I've always liked Canadians.
They're generally friendly, non-violent and mild-mannered. Sort of like Mormons, minus the religion thing. Sure, they have some goofy sports (curling, anyone?) and some lame television shows (anyone remember The Beachcombers on Channel 9 in Windsor?), but their biggest fault seemed to be that they were a little dull, which is just what you'd expect from a suburb of the U.S. masquerading as country. (Please note that I'm not including French Canadians in this description; those dudes are crazy!)
But little did I know how un-Canadian some folks in Ottawa could be. What kind of city creates an advertising campaign proclaiming "This Ain't Flint"? Actually, it's the work of Newcap Radio and Alphabet Creative. No one really expects much from a corporate radio chain and an ad agency, but this is really pathetic. It's not even original; the bulk of the material in their video is stolen from Roger & Me, minus the humor. Here's a line from the campaign that's guaranteed to infuriate: "You are not an unemployed autoworker. You control your own destiny. This ain't Flint!" (No idea what the creepy doll featured prominently is all about.)
Perhaps even worse, after tearing down Flint to make Ottawa feel good about itself, they try to pretend there was no harm intended, perhaps realizing that Flintoids, unlike most Canadians, are often well-armed and decidedly not mild-mannered:
"We are incredibly fortunate to be somewhat insulated from this madness, so let’s take the time to celebrate that, focus on the positives, and get this thing moving again.Sorry, apology not accepted. Perhaps you'd like to let the geniuses who created the campaign know how you feel. (I realize a controversy is probably exactly what they want, but it's still cathartic to get things off your chest.) Here's the email: email@example.com.
"We are not preaching ignorance. We are not naïve, and to the good people of Flint, Michigan – we bear no malice and offer condolences in these hard times.
"But let’s face it everybody – we live in Ottawa, and it’s pretty damn good. So let’s go with that."
Better yet, let the Ottawa Tourism office know what you think of the "This Ain't Flint" campaign. Here's that email: firstname.lastname@example.org
UPDATE: MediaStyle has an online interview with Tony Lyons, the man responsible for the campaign. Tony's clearly clueless: "We don’t intend to offend anyone, and I don’t think the campaign could be seen to be in any way offensive, except maybe to doll enthusiasts."
ANOTHER UPDATE: There's an elaborate discussion of the campaign on Your Dirty Answer.