I am an Albertan. I know I live in BC now, but I am definitely an Albertan. Edmonton is my home. I grew up in Slave Lake. I spent Easters in Kananaskis and May Long Weekends in Jasper. Alberta is my home and I love it.
Recently, my lovely home province suffered a bit of a PR ... snafu. Alberta launched a new branding campaign: Alberta - Freedom To Create. Spirit To Achieve.
The campaign was developed by the Government of Alberta and Calder Bateman. (A communications agency in Edmonton)
Sure, whatever. Really, I don't remember our last slogan, and this one doesn't stick out more than that. And I know I am not the only one that sees 'Slberta'. It is the same problem that existed with the previous brand - you couldn't tell it was an 'A'.
I was totally ready to ignore the whole thing all together. I really didn't care that much.
Until I found out it was a $25 million campaign.
Yup, you read that right. $25 million campaign.
Sure it's over three years. No big deal. Especially when for the first time in 15 years, the province will be running a deficit.
No big deal. NOT!
At this point I got pretty annoyed. $25 million for a branding campaign and three-year rollout?
Then came the kicker, the campaign features images that aren't of Alberta!
Listen, I know the Province of Alberta. I know how beautiful and majestic it. I know how many amazing pictures could be provided courtesy of Alberta's background.
These are things I know.
But apparently, the Alberta Government and Calder Bateman don't know.
Because they used an image from England's North Umberland region.
And this story gets so much worse.
So, the Premier goes ahead and spins the slip as best he could. "It's more broad than Alberta ... because we do care, not only about Alberta environment but the world."
Through all of my irritation, I had been following this screw-up through blogs and online news.
And finally, I decided to take my concerns to the "Your Alberta Blog".
While my exact words escape me now, the comment I tried to leave mentioned how these were stock photos used, and stock photos always have location information on them and that Calder Bateman should be apologizing as well.
So, I posted my comment, interested to see if there was going to be any follow-up comments, you know, the usual bloggy geeky stuff.
I check my email and there is one from David Sands, with the Public Affairs Bureau of the Government of Alberta.
This is what it read:
Hi Irisdias;Wha? I have never posted a comment on a blog that has been rejected. I am not that person.
You concern over the use of stock photos is fair comment
and I'd like to post it. However as the blog moderator I am uncomfortable with
your singling out Calder Bateman as blameworthy for something that the PAB
If you would repost your comment without that (undeserved) aspect, I
will approve it. Thank you for considering this.
Moderator - YourAlbertaBlog
So, I emailed back:
I am a little unclear as to why the PAB believes that blame being place on
Calder Bateman is undeserved - are they not the group that developed this $25
As the government put this contract out to tender, and the tax payers of Alberta paid for the $25 million price tag, I expect some accountability on the side of the contractor, as I am sure many more Albertans do. It seems absurd that the PAB is shouldering all the blame, when blame should be distributed to deserving parties, including Calder Bateman.
In my head, it made sense.
Sorry Iris, to be clear, the buck stops here, period. We will not use
our own forum to publish the suggestion that someone else is responsible for our
Again, you raise a point regarding stock photos that is
worthy and fair public discussion, and I'd rather not "lose" the chance to
put that up because you and I don't agree on the fairness or
appropriateness of your ancillary point.
I'll watch the blog site to see if you can reconcile my concern with your
point of view and promptly post your comment if so.
Ok, so now I am really annoyed and now we are here. To this blog post. About
freaking time hey?
WARNING: RANT AHEAD
Calder Bateman should shoulder some of the blame. They should apologize - and please, do so in a Google-able way. They are an Albertan company - they should just know better.
How many other shots in this campaign aren't from Alberta? Does anyone know? Didn't they think they could capture as impressive of a shot within the Alberta borders? Or by not using stock photos? The North Umberland shot was almost definitely NOT done by some Albertan dude, who got flewn over to the UK to get the shot.
Could the partnership of the Government of Alberta and Calder Bateman not come up with something more ... I don't know, authentic? Something that highlights Alberta, Albertans and Alberta talent.
I would welcome a list of the photographers and locations used in every shot of this brand.
I generally get over this shit really quickly, rant for a second, next day it's gone. But this has been a few days now and well, here I am. Blogging about it.
I had to though. PAB didn't want to share my comments in their entirety.