Sunday, June 20, 2010

Marketing Canada: fake lakes and 'pristine natural beauty'

1. In the lead-up to the G8/20 summit at the end of the week, most of the Canadian media is focusing on a $2 million space for foreign journalists, where the centerpiece is a fake lake and beach so that the journalists who can't attend the G8 meetings can still 'experience' some approximation of their natural setting.

Needless to say, most people who aren't members of the ruling Conservative party aren't impressed. From The Globe and Mail:

[NDP leader Jack] Layton asked how the Prime Minister can justify the costs. [...] "We’ve got a government here that has to create an artificial lake when Canada has more lakes than just about any other country in the world.”

2. The Conservatives are defending it as a marketing ploy, though it's not clear what they're selling - is Canada a source of plentiful artificial lakes? And do the journalists covering G8/20 even care about Canada's lakes, real or not? From the CBC:

"The Experience Canada space will host over 3,000 media and other guests, and will serve to highlight Canada's pristine natural beauty, as well as promote leading Canadian businesses and industries," according to a statement issued by the Prime Minister's Office.

"In fact, it's a $2-million marketing project," [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper said, "We must not miss this opportunity."

3. But the real goal is probably to use the fake lake as a sort of distraction object. Because if you're trying to market Canada, you certainly don't want foreign media to be looking at the streets of Toronto, where the G20 is actually being held. A lot of concrete barriers and chain-link fences, sure, but not much "pristine natural beauty" here:

Unless, of course, the government is trying to sell Toronto as a police-state-themed amusement park.

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