The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Friday, January 14, 2011

Duelling slogans: The bad and the blue


It's a clear case of serendipity.

Once again a government agency has wheeled out a new slogan to sell Manitoba to potential tourists, as well as to people living here already.

"It's Manitoba Time" is Travel Manitoba's new pitch in their coming annual marketing campaign.

They must be plenty gunshy after having watched the brutal rejection of the NDP's previous effort at branding the province---the disastrous Spirited Energy campaign.

The first public reaction appears to be ... huh?

Well, at least the reaction isn't as hostile as it was for Spirited Energy, which was DOA, although the government continued to flog it for months to the bought cheers of a tiny band of sycophants.

Travel Manitoba says don't judge the slogan in isolation, wait for the context of the campaign. And there's some truth it that.

Miller Time was a slogan to sell a beer. But the commercials sold fun. Young men hitting a bar after work to share a brewski or two with good friends while flirting with pretty girls. Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes.

Nobody can forget MC Hammer's 1990 signature song hit (U) Can't Touch This with its opening bass line (sampled from Rick James' Super Freak) and Hammer's bizarre pants. It's Hammertime, he sang. Now that's branding.

Manitoba Time? We'll wait for the video, thanks.

But then we saw this bit of marketing in the newspaper:

Little bit of naughty would be nice at Taboo show
Winnipeg Free Press - Maureen Scurfield - ‎
The TABOO: Naughty But Nice Show hits Winnipeg Feb. 4-6 at the Convention Centre, with a Miss Taboo Winnipeg pageant...

...and we thought, now there's a slogan.

A little bit of naughty.

It's fun, flirty, sexy without being offensive, intriguing, and repeatable.

Everything 'It's Manitoba Time' is not.

And where did it come from?

The street.

How much did it cost?

Nothing.

Is that the answer? Are all these branding agencies just trying too hard to be oh-so-clever?

Maybe the next time some government body wants a slogan to sell Manitoba, they should just ask some headline writers.

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