Sunday, March 02, 2008

Spirited Idiocy: Oh, You'll Feel It, All Right

You ever have the news get your hopes up before finding out that the initial stories were wildly incorrect and what you thought might be improving will instead get worse? That's always fun!

Here's what we all knew at the start of last week: Spirited Energy is an awful slogan, the provincial government has insisted on sticking to it, nobody outside of the government likes it at all (as has been demonstrated), and we're never getting back any of the money that's been wasted on it.

Well! With that established, let's flash back to Tuesday's edition of the Winnipeg Free Press. Originally appearing on their website Monday evening under the headline "Doer wants to pull plug on Spirited Energy", the final article appeared in the morning paper titled "Spirited Energy too tired to go on? Doer studying replacement proposal". Now, what would you think the story is about to say?

The article specifically said that the funding request was already in (what), that the campaign would theoretically be promoted by groups that are already busy with their own individual promotion efforts (what), and that the 'new' campaign would be organized by the same advisory council as before (whaaaaaat). Despite this, the tone and the headlines of the article inferred that the ruling NDP may have learned from past mistakes and could look to put the unpopular Spirited Energy campaign to rest.

HA HA WELL OF COURSE THIS TURNS OUT TO BE NONSENSE. There is no such thing as "learning from past mistakes" in politics; that would require acknowledging past mistakes, and no party would be caught dead doing that unless they were looking to axe their current leader or bury their old one.

(What is Jack Reimer up to these days?)

So within hours of these sensationalistic and unfounded assertions hitting print, the provincial government got out and contacted the media outlets to squash these heresies. Yes, a funding request has been put in to give the same people as before more money on top of the reported $3.1 million so far (and those are only the costs we know about; you'll recall that the government has been, shall we say, less than open and forthcoming about the slogan's expenses) -- but how dare anyone presume that this means a lack of government support for Spirited Energy!

In this case the government mouthpiece was the recently appointed Minister of Competitiveness, Andrew Swan, who made a point of insisting that he likes the slogan and that the government is "going to continue to support that venture".

Such a strong declaration of support from our Competitiveness Minister is nothing but good news for other provinces, who will be able to rest easy knowing that they won't have to worry about Manitoba becoming competitive any time soon. (Maybe somebody told Swan that his job description is to compete against common sense.)

The Canadian press paraphrased him as such:

"Swan is countering media reports that suggest the program is going to be replaced, saying the government is looking at expanding it, with more advertising outside the province."

So! This proposed campaign we're hearing about, the one that'll promote Manitoba outside our borders? The one that involves giving money to the same collection of geniuses that spawned Spirited Energy in the first place? According to our provincial government, the worldwide advertising from that campaign won't replace Spirited Energy -- it'll expand it.

Expand it! To the rest of the world! Oh, good! Now everybody who has long since moved to Alberta or Saskatchewan will be able to watch the Spirited Energy trailers in their movie theatres! You think the rest of Canada laughs at us now -- just wait until we've written their punchline for them!

Related discussion about this very subject by other bloggers has brought up some salient topics for consideration: would the old 'Friendly Manitoba' have been a strong enough slogan itself to justify a promotional campaign around it? How do you go about promoting the Manitoban cultural identity without being able to clearly define it? And has anybody not directly connected to our provincial government ever found anything positive to say about Spirited Energy?

These are all very important points to deliberate, and somebody should remind me to ruminate on them later. (This post is already a tad long by now. Perhaps you'd noticed.)

So at the end of the week, what do we now know? Spirited Energy is an awful slogan, the provincial government insists on sticking to it, nobody outside of the government likes it at all, and we're never getting back any of the money that's been wasted on it.

But now we also know that they're specifically going to put more money into it -- just in case we were somehow misled to believe that they wouldn't. And they're going to inflict it on the rest of Canada, no matter how poorly actual Manitobans have received it; sure, we hated it, but what do we know about Manitoba? We just live here! For now!


Michael said...

As a recent resident of Manitoba I really do feel that it has a spirited energy. Admittedly, I would say that said spirit had more to do with friendliness then anything else. Thus, I can see where the government is coming from on this, but I agree that Friendly Manitoba is a much better slogan.

Lord Tennisanyone said...

"Dispirited Lethargy", "Square Peg In A Pothole", or "Get Riel!" would have been better.

Why our cloistered Komrades ever thought that a charm offensive created in New York would ever sell here is beyond me.

Since 70% of us live in the shadow of the capitol, why don't we just concentrate on highlighting the myriad of obstacles preventing Peggers from being able to afford moving to those souless suburban wastelands that everyone seems to envy?

My suggestion is to rebrand the Convention Centre to the WhatEVERpeg K'vetchin Centre and make it the Mecca for naysayers.
Free coffee and doughnuts! (excluding applicable taxes)

We need to embrace our weaknesses and put WhatEVERpeg, Whingepeg, or Whinerpeg on the map. How else can we hope to kidnap Conglomerates and stop them from relocating to India, Mexico or China?!?

Now that our Housing costs are finally 'catching up' (Oh Joy Oh Rapture) we have finally eliminated our only advantage and the stage is set for our last hurrah. Let's make the most of it.

I'm definitely switchin' to Decaf.