Let the memes begin: CIRA creates distinctly Canadian stock art

The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) has come up with a distinctly Canadian take on the “Distracted Boyfriend” meme that remains an enduring favourite of the internet.

The original piece of stock art from Shutterstock, officially known as “disloyal man walking with his girlfriend and looking amazed at another seductive girl,” has been used as visual shorthand for everything from youth favouring socialism over capitalism, to choosing a nap over “multiple pressing matters and responsibilities,” and preferring a $30 pad thai delivered to your door over the groceries purchased yesterday.

CIRA’s version, which bears the decidedly tongue-in-cheek title “Hockey player checks out lumberjack while woman in Canadian tuxedo looks on in disbelief,” is one of approximately 75 stock images—culled from an original group of more than 500—the organization has created to encourage Canadians to add a little Canada to the web.

Other royalty-free images in the series include “Colleagues chat over ketchup chips,” “Hockey player eats ketchup chips at meeting,” and “Lumberjack and hockey player discuss quarterly numbers” (see a selection of our favourites below).

“I’m sure everyone’s seen standard stock photos like ‘Woman looking at cellphone’ or ‘Man at laptop’ and these get used frequently,” says Spencer Callaghan, communications and content manager for the CIRA in Ottawa. “We wanted to put a Canadian spin on it and have a little bit of fun.”

The goal though is serious: Generate awareness within a low interest category, and position “.ca” as a viable alternative to the more widely known “.com” extension. “When someone is in need of a domain name, we want them to remember that .ca is a thing and that it means Canada. That is something they want,” says Callaghan.

The images were deliberately crafted to range from “mildly funny to straight-up meme-able” and were developed with social sharing in mind. “We’re intentionally being cheeky and highly stereotypical.”

The CIRA has stepped up its efforts to raise the profile of the .CA  domain in recent months, including Facebook ads, YouTube pre-roll and a partnership with the satirical site The Beaverton. 

In September it partnered with Toronto’s Giants & Gentlemen on its first-ever TV campaign “Don’t be a traitor” which featured a group of enforcers—known internally as the “Domain Squad”—cracking down on people who failed to use a .CA domain name when registering their website.

“Our leadership team made a bold move to say that we were going to take it up one more level, and really start to get the word out to Canadians about the value of being Canadian online and choosing a .CA domain name,” says Callaghan. “That’s why you’re seeing so much more from us.”






(Photos courtesy of the Canadian Internet Registry Authority)





Chris Powell