You gotta be here

14 Feb

Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, Kim Cattrall, Steve Nash. What do they all have in common?

If you answered they all live in the US, you’re right. If you answered they are all in the latest Tourism British Columbia TV ad promoting the province, you’re right again. Watch it here.

Were they all born here? They were, but then they left.

“You gotta be here!” says Michael J. Fox at the end of the commercial. Nash and Cattrall deliver their lines in front of a green screen, with the BC exterior pasted up in post.

If you’re going to bring in celebrities to extol the virtues of BC, it doesn’t really work when they don’t choose to be here – or aren’t here for the shoot – and then try to convince us otherwise.

Just saying.


17 Responses to “You gotta be here”

  1. Reg February 14, 2010 at 11:16 pm #

    Doug, here’s one I disagree with you on. If you think about the target market for these commercials, it’s very much the US (and beyond), i.e. recognizable celebrities “of BC/Canadian extraction” that have profile elsewhere where these ads are meant to generate interest in tourism in our province. Yes, they’re playing the ads here in BC as well — supposedly to generate our own home-grown pride — but I think they will do well against their objectives of driving interest and visits to our province/country. However, that these celebs all live in the US is, whether we like it or not, part of what makes them “larger than just BC or even Canada”, and therefore a propos ‘ambassadors’ to a world that will relate to them, and through them, our province.

    Yes, this campaign is largely similar to the same thing that California Tourism did the last couple of years, using mega stars to beckon outsiders (including us British Columbians) to come visit, so that it’s not original I think is a fair criticism. And, of course, whether you believe celebrities are necessary to showcase our stunning province is worthy of debate. However, I think the roster of celebrities chosen is a fairly squeaky clean / admirable group (for now… witness Tiger’s mighty tumble from grace), so at least they lend a good voice to inviting foreigners to the province.

    Does this all translate into tourism dollars for BC? Well, the jury is still out on that count, so whatever these celebs were paid for their endorsements, it’s unclear if it will have been worth it, in the end. To that end, I would certainly love to know how Tourism BC will be planning to MEASURE the impact of their efforts — we have a damn sexy brand in our province’s abundant gorgeousness alone, so I’m curious to know if a little extra star power helps to drive the almighty (visitor) buck to our door.

    Thanks for ranting, and letting me rant back,


  2. dougbrowncreative February 15, 2010 at 5:43 am #

    Thanks for the rant back Reg. You make a bunch of discussion-worthy points and I would never debate that these spots will work. Are they like the California spots? Yes, but those celebs at least live in the State they’re promoting…as do most of the celebs from the Tourism BC ads!

    California is all about celebrity so those commercials feel right for the Brand, although one could argue that everywhere is about celebrity these days.

    I guess the issue for me is integrity. What? In advertising? But when I frame the essence of my post in another industry, it casts a different perspective on the integrity of the Tourism ads:

    Ford cars. I used to own one, and I think they’re great cars. But I have money now and am driving a Mercedes. But Ford cars, hey, you gotta drive one! That’s me in an LA studio. They’ll put a Ford up behind me in Post.

    That’s the taste that was left in my mouth.

    What did you think about the celebs being filmed in front of green screens?

    Hey one more thing…Eric McCormack? He was born in Scarborough, lives in LA! There’s a resounding endorsement.

    Out! And thanks.

  3. Reg February 15, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    Fair points, Doug and, ah yes, the classic Canadian (celebrity) dilemma of “having” to leave to become (even more) famous. I mean, even Joni Mitchell lives in LA, for crying out loud. And Eric McCormack was a stretch, I agree.

    The green screens were a little too obvious/annoying, I must say, as well — the lighting just a little too lovely on Kim Cattrall, for example, no matter how beautiful the light in the Okanagan.

