New Brunswick — The province’s proposed new tourism slogan, “Hookers galore!” has left New Brunswick residents both shocked and confused. The new slogan, announced this past week, is the result of 12 months and half a million dollars of taxpayer money, primarily spent on a contract with Toronto-based creative agency //Slapi. The new phrase would replace the more appropriate, if somewhat vague current slogan “Be … in this place.”
Roger LeBlanc of Tourism New Brunswick says the new slogan is not exactly what the province wanted. “I think they misunderstood us. We wanted a slogan that would really say something. We suggested something that mentioned our folk art, like wood-carving or rug-hooking. I guess they just caught the ‘hooking’ part.”
The photography and artwork that accompany the slogan, however, point to rather more deliberate mockery from the Ontario group. The high-resolution photo suggested for billboard use features 3 senior women rug-hooking while wearing skin-tight, revealing clothing. The woman in the centre is also holding a large sum of cash and winking seductively at the camera. After receiving an outpouring of disapproval, New Brunswick Tourism has taken the photograph off their website and social media platforms, and announced they will not be proceeding with the campaign.
A representative of //Slapi declined to comment on the situation, but only after laughing for several seconds and muttering, “Oh, that’s good.” The brief campaign did generate buzz, however. While posted on Facebook, the picture of the rug-hookers gained more than 2,000 comments — far more than any previous posts. Comments included “wow,” and “Is that Barb?”
The failure of the campaign is a massive blow to the province financially. Says LeBlanc: “Yeah, we’re never going to get our money back.” He even went so far as to suggest that to recoup costs, Tourism New Brunswick may accept the Irving family’s long-standing paid slogan bid: “Who really cares about trees, anyway?”