Longwoods International

Canada, The World Next Door

Changing the Image of Canada in the Minds of US travellers

Canada's Image in 1985

moose

“Mountains, Moose and Mounties”

In 1985, the government of Canada approached Longwoods to see if we could help it understand why, over the past 15 years, its tourism sector had suffered a 50% decline.

Many theories had been used to explain why US travellers had stopped visiting, but there was no consensus or proven explanation as to why.

We conducted what was, at the time, the largest-ever study of the American travel market, completing 9,000 in-home interviews for analysis.

We found that Canada’s image amongst US travellers could best described as “Moose, Mountains and Mounties” … the country was seen as beautiful, but consisting of mostly empty wilderness.

Download the Canada Case Study

Canada Case Study

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Canada's Ad Campaign in the 80's

Canada Tourism ad (old)

Unfortunately, Tourism Canada’s advertising was reinforcing the negative stereotype of Canada as a place filled with empty wilderness, mountains, and mounties.

Results of our US pleasure travel study showed Canadians that their old assumptions about their country’s attractions had been wrong. Our research shed light on what was important when selling Canada to US travellers … that is was relatively close and easy to travel to, and that it was a warm, friendly and safe country to visit.

Most importantly the research revealed that, in the minds of those US travellers who had actually been to Canada, what made the country a great place to visit was its foreignness .

Canada was not America, and as such, it offered American travellers a unique cultural alternative without having to fly across the ocean to get it.

The New Campaign

"Canada, The World Next Door" TV ad

Longwoods' research became the foundation rebranding the image of Canada in the minds of US travellers. The new campaign, "Canada, The World Next Door," would focus on the country's culture and diversity.

We tracked the impact of “The World Next Door” campaign, and found that over the next four years, the campaign had successfully transformed the image of the country from its stereotype as a country with lots of wilderness -  but not much to do - into an exciting and unique foreign destination.

Travel business grew 18% over that time period and, for a period, Canada's image even surpassed that of the United States.

Featured Press

Wilderness not the draw we thought

OTTAWA (CP) – Americans are not as thrilled with our moose and mounties as the Canadian tourism industry once thought and that means a whole new marketing strategy is needed to lure them north on holidays, say Tourism Minister Jack Murta. “They are not as taken up with our wilderness experience, you know the Rockies and the mountains and all this, as we had once thought,” Murta said in an interview this week. These findings – the results of a study based on 9,000 in-home interviews with Americans – will be available to tourism industry members starting today when a huge computer database full of market information is unveiled at a federal tourism conference. Murta said the database represents the first time people have had access to such a huge source of tourism information and it will help the $20-billion-a-year industry grow. [...]

Canada: The World Next Door Gets Tourism Out of the Woods

However, with increasing numbers of Americans choosing to stay home rather than risk terrorist attacks abroad, and with Expo ’86 in Vancouver already shaping up as a major tourist draw, Canada clearly would be a logical vacation spot–if only it could somehow transform its image from dull to dazzling. Enter the combined forces of market research and advertising and a $20 million ($14.4 million U.S.) campaign to jazz up Canada’s public persona. As the first step in overhauling Canada’s image, Tourism Canada hired a Toronto research group to conduct a survey of the U.S. market. What resulted was 9,000 hour-long, in-home interviews that produced the not surprising conclusion that there was a general perception of Canada as clean, safe and dull, with immense stretches of wilderness broken up by cities that closed down at 5 p.m. [...]

Americans are flocking to Canada

TORONTO – Lured by a weak Canadian dollar, an advertising campaign and fear of terrorism abroad, vacationing Americans are flocking to Canada. If the trend continues, this will be a record year for Canadian tourism. In the first three months, 1.3 million Americans visited Canada and stayed more than one night, an increase of 16 percent over the same period last year. And now the real tourist season is only beginning. To draw more American visitors, the government has launched a $20 million advertising campaign with a difference. Instead of promoting Canada as the Great White North, the land of moose, mountains and Mounties [...]

Related Press

Canada has best year since ’72 for tourists from United States

Expo 86 in Vancouver wasn’t the only drawing card for foreign travel into Canada, although B.C. had an 81 per cent increase in foreign visitors staying at least one night. American visitors to Ontario increased 5 per cent last year to 8,437,000. Read more …

Canada is booming as a safe vacation spot

One region getting special mention this year is Vancouver, British Columbia, the country’s only big city on the west coast. It is the site of Expo 86, a world’s fair on transportation that also celebrates the centenary of the city’s founding. By itself, the fair is expected to draw several million Americans to Canada. Expo […]

Americans are flocking to Canada

TORONTO –  Lured by a weak Canadian dollar, an advertising campaign and fear of terrorism abroad, vacationing Americans are flocking to Canada. If the trend continues, this will be a record year for Canadian tourism. In the first three months, 1.3 million Americans visited Canada and stayed more than one night, an increase of 16 […]

Canada: The World Next Door

Canada gets tourism out of the woods However, with increasing numbers of Americans choosing to stay home rather than risk terrorist attacks abroad, and with Expo ’86 in Vancouver already shaping up as a major tourist draw, Canada clearly would be a logical vacation spot–if only it could somehow transform its image from dull to […]

Canada set for rush of U.S. tourist gold

VANCOUVER With its world-class Expo 86 and a whopping-good currency exchange rate to offer U.S. vacationers, Canada is expecting its greatest rush of Americans in a decade, says the country’s top tourism official. But he stopped short of specifying what many in the U.S. travel industry cite as the primary reason Americans are headed for […]

We could cash in on Canada’s new tourism image

Tourism Canada plans to tell Americans more about our cities and nightlife and less about our mountains and moose and that could pay dividends for Windsor’s growing tourism industry. According to a $1.2-million survey of American travellers, released Tuesday by tourism Minister Jack Murta, Canada’s major tourism strength is the fact that it’s close and […]

Canada’s rugged image hurts tourism, study finds

Canada can capture a bigger slice of the American tourist dollar if its plays down our Mounties, moose and mountains and promotes our cities, culture and a sense of foreignness, a federal study shows. The $1-million dollar study, based on 9,000 in-home interviews with Americans last year, shatters the old assumptions that Canadians have had […]

Wilderness not the draw we thought

OTTAWA (CP) – Americans are not as thrilled with our moose and mounties as the Canadian tourism industry once thought and that means a whole new marketing strategy is needed to lure them north on holidays, say Tourism Minister Jack Murta. “They are not as taken up with our wilderness experience, you know the Rockies […]