CIRA goes wild for its latest campagin

The Canadian Internet Registry Authority is launching the latest instalment in its quirky “Make your website true north strong” campaign, in which a group of Park Ranger-esque characters known as the Canadian Domain Squad try to convince small business owners to register their website using a .ca domain rather than .com.

The latest work follows the Domain Squad into the Canadian wilderness, where they help Canadian business owners hunt (and fish) for new customers using their products and a .ca domain. Directed by Merchant’s Jason Jeffrey, the two 30-second spots, “Fishing Bait” and “Birdman of Prey,” show the owners of “Mary’s Maple Syrup” and “David’s Poutine” using decidedly unconventional tactics to land new customers.

“Fishing Bait,” for example, shows a member of the Domain Squad helping Mary fly-fish for customers using a bottle of her company’s maple syrup as bait. In a fun visual, we see a the customer she’s caught breaking the surface of the water downriver as Mary reels him in.

In “Birdman of Prey,” the owner of David’s Poutine ventures into the woods to attract a new customer, placing a container of poutine on a gloved hand and holding it out like a falconer. We hear and see a rustle in the trees, followed by a shot of a man perched on the business owner’s outstretched hand. “Wouldn’t have left his nest for a .com” says the Domain Squad member.

“While the scenarios in the commercials are comically farfetched, the depicted metaphorical lengths business owners go to attract their target audience isn’t,” said Alanna Nathanson, co-founder and chief creative officer of Giants & Gentleman, which conceived the creative strategy two years ago. “It’s an incredibly competitive and cluttered online environment out there, and we wanted to position .ca as a key tool in the Canadian business owners’ tackle box.”

CIRA credits the two-year-old campaign with a 13% increase in unaided recall of CIRA among the country’s small business owners. The company also reported a record 15% year-over-year increase in .ca domain name registrations for the 12 months ended in August.

The two spots will run on TV in Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal from Oct. 4 to Nov. 14, joined online by previous executions running as pre-roll and in social environments. The online portion of the campaign is designed to intercept small business owners at every stage of establishing their online presence.

CIRA has also signed on as an official sponsor of the 16th season of the CBC’s popular pitch show Dragon’s Den, with the Domain Squad set to appear on an Oct. 21 episode.

“As Canada begins to recover from the pandemic, it’s been heartening to see so many businesses pivoting to an online strategy to thrive,” said Paul Sarkozy, director of marketing for the CIRA in Ottawa. “Through our campaign, we intend to spread the word that having a .ca domain can have a beneficial impact on the success of your Canadian business.”

Chris Powell