This Week in Northumberland, UK
EDMONTON - Tourism officials in northeastern England are both pleased and baffled by a new $25-million Alberta rebranding campaign that features a photo of children frolicking on one of its North Sea beaches.
While the tagline on the advertisement reads: "Alberta: Freedom to Create. Spirit to Achieve.", the Alberta government has confirmed the photo was taken near the English village of Bamburgh in Northumberland. The photo also appears in an Alberta promotional video that has been posted on YouTube.
Now, I will give the ad firm who came up with this some credit - it had never occurred to me to promote Alberta as a beach front tourism destination. And, in fairness, if you are going to promote Alberta as a beach-front tourism destination, you sure don't want to use pictures of any Alberta beaches because, well, there aren't a lot of nice ones. Certainly not as nice as that one in Northumberland anyways.
But, as is so often the case, the real joy in this is watching Team Stelmach spin. First up - Cindy Ady, famous for her work on the Idaho-Alberta Transboundary Task Force:
Tourism Minister Cindy Ady told reporters that her department wasn't involved in the rebranding campaign
Silly reporters. Assuming the Department of Tourism would handle a 25 million dollar tourism rebranding campaign.
But the real all-star spin doctor is Tom Olsen:
When the story about the controversial photo was first published earlier this week in an Edmonton newspaper, the Alberta government stood by the use of the images.
"There's no attempt to make people think that this is Alberta," Tom Olsen, a spokesman for Premier Ed Stelmach, told the Edmonton Journal.
Yes! What idiot would jump to the conclusion that a picture on a Tourism Alberta poster, with the word "ALBERTA" scrolled over it, was a picture of Alberta?
But Tom soon backed down, and was singing a different (albeit equally amusing) song yesterday:
However, in an interview yesterday, Mr. Olsen said the still advertisement was "an error" and was quietly yanked a few weeks ago. The Premier's office wasn't notified about the decision to pull it until yesterday afternoon, he explained.
Mr. Olsen said the government still supports using the image in the promotional video. "It's symbolic of the future children and the world," he said.
Symbolic of the future children and the world? I'm not even sure what that means...
In the words of NDP leader Brian Mason "Most lame spin ever".