I Am Canadian
I Am Canadian was the slogan of Molson Canadian beer from 1994 until 1998 (via ad agencies Maclaren Lintas, then MacLaren McCann), and between 2000 and 2005 (by Bensimon Byrne). It was also the subject of a popular ad campaign centred on Canadian nationalism, the most famous examples of which are "The Rant" and "The Anthem". The ads aired in both English Canada and the United States. In 2005, shortly after Molson's merger with American brewer Coors, it announced it was retiring the "I Am Canadian" campaign.
In March 2000, using nationalism as a platform, the ad starred a man named Joe: an average Canadian, standing in a movie theatre, with a cinema screen behind him showing different images relating to Canadian culture. Joe proceeds to give a speech about what is it to be a Canadian and what it is not to be a Canadian, making particular efforts to distinguish himself both from common Canadian stereotypes of Americans ("I believe in peacekeeping, not policing") and common American stereotypes of Canadians ("I don't live in an igloo," "I say 'about,' not 'aboot'").
It was performed by Canadian actor Jeff Douglas and directed by an American, Kevin Donovan, but written by a Canadian, Glen Hunt. The commercial won an advertising industry Gold Quill award in 2001.
In 2002, John Robert Colombo included the Rant in the Penguin Treasury of Popular Canadian Poems and Songs. Colombo acknowledged that it was unusual to include the text of a beer commercial in a poetry collection, but emphasized that "the open-minded reader will respond to the power of the words that express a human need to affirm an identity in the face of ignorance and indifference," and compared it to the works of Christopher Smart, Ebenezer Elliot, and Vachel Lindsay.
The popularity of "I Am Canadian" in Canada led to many parodies of the advertisement. Several radio stations have produced provincial variations on the theme. These include I am an Albertan, I am a British Columbian, I am a Newfoundlander, and I Am Not Canadian, the last of which focused on a Quebec sovereigntist.
William Shatner performed his own variation on the idea in a Just for Laughs appearance. He announced to the world: "I am not a Starfleet commander, ...or T.J. Hooker." The rant continues, making fun of Trekkies and his own typecasting as James T. Kirk.
This ad features famous moments from Canadian history (including the pounding of the Last Spike and the raising of the Maple Leaf flag), as well as a variety of average Canadians (including William Shatner), singing a song extolling the virtues of Canada and its citizens.
- Robert M. Seiler, "Selling Patriotism/Selling Beer: The case of the 'I AM CANADIAN!' Commercial," American Review of Canadian Studies (spring 2002) v32#1 pp 45-66 online
- The Penguin treasury of popular Canadian poems and songs, edited by John Robert Colombo, published 2002 by Penguin Books, ISBN 0-14-301326-2