‘Ottawa’s Own’ puts new spin on attracting visitors to Canada’s capital

Ottawa Tourism seeking nominations for second round of campaign
Randy Hogg stocks his products at local skateshop, Top of the World

For those tasked with promoting Ottawa to the world, images of the Parliament buildings and scenic Rideau Canal have traditionally been mainstays in the effort to bring more tourists to Ottawa.

While those iconic landmarks form a core part of Ottawa’s identity, many residents will attest that these sights only scratch the surface of the city’s vibrant culture.

To explore what makes Canada’s capital one of the world’s most liveable cities, Ottawa Tourism launched a new marketing campaign in February dubbed, “Ottawa’s Own.”

In a series of six videos, up-and-coming local artists, entrepreneurs and athletes are profiled and describe why they think Ottawa is a cool place to call home.

“The vision for the campaign is to show Ottawa in a new light,” says Beverley Carkner, Ottawa Tourism’s director of marketing and project lead on the Ottawa’s Own campaign.

Building on the success of the first round of videos, the organization is once again turning to residents to help share their stories about what makes their city such a compelling place to live, work, play and visit.

Specifically, the organization is asking the community to nominate subjects at OttawasOwn.ca to be profiled in the next phase of the campaign. Nominations close April 30.

“We know that there are a lot of great Ottawans out there,” says Carkner. “Having the community nominate people engages the public and makes us aware of people who are super special that we may not find otherwise.”

Changing perceptions

The Ottawa’s Own campaign was born out of the Ottawa Brand DNA project, a collaborative venture between Ottawa Tourism, the City of Ottawa, Invest Ottawa and several other local stakeholders. It sought to reveal not only outsider impressions of the city, but also what locals think about their hometown.

“Ottawans are extremely proud of their city, but they don’t often talk about it,” says Carkner of one of the study’s main findings.

A closer look at what initially might be thought of solely as a government centre reveals a city packed with artists, makers and adventure-seekers.

“It’s really looking at how they’ve embraced their passion and are really living it within Ottawa,” says Carkner of the Ottawa’s Own subjects.

Liz Mok of Moo Shu Ice Cream
Liz Mok of Moo Shu Ice Cream.

Among the first round of profiles is Randy Hogg, the founder of local lifestyle clothing brand Black Coffee Apparel & Goods. Hogg draws inspiration from tattoos, coffee culture, skateboarding and the great outdoors to create his unique clothing designs.

“From the design community to the coffee community to the fashion community, Ottawa is hungry to support local,” says Hogg in his Ottawa’s Own video.

Another subject, Liz Mok, speaks to the vibrant farm-to-table movement in the city. As the founder of Moo Shu Ice Cream, Mok incorporates flavours from local growers into the shop’s inventive flavours.

“The farmers’ market is a huge part of the Ottawa community,” says Mok in the opening of her video. “There’s just so much produce being grown within 30 minutes or an hour from here. It’s so hard not to be inspired by that.”

The campaign launched with a screening of the short videos at Ottawa’s historic Mayfair Theatre. It was an appropriate venue, given that Ottawa’s Own focuses on hidden gems in the city.

The campaign has already struck a chord in the city, with Ottawa Tourism fielding requests for tickets to attend the premiere of the next videos.

“The feedback has been extremely positive,” says Carkner. “People have been very supportive.”

View all six videos and nominate new subjects at OttawasOwn.ca.