choko’s Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation tells the story based on CP’s publicity output—their marketing and graphic design in particular. It’s a unique take on telling a brand story while educating readers on how public and private interests can align for the greater good. In this case, forming a unified Canada.

Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand

The politics of rail | Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand

Being raised in Canada, I learned about CP’s scandalous beginnings from a political point of view. I imagined the private company as the big baddie, trying to monopolize the rail industry by outbidding all competitors and making backroom deals with politicians. While it’s not not what happened, this book adds another side to the story, the part where provinces (NS, NB, BC) refused to join the Canadian Confederation without the promise of a railway linking them to (now) Ontario/Quebec and how the British government wouldn’t/couldn’t fund it. Also added was the HUGE obstacle of the Canadian Shield and Rocky Mountains—and even once CP had the contract they were near bankrupted several times finding ways across these untamed wilds.

Oh, and if the railway didn’t happen out west then the United States would have annexed BC—the history of the Pacific Northwest (up until 1846 this was Alaska-California under the control of British North America) was interesting in particular as the motivation for keeping British Columbia under British control was for two reasons: 1) it seemed like a shorter route to Asia and 2) gold rush. Those were the only reasons because everyone out east thought the west was worthless.

CP had an uphill battle because this opinion was so prevalent. So the company advertised. They convinced their workers to talk up the west whenever they returned home to their families and communities, they brought in influencers (sorry, travel journalists) and gifted them all-inclusive luxury vacations so they would return to Europe and share their adventures. They built stunning hotels and created a steamship line to lure wealthy travellers across the sea and continent. And over time they even created mid-range accommodation so the new middle class could come too.

Duchess Steamships Newest and Largest

Business of the rail | Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand

Building a national railway was all well and good but CP was a for-profit company and therefore needed profits. Tourism was one thing, but to keep the rail lines safe and to increase land values they needed more people living out west. So they advertised. They worked with the government. And they built ready-made farms for people.

Because the (eastern) Canadian settlers had such a poor opinion of the west, CP reached out to Americans and Europeans instead, offering amazing deals and door-to-door (ish) travel. This was of interest to me because this is how my great grandparents came to the Canadian prairies—the promise of affordable land, a farm, and a home. I knew they got a good deal on the land but this is a whole other layer to their story.

Own Your Own Home in Canada

Conclusion

For 374 pages of Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation, take in the history, complexity, and ingenuity of a company created from a prime minister’s vision for a transcontinental railway. Learn how the company overcame devastating obstacles like political scandal, sabotage, financial ruin, the Great Depression, two world wars, recession, competition, and critique by holding on to a clear vision, creative marketing, influential graphic design, and diversification.

One note: I read a PDF review version and must say, I have missed out. I thought this was a marketing book so didn’t mind the digital format but more than half the pages are images of CP advertisements and historical photos. If I had the hardcover I would have enjoyed this book much more. As it stands, it was a joy to read, even if it did take me six months.

If you know anything about Canadian history you know the Canadian Pacific Railway company played a role in shaping it. Marc H. Choko's Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand Building a Nation tells the story based on CP's publicity output--their marketing and graphic design in particular. It's a unique take on telling a brand story while educating readers on how public and private interests can align for the greater good. In this case, forming a unified Canada.

Other Reviews

What is remarketing? A not-so-scary answer. Probably.

A few months ago I tried explaining remarketing to a group of somewhat social media savvy people. You know, people who like and use social media and know enough not to post photos they don’t want their kids to see.

What is remarketing

What is Remarketing?

Anyway, in attempting an explanation I ended up scaring everyone so I thought maybe, just maybe I could turn things around.

Maybe.

Yeah but, What is remarketing?

You know when you shop on Amazon and the boxes below show you what other people purchased? Well that’s kind of remarketing. Step one let’s say.

OK, so you’ve visited Amazon and you clicked on a couple things in the “other people purchased these products too” box. Maybe you even put something in your shopping cart. But then. You changed your mind.

Say it isn’t so!

So you move on. Bye bye Amazon, hello Facebook! Or Google, or whatever.You move on. While you’re browsing you happen to see…wait, what’s this? The same product you were just looking at on Amazon? Well it’s starting to look a bit more interesting now…hmm…

And you click on the link.

That, my friends, is remarketing.

So I understand why it’s scary. How did one website tell the other website what you were looking at? And what else does it know about you!?

I get it.

