I received a surprise call earlier today from the tourism office in Flint, MI. Matt Bach, the Public Relations Manager of the Flint Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, was asking for a quotation for a press release they wanted to issue with regards to the “This Ain’t Flint” campaign MediaStyle.ca reported on earlier this week. Here’s the joint release from the Ottawa and Flint tourism authorities:
Ottawa and Flint tourism groups denounce anti-Flint ad campaign:
Flint Area Convention & Visitors Bureau thanks Ottawa for its support
FLINT, Mich., USA, and OTTAWA, Ont., Canada – The tourism agencies for Flint, Michigan, and Ottawa, Canada, have joined together to denounce an advertising campaign by an Ottawa radio station that attempts to promote its own goals and objectives for Ottawa by unfairly chastising Flint.
Using the slogan “This Ain’t Flint”, the ad campaign started in Ottawa last week on signs placed throughout the community. The campaign is the work of the advertising firm Alphabet Creative and was also featured on radio ads aired on Newcap-owned radio stations.
“Included in the campaign is a Web site and video showing grainy, black and white images of Flint. Some of the information in the video was taken from the 1989 movie, “Roger & Me” by Flint-area native Michael Moore. The video then compares the Flint images to colorful photographs of Ottawa landmarks and smiling citizens. Some of the Ottawa images were taken from the official Ottawa Tourism Web site, ottawatourism.ca.”
Noel Buckley, President and CEO of Ottawa Tourism, said he was made aware of the campaign today and was disappointed by it. He is asking that the ad company stop using the photos taken from his agency’s Web site. He’s also contacted officials with the Newcap radio stations to convey his concerns with this campaign.
“Images of Ottawa can be downloaded by anyone from our Web site for promotional purposes,” says Mr. Buckley. “They are not intended to be used unfairly to portray other destinations and this is clearly an unfair comparison between Flint in 1989 and Ottawa today.”
Jerry Preston, president of the Flint Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he was extremely concerned by the campaign and said it’s unjust to compare any city to Flint in 1989.
“Yes, we have some issues in Flint, but we’re pulling ourselves up,” Mr. Preston said. “Our city is the midst of a revitalization from a factory town to becoming a college town. We have many positive attractions, including the Flint Cultural Center and Crossroads Village. These are all things this campaign chose to ignore. The Flint of 20 years ago is not the Flint of today and to use that for any type of comparison is grossly unfair.”
Mr. Preston praised Mr. Buckley and Ottawa Tourism for their support of Flint.
“We know there are good people in Ottawa and we are very impressed and grateful for their support of Flint and for their concern over this campaign,” Mr. Preston said.
The campaign also is offensive to those in Canada, said Ian Capstick, owner of MediaStyle Communications in Ottawa. Capstick has criticized the campaign on his Web site, mediastyle.ca.
“It’s bad communications overall. From start to finish,” Capstick said. “it’s a poorly executed campaign. It offended people in the U.S., which is Canada’s largest trading partner. You don’t want to do anything to offend your largest trading partner. I bet there are people in Flint who do business with people in Ottawa. I think it’s best not to pit one city or one country against another.”