The marketing company Rethink has come up with this edgy branding campaign for the community of Bowen Island.

Welcome to Vancouver Island: or not

Is the time ripe for Vancouver Island communities to add a bit of brutal honesty to their marketing efforts?

Bowen Island apparently believes in the promoter’s axiom of “there’s no such thing as bad publicity.”

The community, located a 20-minute ferry ride offshore of Greater Vancouver recently approved a brand campaign with such pointed slogans as “Bowen Island: tell your friends it’s awful here” and “Welcome to Bowen Island, don’t forget to leave.”

The point was to do something edgy that captured the Island’s unique character and fierce protectiveness while emphasizing its identity as an amazing secret that its residents would love to keep.

Not unexpectedly, the campaign hasn’t been met with universal applause. Commentary on a CBC website story reporting on it includes words like “ignorant,” “typical,” “cliquey,” and “insular,” though it’s not entirely clear if the posters are describing the campaign or the island itself.

posterThat said, this initiative appears to be doing exactly what marketing campaigns are supposed to do: get noticed. And it sparked the obvious question: could Vancouver Island communities benefit from the same type of unconventional thinking? Should we try marketing that embraces our perceived flaws?

Consider how more conventional thought hasn’t exactly shown a lot of success in giving Vancouver Island communities brands that stick out.

“Discover the possibilities,” “Meet and stay,” “Getting here is easy,” and “Wildly sophisticated, economically unconventional.” If any of these existing slogans immediately made you think of the Comox Valley, you are far more attentive than most.

Thank the marketing gods for finally coming up with “Better choices, better future,” because, really, you can’t get much more uniquely Comox Valley than that.

Right?

So with that in mind, are we ready for Duncan: “You’ve seen the highway strip, how could it possibly get worse?”

Or Port Alberni: “Once you’re over the Hump, it’s all downhill from there!”

Or Qualicum: “Those under 50 need not apply.”

The area around the capital would seem to have all kinds of potential for this kind of campaign: “So special we need 13 town councils to make it work,” or “There’s life north of the Malahat?” or how about that timeless classic “Our (effluent) don’t stink.”

Out on the west coast we could go with Tofino: “Beers, bongs, bears, beards, boards, and buckets of yuppies” and Ucluelet: “If you can’t afford Tofino, we’re right next door!”

posterLake Cowichan could be up front with the tourist crowd by saying: “We want your money, not your drunken tubing and speedboat racing.” Chemainus: “We may roll up the sidewalks at 5 p.m., but those pictures on the walls are there around the clock!” Ladysmith: “Avoid the crowds, visit any day except Light Up!” The North Island: “Because real men don’t do wi-fi.”

The good folks in Campbell River could tweak their well-established existing slogan into something a little more modern. How about: “The where-the-salmon-used-to-be capital of the world.”

The Hub City, Harbour City and Bathtub Capital monikers all created decent traction for Nanaimo. But if we really wanted to reflect how it is perceived, we could try: “Where the malls are!” or “As fun and friendly as our city council!” or even “More fentanyl than you can shake a syringe at!”

And it doesn’t have to stop at the community level.

For a more regional Island-wide campaign, we could try: “A pot shop already on every corner, and it’s not even legal yet!” or “Come for the craft brews, stay for the Lucky!” or “Old trees, hug one while you still can!”

Or we could just play it low-key and safe and do what Merville did: simply go with something informative. The slogan for this Comox Valley hamlet is the unforgettable “Merville: named for Merville, France.”

How about “Vancouver Island: Like Vancouver, but with less cars, less pretension, more Island and a better sense of humour.”

It just might work.

(For a look at some of the existing Vancouver Island marketing slogans, click here.)

Follow me on Twitter @JohnMcKinleyBP

 

Just Posted

VIDEO: North Island Peewee Eagles unleash avalanche of goals against Peninsula in semi-final showdown

The two teams squared up on Sunday morning at the Chilton Regional Arena in Port McNeill.

North Island Seniors Housing Foundation takes the next step towards getting Trustee Road land

Seniors rejoice, Port Hardy council is very much in favour of helping… Continue reading

Port Hardy Volleyball club requests funding from Port Hardy council

The sport of Volleyball is alive and well in the North Island,… Continue reading

Should aquaculture programs be offered at North Island College in Port Hardy?

“I think it would be very timely to have an aquaculture program”

Island Health issues press release regarding Port Alice Health Centre service changes

Island Health will be hosting a community meeting in Port Alice Feb. 20 at 6 p.m. in the rec centre.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. athlete takes home gold in freestyle aerials at Canada Games

Brayden Kuroda won the event with a combined score of 121.65.

Cabinet likely to extend deadline to reconsider Trans Mountain pipeline

The can’t decide the pipeline’s fate until a new round of consultations with Indigenous communities

B.C. government provides $75,000 towards salmon study

Study looks at abundance and health of Pacific salmon in Gulf of Alaska

Murdered and missing honoured at Stolen Sisters Memorial March in B.C.

‘We come together to make change within the systems in our society’

UBC researchers develop inexpensive tool to test drinking water

The tricoder can test for biological contamination in real-time

Disgraced ex-Congressman Anthony Weiner released from prison

He was convicted of having illicit online contact with a 15-year-old North Carolina girl in 2017

B.C. communities push back against climate change damages campaign

Activists copying California case that was tossed out of court

Most Read