To increase penetration in their home countries, ccTLD registries must win customers away from .com.  The argument made to this effect is usually along the lines of, “Show pride in your country by using the local ccTLD.”

Canada’s CIRA has taken a different approach with their most-recent advertising campaign, choosing to attack .com directly.  While some space is given to the comparative advantages of .ca, the bulk of the messaging amounts to a criticism of Canadian end users that select .com over .ca.

“Don’t Be a Traitor,” is the sentence that greets visitors to the campaign’s home page.  This attention-grabbing slogan breaks down into a few different arguments:

— The usual national pride argument outlined above and in greater detail in a recent post about a similar campaign

— CIRA gives back to the Canadian internet community, whereas .com (Verisign) has no such committment to Canada

— Canadian customers prefer to buy from websites using a .ca domain

None of this is too controversial, but the language used does border on inflammatory:

— “Don’t be selfish”

— “If you choose a .com, you’re only hurting yourself.”

— “Maybe you should ask yourself: Do I actually love my country?”

— “Are you a registered .com offender?”

The risk in such strong messaging is that it will reach a .com registrant in Canada, who will be offended by being called a traitor and avoid .ca as a result.  CIRA is apparently betting that there will be fewer of these vengeful Canadians and more whose domain name decision is influenced by either the pride or shame imparted by their campaign.

Whether this works out is anybody’s guess, but we applaud the effort.  The decision to register .com is too-often driven by inertia, so a strong message is needed to convince .com-loyalists to even consider their local ccTLD as an alternative.

In addition to social media and search ads, CIRA will be running television commercials in the Toronto area in September and November.  We’ll update this post if registration numbers in this period are made available and suggest that the campaign either was or was not successful.

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