A Canadian Inferiority Complex.

Do Canadian creatives have an inferiority complex?

I heard this more than once while in Toronto. But if such an affliction results in smarter, focused and more innovative work, as I was told it does, inferiority doesn’t sound like such a bad thing to suffer from.

Why the complex?

First, there is a limited amount of work in Canada and definitely not enough work sitting around for any team to “phone it in.” Most clients are in Toronto, or surrounding areas such as Mississauga or Ajax. Not all, of course. Smaller client bases across the country provide for industries in Montreal, Vancouver, Calgary and everywhere in between. But the bulk of available client work resides in the GTA, making Toronto the epicenter of the Canadian industry. With a small national population to boot, each shop in Canada has no choice but to produce their highest quality work at every opportunity.

Not only is there a limited amount of work, but budgets also tend to be smaller. Without the resources to bolster an idea with extravagant production or a celebrity name, the idea must be arresting and compelling on its own. Working on a shoestring budget lends itself to focused and nimble ideas.

High-quality, focused, nimble work creates results. The Cassies showcase the most effective work in Canada annually, and Canada took home 18 Lions at the Cannes International Festival of Creativtiy this year (check out a video of Marketing Magazine Canada’s recap of Canada’s best performing ads below). Award winners do not always designate the best work in the industry. But competition on a global stage with an inferior self-perception does motivate creatives (and the collective agency team producing the goods) to work harder to be noticed.

The overall creative product in Canada was described to me as “better work per capita.” South Africans described similar motivations in their work as they step up on an international stage, and I look forward to discussing motivations and challenges as The Saturn Return Project continues this journey throughout four more countries.

Are you compelled by the desire to stand out against the States, Europe or elsewhere? What gets your creative fire going? Join the conversation in the comments below, via Facebook or Twitter, or share a link to lengthier thoughts from your own blog/forum.

To further inspire your thoughts and perspective, read through Alan’s Gee perspective from Cannes 2011 here or watch Marketing Magazine’s Cannes recap:

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