But the thing you have to keep in mind is you’re the one who told the Internet all it knows about you. No one else told the website anything. So if you don’t want websites to show you stuff you didn’t buy but might change your mind about, then you just need to give it a little less to go on.

Here are a couple quick tips to protect your privacy online

  • If you don’t want Facebook to know what you looked at on Amazon just clear your cache or turn on private browsing
  • Don’t fill in your social media profiles, especially your birth date, address, phone number, etc.
  • Don’t put your social insurance number on online forms unless it’s your bank or for a credit check
  • Use a password safe to store your passwords—so they can be auto-generated and you don’t have to remember them. Of course this is awkward if you’re trying to log into apps on your phone…haven’t figured that one out yet
  • Don’t give your postal code when using your credit card…you might as well give the store your address, phone number, and middle name too

So, remarketing isn’t scary if you know what you’ve shared online. And if you think you’ve shared to much, time to do a profile purge! Have fun!

Something else to keep in mind is if you are successful in tricking the Internet you’re going to get a lot of non-relevant advertising. Like I do. For diaper coupons and hockey stat apps.

What is remarketing? The thing you must keep in mind is you're the one who told the Internet all it knows about you. No one else told it anything.

Other Articles about marketing

Narrowing Down Travel Rewards Credit Cards

I’ve noticed a lot of television advertising lately about travel rewards credit cards. I figure the more competition then the better the rewards will be.

Narrowing Down Travel Rewards Credit Cards

I have a lot of points cards. A lot. I have so many I don’t even remember which clubs I belong to anymore. And I don’t know how many points I have, what I can do with them, or when/if they expire.

It’s a problem.

For a while now I’ve wanted to slim down my points memberships and choose a few I understand and will actually use. But how do you know which ones you’ll use and which ones give you the best value for your time and energy?

I’m overwhelmed to say the least.

Canada's top rewards cards

Canada’s Top Rewards Cards from 2013 via Rewards Canada

As I’ve waded through the different points options I’ve found ranking sites helpful, they do all the work and I can read the results. Thanks! My husband and I went through our options and decided for us travel rewards were the most important and since he charges a lot of expenses for work…a travel credit card was a good option.

In fact we were even able to narrow down to Aeroplan Canada, which feels so good. I went ahead and unsubscribed from all my other points emails and began looking for ways to optimize our points collecting.

Mileage balance: 7,219

I received my monthly newsletter the other night and was pumped to see all the different ways I could collect points. And then I went to check if I had enough points to, like, go anywhere.

Not with 7,219 points I can’t. But not to worry! The newsletter gave me lots of ways to pump up my points STAT.

aeroplan-options-galore

Whoa. Lots of options. Feeling overwhelmed…which option is best for me…

I’ve noticed a lot of television advertising lately about travel rewards credit cards. There are so many options and while it is overwhelming I’m happy there is competition. In my mind the more companies there are competing for my loyalty then the better the rewards will be. Right? That’s logical, right? Anybody?

Well, we’ll see. I’m setting a goal of taking a springtime trip completely on points. I think that’s enough time to go from 7,219 to…how many points do you need for two round-trip tickets around the world anyway?

I've noticed a lot of television advertising lately about travel rewards credit cards. I figure the more competition then the better the rewards will be.

This post was compensated but don’t worry, the story is original (and mine! And also true!)

The Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich Calorie Count Battle

I love a good breakfast sandwich as much as the next guy but in this health-conscious era we’re in the fast-food companies have had their hands full in convincing Canadians to keep coming back for more.

Great Canadian Breakfast Sandwich Calorie Count Battle

If you live in Canada there’s an excellent chance you’ve seen the kinda-catchy-kinda-annoying Egg McMuffin commercial (you know, the whaaaat!? one).

Well, I don’t find it annoying I find it humorous. But I know it’s annoying because I’ve heard other people say so. And that’s OK.

While you were watching, did you notice what the actors were whaaaat!?-ing about?

Because there are only 290 calories in the breakfast sandwich.

Yeah kind of a selling feature. I mean, they don’t add in the latte and hash brown but still. Whaaaaat!?

McDonald's breakfast sandwich calorie count

Then I noticed the Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich commercial. At first I thought they were advertising because they’d swapped the ham out for turkey but then I noticed the laid back, “Oh yeah no big deal but our breakfast sandwich not only has turkey but it’s, like, only 330 calories.”

Whaaaat!?

Oh sorry, wrong restaurant.

Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich calorie count

I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Did Tims add the calorie count because McDonald’s did? And even though it’s only 40 calories more…it’s still 40 calories more. And 200 sounds like way less than 300.

