'It's toxic': Why some experts say new Experience Regina slogans go too far
Mixed reviews continue to roll in days after Experience Regina delivered new campaign slogans that lean into the double entendre of the capital city’s name.
Lines such as "Show Us Your Regina," "The City that Rhymes with Fun," and "Make Regina Sexy" were part of the new rebranding.
Cindy Hanson, professor of sociology and social studies at the University of Regina, said she was shocked and disturbed to see the new slogans.
“My thoughts were, ‘Who would have allowed this to be released virally? Who is responsible for this?’” Hanson said.experience
“While this messaging may seemingly be fun or a spoof, in fact what it does is normalize violence against women. It normalizes sexual behaviours that are harmful to the wellbeing and safety of women.”
Hanson said by sexualizing women’s bodies in a campaign, it promotes similar dialogue among the public.
“It’s toxic. Saskatchewan and Regina have among the highest rates of violence against women in this country. It’s unconscionable that we would actually consider this fun,” she said.
To prevent similar situations in the future and to learn from this situation, Hanson said she’d like to see a stronger vetting process from Experience Regina.
“We need to vet things that are potentially racist or sexist,” she said.
In the marketing industry, experts have mixed views as well.
Marjorie Delbaere, an associate dean and professor of marketing at the Edwards School of Business at University of Saskatchewan, said the rebranding of the Experience Regina name was effective given the history of the song and the viral exposure.
However, she said they may have leaned in too far with the slogans.
“They’ve got two things happening at the same time and that one side that’s leaning into the parody that was going around the name and how it’s pronounced in the City of Regina, I think that’s where a lot of the conversation moved towards,” Delbaere said.
When it comes to humour in marketing, Delbaere said it’s tricky to execute.
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“It’s not necessarily guaranteed to polarize as extremely as it did, but it is. It’s pulling on some of these cultural norms. Some people will find it funny and some people will not. When you put that in the context of a city, it’s different,” she said.
“They’ve made [the city] more memorable, but the tricky part is now it’s associated with some of these other negative emotions. Normally in branding you just want to focus on the positive emotions and eliciting positive feelings, so that’s where it’s gotten really tricky for them to manage.”
David Williams, an associate professor of marketing at the Edwards School of Business, called the marketing “a little bit genius.”
“It’s creative, exciting and risky,” he said, adding it sheds light on a city that’s not as well known as other Canadian municipalities.
“Don’t forget some of the target market is outside of Regina. It’s not necessarily the city residents themselves, which is where most of the complaints have been coming from.”
Williams said he doesn’t think the CEO of Experience Regina should have apologized.
“This is probably going to be short term backlash. The campaign has legs. It’s not just being risky for risk’s sake, it’s linked to the brand name and the play on the double entendre and it’s simply,” he said.
CTV News reached out to Tourism Regina for an interview on Monday and is still waiting for a response.
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