April 07, 2020

Tourism ad miffs Mainers> Cold water gets Canadians award

Staff at Tourism New Brunswick in Fredericton are ecstatic after winning an international prize for an ad campaign designed to lure French Canadian bathers from the chilly waters of Maine to the shores of New Brunswick.

The province’s tourism agency won the bronze medal in the Prix des Nations category at the 11th Mondial de la Publicite Francophone, held in Beirut, Lebanon, this fall.

“Thanks to our marketing efforts, the Quebec advertising campaign enabled New Brunswick to dominate the Quebec market in terms of advertising awareness,” said Camille Theriault, the minister of Economic Development and Tourism for New Brunswick.

In a survey conducted in Quebec after the ad campaign, which ran as posters and billboards, the minister said New Brunswick ranked first, ahead of Mexico, Florida and Cuba, as a beach destination, she said.

The winning advertisements promote New Brunswick at the expense of Maine, however. The ad compares what it describes as the “icy” water of Old Orchard Beach in York County to the more comfortable waves that roll in on New Brunswick beaches. The ad features a shivering model wearing a wool bathing suit and a wool cap entering the water on an icy blue background to depict Old Orchard. This is contrasted with a swimmer in a contemporary bathing suit enjoying a swim in New Brunswick’s waters, which appear warm and tropical.

The posters and billboards say New Brunswick offers the warmest beaches north of Virginia. The campaign’s objective was to bring to New Brunswick the large number of Quebec tourists who are known for making annual summer treks to Old Orchard Beach.

Greg Burke, the director of the York County coalition of chambers of commerce, called the whole campaign “dirty pool.” He questioned the truthfulness of the New Brunswick ads. According to his information, the New Brunswick department took a temperature reading in a shallow 2-foot-deep inlet at Kouchibouquac National Park on the province’s Acadian Peninsula. That was compared to a reading taken offshore along the 7-mile stretch of Old Orchard Beach.

“Naturally, the shallow water would have a higher temperature than the waters of the Atlantic at Old Orchard,” Burke said. “And even at that, the difference is only two or three degrees. New Brunswick is using flawed comparisons to stretch a point.”

Burke said that, while the campaign might have attracted attention in Quebec, it will make little difference in the number of visitors to Old Orchard Beach. “Canadians are wiser comsumers than to fall for a message with such questionable facts,” he said.

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