Countdown: 7 of Canada’s best social media campaigns

In honour of Canada's 147th birthday, today, we've pulled together 7 of our favourite social media and video campaigns to come out of the country in recent years.

When you think of Canada, you probably think of maple syrup, Due South and all that snow. But as a proud Canadian living in the UK, what better way to celebrate my nation’s birthday than with a countdown of the best social media Canada has to offer, seeing as I have to work anyway…

Until recently, Canada boasted the most social networking users in the world on a per capita basis, according to research firm eMarketer. So it makes sense then that Canadian marketers and communicators would be among the world’s leaders in social media strategy and practice. Right? Let’s take a look as we begin our countdown with No. 7.


7. Tim Hortons: “The Priestley”

Anyone who’s spent time in Canada has most likely visited a Tim Hortons, or eight. Famous for their “double double” coffee and mouth-watering doughnuts, the coffee shop chain was recently catapulted into a dream marketing opportunity after a lucky reference in the U.S. sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

In the episode, the idea of ‘The Priestly’, a chocolate Timbit (a bite-sized doughnut) stuffed into a strawberry-vanilla doughnut, was born. Almost immediately after it aired, viewers stormed social media asking where they could get one. Tim Horton’s jumped on the opportunity bringing The Priestley dream to life, and going one step further to launch a doughnut flavour invention competition, of which Mr. Priestly himself was a judge.


6. Samsung Canada: The Dragon and the Kangaroo


Okay, so this isn’t a campaign, as much as an example of social media marketing at it’s best. It started with a private message sent from a Samsung customer asking for a mobile phone upgrade. The customer attached a drawing of a dragon he’d made “just for them.” While I’m sure Samsung Canada’s Facebook community manager wished he could give away phones to anyone who asked, sadly, this was not the reality. Still, the manager, who confesses has no artistic skill to speak of (we disagree) wanted to show this loyal customer how much Samsung appreciated his business. And so, he took the time to do a little sketch of his own – enter the kangaroo on a unicycle.

The result? The surprised and delighted customer shared the kangaroo on Reddit and the photo got voted up to the front page, driving loads of traffic to the company’s Facebook page and delivering positive brand sentiment all around. In the months to follow, Samsung went one step further and gave the customer his very own one-of-a-kind dragon-clad Samsung Galaxy S III for extra karma points. Well played, Samsung.


5. Chris Hadfield: “Space Oddity”

Beautifully shot, heart-fully sung, there is so much to love about this video. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield, with help from his web-savvy sons, used social media to bring outer space down to earth, capturing the imagination of both young and old around the world. The video, which had 22 million views before it was removed earlier this year, has helped to put NASA back on the map and made Hadfield one of the world’s most well-known astronauts in recent years. Some copies of the video are still circulating, so you can still watch (for now).


4. Tim Hortons – Doughnut for Deadmau5

Maybe it’s because I’m feeling nostalgic (being away from my home on it’s birthday and all) or maybe because I’m just hungry (it’s almost noon as I write this) but Tim Horton’s is getting another post on our list for their bespoke doughnut crafting.

After popular Canadian DJ Deadmau5 asked Tim’s to design a doughnut in his likeness, they once again rose to the challenge, and were aptly rewarded first by their community and then the massive artist’s, quickly followed by the rest of the country. As far as we’re concerned Tim’s has earned their social media stars (and chocolate sprinkles).


3. McDonald’s – Our food. Your questions.

McDonald’s Canada takes the No.3 spot for the very responsive approach they took recently after fielding increasing criticism on social media. In the spring of 2012, they launched a microsite called “Our Food. Your Questions,” which invited customers to ask the company anything about its food.

Most high-profile companies would see this as a high-risk nightmare scenario, but for Canada’s largest fast food chain this was a strategic move which, thankfully, paid off. Videos like the one above been viewed millions of times and is helping McDonald’s to build trust and reputation among Canadians and beyond.


2. West jet Airlines: Christmas miracle

Of course, no ‘best of Canadian social media’ list would be complete without the now famous “Christmas Miracle” video by Canadian airline West Jet. If you are one of the remaining few who hasn’t seen this spot-on example of ‘surprise and delight’ marketing, or you just feel like a happy cry, there’s no time like the present.


And our No.1 ‘best of social media’ out of Canada goes to…

1. Molson Canadian: Beer Fridge

Very topical for Canada Day, this 90-second video in which curious locals interact with a bright red fridge in London drew over 2.4 million views. The beer fridge landed the No. 2 spot for most viral Canadian ads of 2013, and has since gone on to appear at other destinations, including the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. It speaks to the essence of the brand (“I am Canadian”), capitalizes on the well-regarded portrait of the Canadian backpacker and is just fantastic in it’s storytelling execution. This one will be a favourite for many years to come.


I hope you’ve enjoyed reading our countdown as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. (I’m feeling very patriotic at the moment!) In particular, I hope it serves as a helpful reminder of what you can achieve with social media marketing, and the importance of responding to consumer opportunities, when it counts the most.

Thankfully, the suns come out shining over most of the UK today. And you know what that means… It’s time for a cold one. Cheers Canada!

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