Building a Cleaner Future for Canada By Kyle Campbell October 11, 2012 In 2009 Edmonton based advertising agency, Calder Bateman, launched a campaign to rebrand Alberta. It was promptly cut short. Research at the time showed us that our brand was in desperate need of such a campaign. Little is known about Alberta worldwide, and within the nation of Canada citizens hold the perception that we are short on compassion, open mindedness and tolerance. Research also showed we are viewed as environmentally irresponsible. While some of those stereotypes may ring true for some Albertans, it is unfair that our province is viewed this way. An effective rebranding campaign could be extremely influential in changing Alberta’s image. I have explored the research done to uncover reasons why I feel the campaign in 2009 fell short, and offer my own solution to change Canada’s perception of Alberta, and unify us as a province. In 2003 the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVA) commissioned an ad agency to solve their problem with dwindling tourism revenue. This proved to be an incredible investment as the campaign they made has lasted for a decade and changed how the world sees Las Vegas. “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” redefined the Las Vegas brand. It is a strong testament to the effectiveness of rebranding efforts. Similarly, Alberta needs a rebranding but we face different stereotypes and perceptions than Las Vegas, and we are not the destination that they are. To better explore the cause of Canada’s negative perceptions of Alberta I explored the research done by Harris Decima in 2009. The results showed that Alberta was perceived to be full of opportunity and a great place to work and do business. The Calder Bateman campaign in 2009 was a result of this research. The campaign used the tagline “freedom to create, spirit to achieve”. Though research showed this had “strong potential for positive reaction”1 the
Harris Decima, 2009 http://alberta.ca/albertacode/documents/2009BrandResearchSummary.pdf
campaign fell flat and didn’t resonate in the minds of Albertans. I feel this was due to multiple reasons. The campaign may have been untimely due to our economic rough spot, and many unemployed Albertans were likely frustrated with the idea they were given the “spirit to achieve”. The campaign also may not have been fully realized because it was put on hold and it often takes time for a campaign to truly set in. Additionally I feel it could have been ineffective because it didn’t necessarily address the uncertainties other provinces have about us. My brainstorming resulted in a new foundation for the Alberta rebranding, the theme: “building a cleaner future for Canada”. It can be difficult to change ingrained perceptions with advertising if there are multiple issues being addressed. In this situation I decided a focused approach would be more effective and lend itself to a more meaningful message, so I chose to focus on just two of the misconceptions. The tagline, “building a cleaner future for Canada”, deals with the perceived disregard for the environment and perceived self-centeredness of Albertans, while still maintaining that we are a community of leaders. Though it doesn’t have the same ring as “what happens in Vegas”, it defines us and is a base on which to build our image. It is a stance Premier Redford already seems to be taking. When other Canadians think of us as conceited, they may not be aware that Alberta is economically driving Canada with our work in the oil patch. Even though that work is assumed to be environmentally irresponsible, I don’t think people realize how much we are doing “to move the world towards a clean energy future”2. While Albertans are proud leaders, we are also part of team Canada, and are working for something for everyone to enjoy. As we saw with Las Vegas, an effective rebranding can change not just the image of a region, but give its residents a sense of unification. Alberta is different from Vegas, being much larger and more diverse, but similar as well because we are a destination and a brand. Although the campaign launched in 2009 fell short, now that we are more economically prosperous it may be a great time to reconsider
Government of Alberta, 2012 http://oilsands.alberta.ca/cleanenergystory.html
rebranding. Looking at the negative perceptions of Alberta in the Harris Decima survey led me to believe that the tagline â€œbuilding a cleaner future for Canadaâ€? would be an ideal base for the campaign. With a movement like this, Albertans might be able to demonstrate leadership and be recognized for who we really are.