Art fusion collaborations have proven so effective and have become so familiar around the world that savvy bloggers have begun to report new ones as ‘collabs’. But so far, very few have originated in Canada. Strange. Is it possible Canadian marketers aren’t thinking big enough for their brands? Or perhaps we think it has to be done on such a large scale as to be unaffordable for our smaller budgets (compared to the US). The former would be a shame and the latter would be incorrect.
Canada has some of the most unique brands, ripe for the often jaw-dropping benefits of art fusion. Imagine for instance, if a company like Tilley Endurables were to collaborate with an unexpected artist to reinvent one of their iconic hats in a limited edition release. Could they make a huge splash with their current clientele and attract a whole new younger, more urban audience all at once? Why, yes. Yes they could.
Could revered parka maker, Canada Goose get the social media world buzzing if they were to collaborate with a high profile film director or musician? Absolutely. Could coveted yoga gear maker, Lululemon create a frenzy of desire by collaborating with a hot textile designer to create a limited edition hoodie or yoga mat? Hell yes.
So why are we not seeing these and other large and small collaborations for our already culturally relevant Canadian brands? As artists and brands around the world have proven many times over, inventing or reinventing a product or service in a limited-edition release is not only an economical, but very effective way of getting attention or testing the market with something new. And as we’ve seen with the Cambridge Satchel Company, even a small, upstart brand can use art fusion to catapult themselves to top of mind for much less than a traditional advertising campaign.
So far, the best known art fusion collaboration born in Canada has been Roots x Douglas Coupland in 2010. The Canadian author of “generation x” expanded Roots’ brand both socially and culturally by offering a new angle on Canadian identity beyond beavers and the Canadian wilderness.