Global brand index says Canada world #1. But there's no Canadian love for T.O.
They love us. They hate us.
It's a week of decidedly mixed news for those of us who live in The Big Smoke. First off, and on a somewhat serious note, there was news on Thursday that a group called Future Brands has, for the second year in a row, named Canada as number one in their Country Brand Index.
The index, which featured on-line interviews with travellers from all over the globe, takes into account a number of factors, including the qualities that people think of when they hear a country’s name, read or see images of a location, or plan a business or leisure trip.
FutureBrand praised Canada for being a country that "actively manages its country brand to constantly improve performance." It noted use of natural landscape imagery and the "iconic maple leaf" to promote the country.
"As the United Kingdom prepares to leverage the power of the London 2012 Olympic Games, it would do well to emulate Canada's treatment of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, where the event was used as a platform to build sustainable brand strength across every dimension," FutureBrand said in a statement.
For those who missed it yesterday, here's the 1-10 ranking: 1. Canada. 2. Switzerland. 3. New Zealand. 4. Japan. 5. Australia. 6. USA. 7. Sweden. 8. Finland. 9. France 10. Italy.
It's obviously, or seemingly, a little biased to western countries, which makes me wonder about the sample base. Future Brands said they consulted some 3,500 folks, but it still seems pretty Euro-white-centric, notwithstanding Japan's presence in the number four slot.
Quoted in the Vancouver Sun, Jack Jedwab, executive director of the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies, said it's not surprising Canada's brand has such appeal.
"(People in other countries) think we're a very open, diverse, welcoming country," he said. "That's a widely held view when you travel abroad."
It's certainly great news for our tourism industry to see us at the top of the Future Brand chart. There IS something kinda special about this country of ours, and there's nothing wrong with a bit (just a bit) of chest-thumping, especially when you look at how the U.S. fell from fourth in 2010 to sixth this year, and how the UK dropped from #9 in 2010 to a relatively woeful 13th spot in 2011, the Royal Wedding notwithstanding.
It's interesting that the Future Brands report came at the World Travel Mart in London, where a lot of the talk is about the London Summer Olympics next year. As well, it's notable that U.S. tourism folks used the Travel Mart meetings this week to unveil their new global approach to tourism and show off a new logo.
Oddly enough, the U.S. has never had a nation-wide approach to boosting tourism, relying instead on individual states or cities to get their message out in Germany and Ghana and elsewhere around the globe. I don't much care for the logo, although at least it doesn't have Uncle Sam. I believe they intentionally shied away from the red, white and blue as polling showed too many folks around the world think of the U.S. (shockingly) as brash and arrogant.
So maybe they're taking a page from the Canadian songbook, eh?
As good as the Future Brands news was for Canada, we here in Toronto had to know it was too much of a good thing. Sure enough, there was news this week that a new poll had found the most hated city in Canada (by Canadians, not the good folks in Japan or Finland) is ... Toronto. The most loved? Surprisingly, I think, it was Ottawa.
A story on CTV's website says Leger Marketing surveyed 2,345 Canadians on behalf of the National Capital Commission and the Association of Canadian Studies, asking if they had a very positive, somewhat positive, somewhat negative or very negative perception of eight major cities.
The results showed that 19 per cent of respondents felt negatively toward Toronto, and the anti-love was highest in Western Canada. Thirty per cent of Albertans said they disliked Toronto, a sentiment shared by 27 per cent of respondents in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and 23 per cent in British Columbia.
Ontario's capital fared best among those inside the province, but 15 per cent of survey participants responded negatively. (Hey, all you folks in Thunder Bay and Windsor, thanks a lot.)
Montreal was right behind T.O. in the hate vote, with 18 per cent support (or lack thereof).
Ottawa was ranked highest (a nice nod to national unit) with 82 per cent positive support, closely followed by Victoria (81) and Vancouver (80).
As someone who grew up on the west coast of the U.S. and always resented all the major baseball awards being won by eastern players (or so it seemed), I kinda understand how folks out west feel. A lot of times, when you ask someone from Alberta or B.C. why they hate Toronto, they talk about having to watch Leafs' games on Saturday night. Given the team's play the last, oh, four decades, you can hardly blame them for that.
Of course, there's more to it. As nice as we are to visitors, and we're tremendous with foreign tourists for the most part, I honestly think more Canadians hate Toronto than Americans hate New York, and I don't quite know why. Maybe we're arrogant. Lord knows, there are lots of people in downtown Toronto who make fun of me for living north of Eglinton, let alone the people who live in Brampton or Port Hope.
Some of that hatred probably is deserved. But this is a wonderful city, filled with great folks who go out of their way (a lot of the time) to help. Sure, we don't let each other into our lanes on the 401 at rush hour. But I also see plenty of neighbourly behaviour on a day-to-day basis all over this city; the sort of things you'd associate with Leave it to Beaver TV shows.
Anyway, it all makes for some pretty interesting discussions on a Friday morning. Have a great weekend. And, remember to send out nice thoughts to all those lovely folks in Calgary and Saskatoon and Prince George.