"We'll Be Right Back After These...": History, Narrative, and the (Re-)Construction of Canadian Identity in Television Commercials

Riccardo Mauricio-Cardilli (r.cardilli@videotron.ca)
Communication Studies, Concordia University
September, 2008
 

Abstract

Canadian history and identity are bounded by an ongoing discussion of the civic difficulties that arise as a consequence of being made to represent a pluralist society. Establishing more widely accepted interpretations of memory and nation-building can positively influence this country’s sense of national character and collective identity. This study is a rhetorical examination of the cultural articulations in three commercial advertisements on television: Tim Horton’s Proud Fathers, Canadian Tire’s A Bike Story and Bell Canada’s Dieppe. Aside from the products and brand names these ads are designed to promote, their images of everyday vernacular experiences of Canadian families coupled with ethical tropes (pleasant surprises, thoughtful gestures, kind words) are reminders of the moral values characteristic of Canada’s past, present and, hopefully, its future. While each ad involves different representations of memory and Canada’s socio-political development, they all seek to constitute and isolate the proper ethical practices of Canadians that transcend all schismatic social categories.
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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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