Each of the 10 short episodes, feature a different director and style, presenting a myriad of takes on how Canada is perceived both at home and abroad. The first for instance, directed by Tess Girard, takes “Canada the Good” as its title and features Simon Anholt, the policy-analyst behind the Good Country Index, musing on the perception of Canada as a “Good” nation and whether this is actually reflected in our practices.

Other episodes look at such themes as how globally popular musicians Drake and Shania Twain act as Brand Ambassadors, at the ways stereotypes and messages appearing in American pop-culture and television impact global perspectives (through the eyes of Mexico City residents), and the series concludes with a karaoke video for the national anthem in which ketchup chips take the starring role.

We spoke with Geoff Morrison about how the project got started and what he set out to achieve with the production. He was inspired in part by Marc Choko’s Canadian Pacific: Creating a Brand, Building a Nation. While the book looks, in part, at the development of a uniquely Canadian style of graphic design over time, it’s more concerned with the role the company played as both a transportation empire and landholder in shaping how our nation was and continues to be perceived, both through direct actions like sponsoring immigration, or the publication of materials that shaped persisting notions of the Canadian dream. Similarly, the Brand Canada series, aims not so much to provide a brand audit of the elements attributed to the Canadian identity, but to delve into investigations how people relate to the idea of Canada – and doing so through a diverse selection of perspectives seems a natural fit.

It was a priority of Morrison’s to ensure that the project took shape in a manner that didn’t prescribe a specific form and would instead let each of the directors taking part utilize whatever  approach they felt would suit their subject matter best. Online distribution works well for this, accommodating the varied styles and short episode lengths of the series while allowing them to be presented as collectively.

Morrison aims to reach an audience that is young, connected, and politically engaged, and is grateful to have partnered with the CBC – citing the strength of their approach to digital distribution right now – allowing the project to be accessed freely all across the country.

Like many other projects this year, Brand Canada falls under the umbrella of Canada 150 projects, but rather than asserting a definitive, conclusive, or singular stance on the Canadian identity, seems instead – with a marked openness and honesty – intent to catalyze further discussions.

WATCH THE SERIES HERE

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