Fredericton — “Be…In this place” has been New Brunswick’s licence plate slogan since 2008 when it was developed by marketing group Branding Merchants, but most residents can agree that it has at last run its course.
“It didn’t even make sense if you ask me…is it supposed to be a philosophical question? A command? A plea? Regardless, it sounds stupid,” said Premier Brian Gallant at a press conference in the Smythe Street Tim Hortons.
“I think initially it was supposed to convey the fact that we’re begging youth to stay in the province, but look how that turned out — the place is empty of everything but snowbanks and geezers. So we’ve listened to the people and come up with something everyone can be happy about.”
“‘Keep yer head down’…? Really?” asked a Daily Gleaner reporter. “What does that even mean? Aren’t we just going from one meaningless phrase to another?”
“Let me answer your question with another question: are you some kind of idiot?” spouted Gallant, grinning and looking around at attendees for backup. No one laughed, so Gallant apologized. “Uh, sorry about that…I still get a little defensive when reporters question me…I meant to say it’s an ‘idiom,’ not that you’re an idiot.
“So anyway, ‘Keep yer head down’ will mean a lot to New Brunswickers. It captures their dialect, their spelling abilities or lack thereof, their approach to life.”
The Manatee wanted to be sure just what the phrase does mean, so we consulted various online dictionaries. Officially, to keep one’s head down is defined as: “To actively avoid conflict or attention,” “to lie low or try not to be noticed,” “to remain inconspicuous in difficult or dangerous times,” and, finally, “to work very hard.”
“That’s us to a T, is it not?” Gallant mused. “We’re a very non-confrontational people — we do as we’re told. We try not to challenge the status quo — we just want to get through life without being seen as disruptive or negative. We work hard without questioning why or to what end. And how much more inconspicuous could we be — most people who don’t live here have never even heard of New Brunswick!”
There were vague murmurs of disapproval from the crowd.
A Huddle reporter meekly raised her hand.
“Um, so what you’re saying is, this will be good for the small business community?”
“What?! How the heck did you get there?” laughed Gallant. “No, come on. I don’t give a rat’s ass about small business, and neither do the rest of the Liberals. No, we’re not doing this for business or tourism — in fact we hired a marketing firm from outside of the province to develop the slogan — it’s just something to putter away at until election season.
“We want to keep our heads down, as it were, and if we work hard enough, maybe we’ll be re-elected.”