The government of Manitoba paid a New York firm around $3 Million to re-brand us. The best they could come up with was 'Spirited Energy'. Exactly what is that supposed to mean? And what was wrong with 'Friendly' ?
The gov't should have talked to these kids before spending all that cash.
This article was in the Friday, June 13 edition of the Winnipeg Free Press.
At last a brand we can believe
Grade 4 reinvents Manitoba's slogan
By: Bruce Owen
Updated: June 13 at 06:58 AM CDT
The kids in teacher Cora Campbell's Grade 4 class are proud of where they live and they want you to be, too.
They've spent almost every day of their school year at Riverbend Community School working on a project -- it's a big project -- to rebrand Manitoba to those who live here and outsiders far and wide.
"We've created a brand for Manitoba called Flatlanders," they say in their PowerPoint presentation. "Our brand message is about three things: Flatness, Friendliness and Forever.
"Yes, we are in Grade 4 and you may be wondering what we know about creating logos and slogans for our province. We are like many people in Manitoba that are proud of where we live."
The kids say Flatlanders is their response to Manitoba's Spirited Energy campaign, a $3-million promotion launched about three years ago to re-shape folks' attitudes about the province. For the most part, it fizzled. Spirited Energy has been dormant for about a year, although some say it may be revived in the weeks to come.
The kids say in no way does Flatlanders poke fun at Spirited Energy.
"We decided that instead of just listening to what people were talking about, we wanted to be part of promoting our fabulous province," student Jaymie says in the presentation.
What sets the zero-budget Flatlanders apart from other school projects is that some of the city's movers and shakers in the advertising, promotion and media business helped them do it. They are Pat Britton, Mariette Mulaire and Alissa Brandt of Premier Gary Doer's Economic Advisory Council, Peter George of advertising firm McKim Cringan George, Kert Gartner of Frantic Films, Jason Abbott of Cocoon Branding, Ace Burpee of HOT 103, Lori Walder of Destination Winnipeg, Barbara Biggar of Biggar Ideas and David Asper of Canwest Global.
They and others visited the class over the past year to give the kids advice on how to sell their product, from Burpee on radio spot-advertising, Asper on media penetration and one volunteer parent on trademark protection.
"They were really smart kids," George said. "It was kind of heart-warming to see this kind of education. I think when I was in Grade 4, all we had was a dentist who came to our school to show us how to brush our teeth."
"She should be minister of education," says Asper of teacher Campbell. "She gets those kids thinking. You leave there believing you can follow your dreams."
Campbell said each of the presenters treated the students with respect.
"This was, for us, about participation," Campbell says. "They didn't treat us like kids."
It was also hard work.
"We know what it is to make a logo," Harvir groans.
The other point to the project wasn't so much finishing it by the end of June, but doing the research to make it happen. That involved learning about the history of the province, spelling and speaking skills, artwork and design and how to market their ideas, from tote bags, water bottles, T-shirts to newspaper and TV ads.
"Everything we've done has been informed by our research," Campbell says.
The sad part now, one the class didn't anticipate, is that in a few days they'll move on to Grade 5. What will become of their Flatlanders project?
"That's what we're worried about," Alyssa says, speaking for the class.
"We don't know what's ahead," Campbell adds. "I'm so proud of all of them."
Whatever happens, the kids won't soon forget the project that brought them together as a team.
They also won't forget the lesson learned: In a province where the sky goes on forever, there's nothing to block your dreams.
"We liked the word Flatlander because it's honest, simple and unique. We are telling it the way it is. There is no hiding it. It's pretty obvious. People think of our province as mostly flat. Yes, we are bumpy in spots, but that's our little secret. We can call those people Uplanders if they don't live where it's flat.
"Our slogan: 'Our sky goes on forever' is important for lots of reasons. The idea of our sky or the horizon is something all of us experience every day in Manitoba. Our big, open skies give us the feeling that something goes on... it's endless... endless possibilities and endless opportunities. That's why we like our tag line."
-- Jaymie, on behalf of the class at Riverbend Community School
I like it! I wonder how I can get one of those t-shirts?