Am I over thinking this?

Then I went online to find the nutrition information. Because calories are one thing, fat and sodium are another. Beside both sandwiches there’s a button to see the info, so of course I clicked.

McDonald's Nutrition Info

The McDonald’s info was really clean and easy to find. The Tim Hortons brochure was there, but try as I may I couldn’t find the turkey breakfast sandwich. Maybe it’s not updated (the breakfast sandwich is that new?) or something. Maybe the type was too small. I don’t know.

To round out my research I decided to, you know, do a taste test (obviously) and see if the calorie count made me exclaim anything. I didn’t really notice. Although I did only eat half of my Tim Hortons breakfast sandwich but I think it had more to do with coming down with strep throat than the quality of the food.

I looked around a bit to see if anyone else was following the Canadian breakfast sandwich calorie count battle. Nope. Guess I’m the only one who thinks it’s worth mentioning.

I love a good breakfast sandwich as much as the next guy but in this health-conscious era we're in the fast-food companies have had their hands full in convincing Canadians to keep coming back for more.

Storytelling and Advertising, Part 2

Today I’m thinking about storytelling and decided to take a closer look at the Ron Burgundy Dodge Durango advertising campaign. This is such a great example of how storytelling and advertising work together.

Storytelling and Advertising

Storytelling and Advertising

I mentioned before how I think the Anchorman spots for Dodge are a home run and I want to expand a bit on my thoughts.

My Initial Thoughts

After viewing the ads a few weeks back, here is what passed through my mind.

  • The highly anticipated Anchorman sequel is coming out at the end of the year so there are some strong opportunities for co-branding—leveraging the popularity of Anchorman in order to advertise an unrelated product or brand (in this case the Dodge Durango)
  • By creating humour-based 30-second spots and putting the entire campaign on YouTube the chances of them going viral are excellent
  • By using the Ron Burgundy character to push Durangos, Dodge has the opportunity to capture the 20(&30)something market—if they’re open to purchasing new vehicles of course
  • Is this group the right target market?
  • These ads will definitely help the movie, but will they help the vehicle?

So my “home run” comment was more about the success of the viral campaign as I am on the fence of whether the bigger gamble—the selling of Durangos—will pay off.

So what does this campaign have to do with storytelling?

Without actually knowing what Dodge hopes to gain from this campaign here are my guesses. By the way, these ads are telling a story and the story is not random. (Although the ads may be.)

The Story

  • Who is the target? My hunch is those who love Ron Burgundy and who are also on social media will respond best to these ads. Those people are likely men in their late 20s, early 30s in urban areas
  • What do they want people to do? I think the goal here is to inspire people to share the ads on their social media channels in an entertainment capacity (equaling free advertising), with the underlying goal of motivating those looking for a new SUV to purchase a 2014 Dodge Durango
  • What do they want people to feel? This is a little tougher for me to guess but if I had a look at their brand book I expect to find words like “youthful,” “hip,” and “doesn’t take self too seriously.” In an effort to capture a younger buyer, the brand must frame themselves in people’s minds as representative of the generation
  • How will they accomplish this? Through co-branding, viral videos mixed with television advertising, and humour

So how is this storytelling?

While this isn’t a “once upon a time there was a company that wanted to make more money” kind of story (I know, how boring) there is a story here. It’s a company using an advertising campaign in order to tell us what kind of brand they are. They’re telling us a story of how they want to be thought about, and what kind of company they want to be.

See how interesting storytelling and advertising can be? The risk for Dodge is choosing the right target for their product/brand and the right partners to help them tell their story (through both media and co-branding).

Is it working?

You may have gathered I don’t think Anchorman will suffer from this campaign, but I’m unsure if the gamble will result in increased sales for Dodge. And it would seem I’m not the only one wondering. There’s a great article in BloombergBusinessweek on how this campaign is doing. The short story: sales up 11 per cent overall and up 59 per cent for Durango. Can this all be attributed to Ron Burgundy? Of course it’s impossible to say for sure but it’s not…not working.

Another interesting snippet from the article is the Durango is Dodge’s smallest piece of the pie as far as sales go. So this is a really interesting choice for me. It makes me wonder if this target is for the Durango only, and not the brand overall. And if that’s the case, will people outside of the target who are loyal to the brand feel turned off by this campaign? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

There is something about storytelling and advertising, which leaves me captivated. I find myself listening to the radio specifically for the advertisements.