Building audiences—the importance of promoting the value of Canadian content

Talented Canadians receive extraordinary praise and earn the highest honors. During the past year, their films have played at 83 festivals and won 37 awards. La Guerre des tuques 3D and Brooklyn, respectively, generated more than $3 million and $6 million at the domestic box office. The aim is to promote this success so as to make Canadians aware of it, proud of it and ready to celebrate their cinema the same way they celebrate their astronauts and Olympic athletes! Thus the need to build solid promotional partnerships.

So we must innovate, create buzz, make people want to enjoy and share an experience tied to Canadian identity. This means working on the ground, from region to region, from city to city, to build on every film launch, every industry event, and drawing public and media attention to stand-out films.

At home, festivals showcase our country’s stars and filmmakers, connecting them with their audiences through screenings, fan zones, meet-and-greets and contesting. Abroad, homegrown success on the international scene is promoted to Canadians through media events and advertising. For example, happenings like An Evening with Canada’s Stars, held in Los Angeles in conjunction with the Oscars, celebrate our filmmakers’ achievements and build on the momentum of successful partnerships in the US.

The Canadian cinema brand is becoming more attractive. National Canadian Film Day has grown in popularity and is now celebrated at 170 venues. Awareness of the brand, as measured by surveyed Canadians’ ability to name a homegrown film, has risen from 37% in 2011-2012 to 49% in 2015-2016. Companies are increasingly eager to associate their brand with the success of Canadian cinema. One example: for the past four years, Telefilm Canada and Birks have paid tribute to Canadian women in film —directors, performers, writers—at the Birks Diamond Tribute, a high-profile event held during the Toronto International Film Festival.

Digital channels have transformed film marketing, particularly to Gen Y consumers, who thrive on newness and sharing. These days, the budget for creating an event on social media can represent more than 25% of the entire advertising budget. Engaging fans from the moment a project is conceived and sustaining their interest throughout the production process is now considered a condition of success, but everyone recognizes that this is unexplored territory. We must continue to innovate.

In 2017, Canada’s 150th anniversary and Telefilm Canada’s 50th will be opportunities to remind Canadians that their audiovisual industry is a cultural treasure to discover and rediscover, as well as a sector that makes a significant contribution to the GDP growth ($9 billion) and generates 148,500 FTE jobs for Canadians.