The worst marketing ever: Opportunities New Brunswick big campaign fail


“I AM NB PROUD” reads the Facebook ad, this one featuring a photo of Geoff Clark, a ‘delivery executive for IBM Client Innovation. The subtitle reads: “Make your move to New Brunswick.” It’s hard to begin to explain why this ad campaign is so bad to someone who doesn’t live here.

But fortunately, real New Brunswickers are able to directly comment on the ad, thanks to Facebook. Here’s what one of them clearly articulates, despite his spelling.

“Even the refugies are leaving there is no work for the young generation and the other struggle its so sad to see the the gouvernment paying for that instead of fixing the probleme that probleme is irving that bleed the province drop by drop and stashing there money in bermuda instead of contributing to the systeme like all the others look at saint john that town look like a dump and broak but housing the biggest refinery in canada having one of the weltiest famly running and owning it ruinning he crown kand with all the poison they make the gouvernement put on the crown land so they can controle the the forest inbthere advantage but the wild life number suffer its not rare to see a moos getting weard deasease.The thrute is this province belong to irving the gouvernment act like puppet and ppl see no future here i workbout of province to suporte my famly no choice.”

One woman writes: “It took my husband almost 2 years to find a job in the Saint john area. Mean while we were trying to live off the minimum wage job I have. No jobs here if ur not bilingual.. Sad. Too bad we almost lost everything because if the bilingualism policy here in saint john where the majority speaks only English.”

Another man writes: “Nb proud??? Please I would love to get out of this province....... Absolutely nothing here!!!!!”

And finally this. “Lol, IBM has been doing a massive international employee clear out. Teams of ten are down to two. Projects are being dropped, and there's been a hiring freeze. It's been all over the tech news feeds for months.”

This last comment reminds me of the incredibly stupid deal the province did with Sears Canada as it was going bankrupt—offering Sears $8.7 million in subsidies to locate call centres here. Fortunately, the company folded operations before it could qualify for the subsidies. And it’s not as if the provincial government didn’t know Sears was tanking when it signed the subsidy deals to secure 350 new jobs—as hundreds of other retail jobs were about to be lost across New Brunswick.

No one should be ‘NB proud’ of that one. Which is the problem with the ad campaign. Proud? Of what? A slow motion employment crisis in the middle of a demographic collapse? One would hope for even a glimmer of truth in advertising.
Derelict housing, Peters Street, Saint John, NB

Here’s the reality. New Brunswick has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the country. Back in April the official rate was an abysmal 8.7 percent. As of last month it was down to 7.8, adding back 2,700 full-time jobs and 1,600 part-time jobs. That’s the official rate. The job participation rate for men is five percentage points below the Canadian and PEI rates (70 percent each), putting us on par with Nova Scotia (65 percent) and just slightly better than Newfoundland (just 62.2 percent), which is to say, poor.

The participation rate is the number of people actually employed combined with those actively looking for work. Of New Brunswick’s 620,000-person potential workforce, 35 percent, a total of 217,000 people, is not actively looking for work—on top of the 31,000 unemployed people looking for work.

And the staggeringly brilliant solution offered by the NB Proud ad campaign—is to entice new people to the province! Uh, why? Because we don’t have enough resident talent or skills here? Or unemployed New Brunswickers want too much money? Or because they’re too lazy? Just exactly what is this government saying to its citizens?

What it isn’t saying—and neither are the governments of Canada and provinces like Alberta—is how dependant we are on resource extraction, how little we invest in home grown innovation, and how badly we commercialize the ideas we actually do develop. And how our governments subsidize corporate monopolies that strangle the local economies to death—as we’ve seen in the province’s north.

What we do have in New Brunswick is not opportunity, it’s a culture of stagnation.

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