Advertisements from the Federal Government of Canada


Canada 125

During 1992, the federal government produced a number of ads ostensibly designed to celebrate Canada Day. The following are a sample of them. They are each 60 seconds.

Canada 125 This one commemorates the Canadian pavillion at Expo '92 in Saville. (2.1 M)

Icons A girl singing, Terry Fox, the RCMP musical ride; all featured icons in this Canada 125 ad. (2.1 M)

UN Ranking One of the many Canada Day spots that uses a UN ranking to make claims about Canada's quality of life. (2.1 M)

Rick Hansen extolls the virtues of Canadian citizenship. (2.2 M)

Roberta Bondar talks about how great Canada looks from space. (2.1 M)

Kerrin Lee-Gartner discusses her gold medal. (2.1 M)


While not part of the Canada 125 campaign, Take it To Heart (2.2 M) displays all of the same messages. (note that this has poor audio and video).

Break Free, Health Canada

Health Canada spent $5 million in 1991 to persuade young people about the ill effects of smoking and alcohol. These two ads were from their "Break Free" campaign had virtually no effect in changing behaviour towards smoking, according to the department's own polling.

Morphing shows a female being transformed into a cigarette much to her friends horror (1.1 M)

All you need is you A male changes into a flask of alcohol in a bar (1.1 M)


Constitutional Advertising 

One of the all-time classics of government advertising, Flight aired in 1980 as a ill-formed and poorly made argument to support the federal government's patriation of the constitution. (1.1 M)

GST Advertising, 1990

The federal government spent $350 million on publicity, advertising and polling to change the public perception of their loathed Goods and Services Tax in 1990. According to their own polling, the advertising had little or no effect in changing perceptions about the tax. The corner-stone of the advertising was these four television ads.

GST Credit (1M)

GST and Seniors (1M)

GST and the Economy (1 M)

GST and You (1 M)

Nagano Olympics, 1998

This campaign cost $10 million. Its claim was that it offered athletes a venue to talk about citizenship. It would be difficult to not see these ads as an argument about the benefits of a united Canada. They are each one minute long.

Red, White, Dynamite (2.1 M)

One from the Heart (2.1 M)

Believe in Yourself (2.1 M)

Self Doubt (2.1 M)

Reaching for the Stars (2.1 M)

It's How you Play the Game (2.1 M)

Me Maude, You Jane (2.1 M)

Gun Legislation

Here is one of the federal government's latest on their controversial gun control legislation.

Guess what I got in the Mail? (500K)

 The Royal Canadian Air Farce parody plays on the implausibility of Guess what I got in the Mail. (1.8 M)

Health Reform

Prior to the federal election in 2000, the federal government advertised the importance of health care reform -- an important plank in the Liberal party platform.

Puzzle shows a young girl putting together a jigsaw puzzle. Notice the similarity in use of icons and framing to GST and the Economy .


Yes, we can?

Government spots often make a virtue out of the banal and make banal the virtuous. Here are three spots which take the complexities of job retraining, international competitiveness and citizen participation and reduce them to a jingoistic slogan.

Competition (1.6 M)

Job Training (1.6M)

Citizen Participation (1.6)


Veteran's Affairs

This ad provides a reminder of the role of Canadian veterans in Vimy Ridge. The black and white images coupled make it appear like a documentary, thus giving it greater gravitas.







I am Canadian. Though not a government ad, in 2000 this famous Molson ad symbolized the blurring between patriotic and commercial themes. (2.2M)