    However, if you extrapolate for a minute, are we also going to assail the various Canadian icons/legends/stars that were part of the Opening Ceremonies as well? Donald Sutherland, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Nash, Bryan Adams, Leonard Cohen (kd lang covered Hallelujah), Joni Mitchell (music played but no artist present), Anne Murray — the list goes on (though there were of course several who do continue to make BC/Canada home, of course). Should we not have included any of those that are no longer living in BC/Canada and are earning their living/stardom abroad? Chances are, however sadly, that we would have had a much truncated roster of (internationally recognizable) talent to showcase if we had limited ourselves to those living in Canada, or BC (or Vancouver, or… what IS the geographical delimiter here?). Do we really fault Victoria’s own native son, Mr. Nash, for his incredible achievements as both a Canadian National Team athlete and as an multi-winning NBA All-Star/MVP awards? Where/how do we draw the line here?

    [Side note: I was enjoying some (free) Olympic revelry in downtown Vancouver on the weekend, talking with and meeting people from “all over the world”. In conversation with some interesting, engaged and intelligent visitors from The Netherlands, I learned that they had had no idea that Leonard Cohen was Canadian — they were thrilled to learn he was, thanks to the power of television that the Opening Ceremonies showcased his ever-more-popular song Hallelujah (with kd lang’s interpretation). I was very happy — and proud — to see that they learned about Cohen’s citizenship via the broadcast.]

    Do I LIKE that these celebs earn their livings abroad (including cashing in on their connection/origin to BC), partly in order to gain that very celebrity in the first place? Heck no. Do I begrudge them for it? Nope. Do I wish they could achieve that same megawatt status (if that’s what they really want) here at home? Sure. Am I grateful that my career has allowed me some growth over the years while still allowing me to stay in our relatively “small market” BC? Absolutely. Do I reckon I’ll have to move further afield (Eastern Canada, the US, or beyond) to grow even further in my career? Not necessarily — but that part comes down to choice of what I value as well.

    Okay — done ranting — I’ve got to get some real work done. Thanks for the dialogue, Doug,


  4. Amy February 15, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    Ehh hem. Do any of us live where we were born? Didn’t we move for opportunities, work and just for the fun of it? How can we blame people who are at the top of their game for competing in the Biggest League of All?

    I was kinda (proud!!!) and relieved to see all these famous Canadians who’ve made it to the top come back and pitch for their home country. I’m bored of the Holy Triumvirate of Anne Murray, Gordon Lightfoot and Margaret Atwood.

    Don’t hate me!!! For that matter, no playa hatin’… h.e.y.!

  5. Amy February 15, 2010 at 10:08 am #

    Hey! KD still lives here, I think. Or at the very least she still eats at the veggie restaurant at the foot of Commerical Drive. Reg, I too loved the breadth of performers at the Opening Ceremonies.

    They did an amazing job of honouring Canada’s past and connecting people who are watching around the world to our present. I’m sure many people didn’t realize Nash, KD, Cohen even Sutherland are Canadian. This is the first time I’ve seen a show unabashedly embrace Canadian stars who are thought of as American stars.

  6. dougbrowncreative February 15, 2010 at 10:39 am #

    I don’t live where I was born Amy, but nor am I going to go back to Scarborough, Ontario and tell anyone who will listen: You gotta be here!

    You know?

  7. Amy February 15, 2010 at 12:26 pm #

    Really? If you made it big, you were an international brand and they were hosting a huge event for the wold?

  8. Amy February 15, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    I would do that for Montreal, in a heartbeat. If I lived in France, LA, wherever.

  9. dougbrowncreative February 15, 2010 at 12:30 pm #

    “I don’t gotta be here of course, but YOU gotta be here.”

    Anyway, seriously, who would do that for Scarberia? Not even Mike Myers.

  10. Andrew Hall February 15, 2010 at 5:46 pm #

    Doug, I don’t think your Ford analogy is really fair. I’d say a closer analogy is, “Hey, I grew up with Ford, and now I have to drive this Ferrari [okay not the perfect symbol of America but hear me out] because it’s necessary for my career. But when I’m not working I’m still faithful to my roots at Ford and I suggest you give Ford a try yourself. [This side of the analogy, Steve Nash still plays basketball for Phoenix, Ryan Reynolds clearly still has to be in L.A. for acting, not sure about the other two].

