Western Libraries

Canadian Advertising History - Preserving a Legacy

Written By: 

Advertising: "The Cave Art of the 20th Century"  Marshall McLuhan

      In the past the staff of the Johnston Library  created documents which have featured advertising websites and books chronicling advertising campaigns from the past. The "Bud" Johnston Library has also acquired a series of books dealing with advertising throughout the various decades.  Our Gallery of Graphic Design document provides access to advertising campaigns from 1930 to 1969 . A website following Vintage Advertising  also appeared - called Found in Mom's Basement. The Advertising Century document provided information about  Advertising Age chronicling the history of the American advertising industry with a special report titled "The Advertising Century."   See other Johnston Library documents on advertising. 

However, all of these reports did not encompass the advertising industry in Canada.

Caramilk Advertisement

 Many advertising agencies have been lax about building archives and much of the Canadian industry’s  heritage has been gathering dust in piecemeal personal collections.

Recently Pirate Toronto has donated a massive catalogue of about 50,000 pieces of advertising to McMaster University in Hamilton, creating the largest industry archive in Canada. Terry O'Reilly (Under the Influence  and  Age of Persuasionmade sure that his company, unlike others, kept its work dating back to its founding in 1990. Donated in June of 2011, the collection will become public Wed. Feb 29, 2012 and includes concept pitches, video and audio of casting sessions, sheet music and lyrics for jingles, and a wide swath of radio and TV commercials. Campaigns such as the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” series for Becel, early ads for mobile phones, and former prime ministers’ campaign ads are all part of the collection.  McMaster is hoping to digitize the collection in the near future.
Fortunately Pirate Toronto is not the only entity actively preserving Canadian advertising history. The Canadian Advertising Museum, a small online project made up of industry veterans, is working to build a Web-based archive for the Canadian industry. See advertisments through the decades 1940s  |  1950s  |  1960s  |  1970s  |  1980s  |  1990s

Terry O'Reilly 's Picks

Favourite Canadian ad campaigns:

Cadbury’s “Mona Lisa” TV spot – the only Canadian TV commercial to make it into the Clio Hall of Fame.

Molson’s famous “I Am Canadian” commercials.

Dove’s “Evolution,” which won in both the Film and Cyber categories at Cannes in 2007, and was the first Canadian campaign to snag two Grand Prix victories.

Bud Light’s “Good Dog,” a commercial that aired in the U.S. during Super Bowl XXXVIII but was created by a Canadian ad agency, Downtown Partners (Mr. O’Reilly’s agency, Pirate, also worked on it). Voted top commercial that year in the USA Today Super Bowl Ad Meter.

Susan Krashinsky  Globe and Mail Update Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012

See these other documents prepared by Johnston Library staff dealing with the subject of advertising:
Business Books with Pictures and Illustrations

Canadian advertising in action Keith J. Tuckwell. : Business

The selling game [videorecording] / written, produced and directed by Susan Teskey ; CBC Documentary Unit. : King's

A Datamonitor report assessing the Advertising Industry in Canada points out that:
The Canadian advertising industry had total revenue of $970.2 million in 2010, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.6% between 2006 and 2010.
The Food, Beverage & Personal/Healthcare segment was the industry's most lucrative in 2010, with total revenue of $210.4 million, equivalent to 21.7% of the industry's overall value.
The performance of the industry is forecast to accelerate, with an anticipated CAGR of 2.4% for the five year period 2010 - 2015, which is expected to drive the industry to a value of $1,091.7 million by the end of 2015.