In the U.S., Canada only makes news due to unwelcome winter chills that drift south or as smoke from forest fires blankets U.S .cities for days. Under normal circumstances, Canada is politely ignored in the U.S. But now, Canada is “Politely Kicking Ass.”

Canadians, tired of being blamed for bringing the cold weather to the U.S., built a series of Hollywood billboards that use cheeky messages to celebrate Canadian filmmakers. A few months ago, a series of billboards were erected near L.A.’s Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, in the heart of Tinseltown. The billboards were part of a campaign, launched last February to highlight the abundance of Canadian talent in the U.S. entertainment industry.

The campaign, called “MADE Better,” was sponsored by the Canada Media Fund (CMF) and Telefilm Canada, and was created with the agencies Rethink and Torque Strategies, both from Toronto, and 123w from Vancouver.

Playing off Canadians’ reputation for being well-mannered, one of the billboards shared the message that Canadians are “Politely Kicking Ass. (Sorry.),” while another celebrated some of Canada’s buzziest directors via the message “Need Direction? Look North” with a visual of four directors’ chairs emblazoned with the names of (Denis) Villeneuve, (Sarah) Polley, (James) Cameron, and (Domee) Shi.

“Canada is having a moment in Hollywood with so many Canadian storytellers enjoying huge success right now. We thought we’d have a bit of fun with it, and we love that people are sharing the billboards online and it’s generating buzz,” said Valerie Creighton, CEO of CMF.

“As proud Canadians, we are reinforcing and celebrating the strength of our talent in the screen-based industry,” added Francesca Accinelli, CEO of Telefilm Canada. “Through the fun and effective placements of these billboards in L.A., we honor our fellow Canadians’ successes and remind our friends down south and around the world that Canadians have good reasons to play cheeky.”

Said Mathieu Chantelois, executive vice president of Marketing and Public Affairs, CMF: “MADE Better is about giving us a chance to appreciate the incredible talent we have in this country and feel good about it — maybe even get a goosebump or two.” He then concluded: “Canadians have been calling the shots in Hollywood for a long time and it’s time to spread the word about the outstanding entertainment we create, whether it’s in our country or anywhere in the world.”  While some Canadians are cozying up to Hollywood, others are readying for a fight in the nearby (Silicon) Valley. “Canadians will not be bullied by billionaires in the U.S.,” said Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on July 5, 2023 following Canadian legislation passed earlier that compelled digital platforms to compensate media outlets for links. On August 1, 2023, Meta Platforms started to block access to news links for Facebook and Instagram users in Canada. This action prompted Canadian Heritage (cultural) Minister Pascale St-Onge to complain since Meta currently faces no legal obligations because regulations have not yet been drafted.

For its part, Google reported that it would remove links to Canadian news articles from its search function for Canadian users once Canadian authorities start enforcing the legislation.

At the same time the U.S. government criticized Canada’s plans to impose a three percent digital-service tax starting next year. This move would buck a global consensus on restructuring international taxation.

(By Dom Serafini)

Audio Version (a DV Works service)

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