Can advertising make a car Canadian? Marketing experts know that when Canadians go shopping, they look for reflections of themselves in what they buy. Companies spend money on promotional campaigns that present their cars in the glow of Canadian images, history and culture—using Canadian celebrities and images of ‘typical’ Canadian life to sell cars. Companies also brand cars as Canadian by choosing names and adding features designed to appeal specifically to the Canadian market.

To explore images and symbols that have been used to sell cars in Canada, browse through the advertisements featured in the Gallery of the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition.
Can advertising make a car Canadian? Marketing experts know that when Canadians go shopping, they look for reflections of themselves in what they buy. Companies spend money on promotional campaigns that present their cars in the glow of Canadian images, history and culture—using Canadian celebrities and images of ‘typical’ Canadian life to sell cars. Companies also brand cars as Canadian by choosing names and adding features designed to appeal specifically to the Canadian market.

To explore images and symbols that have been used to sell cars in Canada, browse through the advertisements featured in the Gallery of the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Brochure Cover, Toyota Camry 1999

The background for this advertising brochure depicts the work of iconic Canadian landscape painter Tom Thomson (1877-1917).

Toyota Canada, Inc.
1999
© Toyota Canada, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


General Motors advertisement featuring the Dionne quintuplets, 1940

The world-renowned Dionne quintuplets were born in 1934 near North Bay, Ontario. They were a popular sensation and their image was used to sell many products.

National Home Monthly, April 1940
Courtesy of A. & C. Dionne, Dionne Quints Museum Collection, and General Motors of Canada Limited
1940
© General Motors of Canada Limited. All Rights Reserved.


Format: Research, Group discussion

Familiarize yourself with the advertisements in the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition’s gallery. As you are browsing, list images and ideas that are used to appeal to Canadians. Examples might include:

• the location of the ad (in the wilderness, in a specific Canadian city)

• the depiction of a ‘Canadian’ pastime

• the name of a car model

• icons and logos associated with the car

As a class, examine and discuss three to five advertisements, each containing different imagery and ideas.

• What do the ads convey about Canada?

• To what degree do these messages reflect realities about Canadian life and identity?

• How does each advertisement try to appeal to Canadian identity?

Working on your own, select a household item and ‘re-brand’ it as Canadian. Draw from the concepts and imagery discussed in class. Pitch your Canadian product Read More
Format: Research, Group discussion

Familiarize yourself with the advertisements in the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition’s gallery. As you are browsing, list images and ideas that are used to appeal to Canadians. Examples might include:

• the location of the ad (in the wilderness, in a specific Canadian city)

• the depiction of a ‘Canadian’ pastime

• the name of a car model

• icons and logos associated with the car

As a class, examine and discuss three to five advertisements, each containing different imagery and ideas.

• What do the ads convey about Canada?

• To what degree do these messages reflect realities about Canadian life and identity?

• How does each advertisement try to appeal to Canadian identity?

Working on your own, select a household item and ‘re-brand’ it as Canadian. Draw from the concepts and imagery discussed in class. Pitch your Canadian product to the class.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Format: Research, group discussion

Browse the historical ads featured in the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition Gallery. As you are looking at ads, review the timeline’s decade overviews, which will provide you with valuable historical context.

In small groups, discuss the following and record your thoughts:

• How have advertisements changed in terms of visual expression, language, and content?

• What are some influences, outside of the car industry, that impacted advertisement content during different decades? For example, what images and symbols were used in car advertisements during the World Wars? How were these different from earlier or later years?

• What do advertisements tell us about consumers’ interests at a given time in history?

• What messages or values do advertisements conveying to consumers? How have these mes Read More
Format: Research, group discussion

Browse the historical ads featured in the In Search of the Canadian Car virtual exhibition Gallery. As you are looking at ads, review the timeline’s decade overviews, which will provide you with valuable historical context.

In small groups, discuss the following and record your thoughts:

• How have advertisements changed in terms of visual expression, language, and content?

• What are some influences, outside of the car industry, that impacted advertisement content during different decades? For example, what images and symbols were used in car advertisements during the World Wars? How were these different from earlier or later years?

• What do advertisements tell us about consumers’ interests at a given time in history?

• What messages or values do advertisements conveying to consumers? How have these messages changed over time, and how have they remained the same?

• How do specific advertisements use messages intended to appeal specifically to Canadians?

• What types of messages and values are used in current car advertisements?

Present your findings to the rest of the class by means of a group discussion, poster board project, or PowerPoint presentation.

© 2011, Canada Science and Technology Museum. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

  • Students will identify Canadian images and icons used in advertisements through history, and will apply their knowledge in the development of new images and promoting new products.
  • Students will identify major events that had an impact on the depiction of Canada and Canadian values and icons.

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