Can things get any worse for Alberta’s new branding initiative? After taking a lot of flak about the slogan “Alberta: freedom to create. Spirit to achieve” and even more flak about the price tag, $25 million, it’s been discovered one of the photos used in the campaign isn’t even from Alberta.
Today Edmonton Journal columnist Paula Simons told the story about the latest chapter in Alberta’s ill-fated rebranding. It’s an interesting story. You wonder how, or if, it could get any worse for the Alberta government.
How did it get worse? One of the photos they used in their campaign was of Northumberland beach in England near Bamburgh Castle; quite a famous beach.
Sure, it’s not the end of the world, and really, it’s funny, depending on whether you’re in government or not, but it sure doesn’t help Alberta’s PR efforts. It seems sort of… small time.
They say that any publicity is good publicity, but Alberta’s had plenty of bad publicity these days. I’m wondering when Edmonton PR company Calder Bateman’s $25 million campaign is going to start generating positive results for the province.
I’ll cut Calder Bateman some slack though. They’ve really got an uphill battle to try and rebrand Alberta. The oilsands aren’t exactly the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and every ecologically-conscious person on Earth seems to have the oilsands as a target. It’s hard to fight that. You can see the oilsands from space though; so that’s something.
One thing is obvious: doing PR for Alberta is not easy! You have to be aware of every little detail, like race. Yes, now that’s become an issue. I mean, I don’t really think it’s an issue, but somebody raised it, so now it is.
Paula Simons brought up the observation that there are few, if any, “ethnic” faces in the promotional video.
Nobody’s denying that Alberta has a rich cultural heritage and is made up of a diverse ethnic population. Dropping in some video from any one of Alberta’s many cultural festivals would have proven that. Just wait for the “racist” labels to start flowing now.
Now Alberta’s PR efforts are damned if they do and damned if they don’t with Paula Simons suggesting:
“We shouldn’t include token “minority” faces in our promotional video because that’s the “politically correct” thing to do. We should include them because they represent the rich reality of contemporary Alberta. We should be celebrating and promoting our authentic cultural diversity because it’s what makes us unique.”
So now if any promotional videos include Alberta’s minorities, they’ll be pandering. If they don’t, they’re racist. It’s a rare day when I feel sympathy for politicians, but today I do. I can respect their desire to rebrand Alberta and show the world what a wonderful place Alberta is. Unfortunately, the whole exercise has just blown up in their face.
Rather than spending $25 million on rebranding the province, they should be focusing some serious effort on making the whole oilsands project more environmentally friendly. The whole operation has a huge carbon footprint (it uses massive amounts of natural gas and other fuels), its huge toxic tailings ponds are leaking and killing ducks and it uses very large amounts of fresh water (which ends up in the toxic tailings ponds). From what I’ve heard, there’s also a great deal of air pollution that results from the operation too.
I can see why the $25 million rebranding initiative was done. It just seemed like the easier way to go. They must be thinking otherwise now.