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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Westman ignored

“Welcome to the middle of nowhere, that puts you in the centre of everything. We can’t wait to show you around.”

— The words to one of four new commercials

by Travel Manitoba.

Travel Manitoba unveiled a series of new tourism advertising spots last December that feature Winnipeg’s arts and culture scene, as well as colourful nature shots of the North, polar bears, beluga whales and fly fishing. There’s apparently another that will feature the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights as well.

And they all come with the new slogan, “Manitoba: Canada’s heart beats.”

The commercials were produced by Winnipeg-based McKim with Frank Films and Build Films, and the ads were set to air in the U.S., northwestern Ontario, Alberta and Manitoba.

Travel Manitoba’s campaign budget for 2013-14 was $2.4 million, according to a report by Global News. This new slogan has replaced Manitoba Time as the Crown corporation’s new slogan. CTV News reports the ads were to be marketed to a large audience, including people watching the Junos and the Sochi Olympics.

To be fair, the film work is beautiful to watch, and certainly provides outsiders who are not familiar with the province a new view of the Keystone Province than perhaps they had before.

It’s too bad they failed to get a camera out to western Manitoba though, as, once again it seems this corner of the province has been ignored. Brandon has some excellent cultural festivals, thanks in large part to the many newcomers who now call this city home.

And while we certainly don’t want to take anything away from Churchill and other parts of northern Manitoba, western Manitoba can be equally as beautiful and interesting.

They also seemed to have overlooked the fact that Manitoba is covered in ice and snow for about six months every year — but we digress.

As a side note, in case you think these ads feel familiar in some way, CBC Manitoba pointed out yesterday this latest tourism campaign is startlingly reminiscent of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Find Yourself campaign which started in 2006.

Indeed, the music, the style and the pacing of each commercial bear an uncanny resemblance to the Atlantic province’s ads, which have won numerous national and international awards.

“I’m not surprised they’re imitating us,” Terry French, Newfoundland and Labrador’s minister of tourism, culture and recreation told CBC. “That’s what people do when they think you’re getting an edge. Our brand is well established … [and] strong enough to weather it and we’re very proud. I can’t blame the rest of the country for following our lead. Our successes [with this] are well documented.”

Sure, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And we have to believe Manitoba’s Minister of Tourism, Culture, Heritage, Sport and Consumer Protection, Ron Lemieux, was sincere when he said that the government “wanted to get it right.” Copying an already successful ad campaign is perhaps one way to do that.

But we can’t shake the feeling that this province just can’t seem to come up with its own good ideas. We have to copy another province’s success without finding our own path. With all the talented folk who reside in this province, that’s really too bad.

And as far as slogans go, while it’s not as ridiculous as the provincial slogan Spirited Energy, or as hokey as It’s Manitoba time, Canada’s Heart Beats is still a little lame. It sounds like they were trying to use the word heartland without actually using it. One Internet commenter on the Winnipeg Sun website suggested that Canada’s Heartbeat might have been a better fit.

Whatever. With all this rebranding and sloganeering, it’s a wonder that Manitobans have any identity left.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 21, 2014

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“Welcome to the middle of nowhere, that puts you in the centre of everything. We can’t wait to show you around.”

— The words to one of four new commercials

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“Welcome to the middle of nowhere, that puts you in the centre of everything. We can’t wait to show you around.”

— The words to one of four new commercials

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