Friday, April 24, 2009

This Week in Northumberland, UK

What I love most about Ed Stelmach is how his government seems drawn to the silly little screw-up stories. The latest example:

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".

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  • Makes Bush and Cheney look good!

    By Blogger JimTan, at 6:50 p.m.  

  • Seems nothing is "real" in Conservative land - image only whether true or false.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:58 p.m.  

  • Nothing can shock me from that province... People still keep voting for the louts... At some point the public needs to figure out, "hmmm... my constant support of these yahoos is a reflection on ME"...

    Then again... what do they care? Long as cars run on gas (oh, wait a minute... that's ending?)...

    When I was getting bashed by Cons in Alberta (while knocking doors), I was constantly reminded of the phrase, "Be nice to the people you meet along the way up as they may be connected to the ass you have to kiss on the way back down..." Hard core NeoCon Albertans spent the last few years gloating and intimidating the rest of Canada... Now, with the economic slow-down and the uncertainty of the future of oil, they should get ready for the "crash"... Should be interesting.

    By Blogger WesternGrit, at 7:28 p.m.  

  • It's funny because this is such a non-issue but by not quietly apologizing in the first place the gov't has made themselves look very dumb.

    It wasn't a tourism re-brand, but a complete GOA rebrand along with a new provincial slogan 'Freedom to create, spirit to achieve,' (pfft), which is why Ady didn't have anything to with it (it was the PAB). The image in question was initially presented in the brand document in reference to Alberta's impact on the global scene, which I think is appropriate. The problem started when they took the image and slapped it on the GOA homepage mistakenly. Really, in the scope of everything else that goes on around here, it's incredibly inconsequential, but the PAB and Olsen just couldn't admit fault and for half a day they looked really stupid. They finally issued a candid (relatively speaking) apology late yesterday afternoon.

    Spin doctors take note, occasionally just telling the truth works wonders.

    By Anonymous eh, at 7:38 p.m.  

  • That is the laugh out loud funniest Canadian politics story in a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 p.m.  

  • That is the laugh out loud funniest Canadian politics story in a while.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:23 p.m.  

  • I run a tourism information centre in Alberta, true story, and I can't imagine how much harm this has done to our image. So I decided to fix it.

    If we sell enough tickets, we can afford to build it, right?

    By Blogger Christian Davis, at 11:26 p.m.  

  • It's symbolic of the future children and the worldIn the future, children will be given spin doctor implants to prevent these kind of mistakes.

    By Anonymous The Invisible Hand, at 1:04 a.m.  

  • It amazes me how people can't be more open and honest about the little things. I can see Nixon wanting to keep mum about a break-in, but why is this even worth spinning about? Oh, politicians.... you suck, yet maybe we're too hard on you.

    Maybe we should make it "okay" to admit trivial mistakes, create a "safe space" for the political ruling classes to confess their sillier oversights. Perhaps a CBC talk show, the House, but televised, and hosted by a psychotherapist.

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 11:03 a.m.  

  • I agree, it's the spin attempts that make this such a telling tale. Apparently we, the average citizen, are seen as being stupid and easy to manipulate. Shame.

    By Blogger Christian Davis, at 3:36 p.m.  

  • This would have been a pretty great post if you were talking about a "Tourism Alberta" campaign ad. Too bad it was an Alberta provincial rebranding ad (that had nothing to do with tourism). Oh well, what can you expect from a Grit. No wonder you guys are such fantastic electoral losers.

    By Blogger David S, at 2:31 a.m.  

  • nice work! i love it

    By Anonymous Data recovery software, at 4:35 a.m.  

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