    I think the ad’s alright because of what they’re truly promoting here – the celebs are in support of B.C. and call it home, which is completely fine for them to say in my opinion. They’re telling us that despite their success elsewhere, they’re happy to call this province “home” when referring to it, not “B.C. Canada.” If the message for the ad was “Move to B.C. for your career,” then I’d have a serious problem with them saying it!

    Basically, based on the fact that all they’re promoting is that B.C. is great, their home, and a place to travel, it’s alright. The only part that kinda gets me is Michael J. Fox saying “you gotta be here” with a green-screen. Change that to “you gotta be there” or “you gotta go there,” and I’m satisfied!

    Good post – clearly controversial enough to get a good commentary going!

  11. Storme February 15, 2010 at 7:22 pm #

    Hey Doug, Steve Nash let me go in front of him in the line-up at Urban Fare a few months ago, then I watched as he (very graciously) took photos with tourists while his food went cold — so at least he puts in appearances around these parts… probably because of his sports clubs, but maybe he likes visiting?

  12. dougbrowncreative February 15, 2010 at 7:54 pm #

    Steve Nash seems to be the odd bird out here Storme. I can believe that he would return to BC to live after his sports career is done. Unlike the Ferrari drivers, who I don’t think will be willingly returning to Fords.

  13. Actually... February 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm #

    Actually, I know that Kim Cattrall and Sarah Mclaughlin both have places on the Island (and Nash, I believe). Like another poster above has said, most of these people are abroad for work, and since the ads are aimed at celeb-obsessed North American culture, I think they are good reps for BC.

  14. GeorgiaNative February 28, 2010 at 11:32 pm #

    Writing as an American who has visited Canada only once, I’ll say that the ads definitely got my attention and have put BC on my wish list of places to go. Would they have worked without the celebrities? Possibly, but I think the celebrities helped to pique my interest, not because I expect to run across celebrities when I do visit BC, but because they are familiar to me. One of the things that advertisers have to deal with is the problem of selective attention that viewers have; when ads come on, we often tune out, switch channels, or use the opportunity to make a quick trip to the kitchen or bathroom. Using familiar images and people helps to get our attention.

    I too wondered about the green screens, which, in fact, is the reason I found your blog (I had Googled “British Columbia You gotta be here green screen”). I agree that it takes something away from the ads for people like us that dwell on such things, but I would bet that 95% of viewers never gave it a second thought. Even for me, it does not diminish my belief that BC would be a great place to visit. I rationalized that it was a necessary evil to get the ads done within a reasonable budget and timeframe given these celebrities’ busy schedules.

  15. dougbrowncreative March 1, 2010 at 8:41 am #

    All great points GeorgiaNative – thanks for offering them. I’m seesawing on this a bit, but Michael Fox’s bit at the Olympic closing ceremony has at least restored my faith in where these celebs see their allegiance. Nice to see he wears the maple leaf on his shirt when he’s watching a Canada-US hockey game.

  16. Still Canadian November 4, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Just because you reside near your work doesn’t doesn’t take away from where you come from, or how you identify yourself. I live in the US and have for several years now, not really by choice but because this is where my job has forced me come. It’s not that I dislike like it here in San Francisco, I actually quite like it, but I will never identify as a Californian or American. The fact that Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynold, Kim Cattrall and the other celebrities featured in the ad now live in the US “permanently” is somewhat irrelevant I know for a fact that most of them still own properties in British Columbia, so something is holding them there. Simply living in the US does not make you American, it does not negate where you are from or how they identify yourself. As I said I love San Francisco and California, it’s where I live, but no matter how long I am here I will always identify as a Canadian and more specifically as British Columbian. I think it just makes sense that they be featured on these ads. After all, they are British Columbians.

  17. Doug Brown November 4, 2011 at 10:01 am #

    Good points Still Canadian. I think most of these starlets are actually happy to be living in the US – in LA, which was my point. How many movies does Michael J. Fox make a year now? But he stays there. And why not! They like the lifestyle and prefer the weather. But that still doesn’t add up to “You gotta be here.” in my mind.

    Something that mitigates my position somewhat is the idea that they are not saying you gotta live here, but visit here. Taken in that context, and with the mellowing affects of Father Time since I posted this, I am content to say I agree with you.

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