Check Out This Beautiful Ad for Canadian Tourism by Anime Superstar Makoto Shinkai

Destination Canada reaches out to cartoon geeks

The director of Your Name also does content marketing. Destination Canada
Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Some experiences transcend language and culture.

One of those things is anime, the distinctive Japanese style of animation currently embodied by director Makoto Shinkai, whose 2016 hit film Your Name will soon be remade as a live-action movie by Star Wars director J. J. Abrams.

Another, apparently, is Canadian tourism.

Destination Canada, the Canadian government’s official tourism division, recently released this short by Shinkai. It’s an intimate portrait of a Japanese couple finding love across the Great White North.

This unusual film is the product of a content marketing strategy developed in partnership with Vancouver-based consultancy Modern Craft to attract international tourism.

“For 50 to 60 years, there have been a lot of legacy perceptions about Canada,” said Modern Craft partner John Ounpuu. “We used to call it the three Ms: moose, mountains and Mounties.”

The Modern Craft team wanted to shake those stereotypes by focusing on the passions of different demographics, and Japan happens to be one of the biggest markets for Canadian tourism along with the U.S. and China. Ounpuu said the team wanted to tell a simple story and make the Canadian winter “look warm and inviting versus cold and forbidding.” 

“The challenge here is that the Japanese market tends to come to Canada in summertime when things are really compressed,” said Ounpuu, adding that the team wanted to show that a trip to Canada in the winter can combine urban and rural experiences in both temperate and seasonal climates.

Anime was a natural format, he said, because it’s now mainstream. The film was produced by Shinkai’s own CoMix Wave Films in collaboration with a Destination Canada team based in Tokyo, and it has already proven popular among anime fans online.

The spot also features plenty of real-life Canadian attractions, from the iconic Vancouver sculpture “The Drop” to the downtown Toronto ice skating rink near the end of the ad.

@PatrickCoffee Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.