Motel 6 mix up aside, let’s hope Yukon’s new ads work

If Yukon's tourism boosters want to find a vivid metaphor for the territory, a budget motel chain was probably not what they had in mind.

If Yukon’s tourism boosters want to find a vivid metaphor for the territory, a budget motel chain was probably not what they had in mind. Unfortunately, that was the initial connection made by some viewers of the territory’s new advertisements, which initially ended with a line nearly identical to the slogan for Motel 6: “We’ll leave a light on for you.”

Upon learning about the goof-up, the agency responsible for the ads quickly swapped out the offending line for “We’ll light the way.” The ads had already been broadcast for a few days by then, but, in the scheme of things, this is not a huge deal. Still, the agency’s failure to fully own the mistake only invites further ridicule.

Outside the Cube explained in a statement that it searched Industry Canada’s website and elsewhere to check for any existing trademarks, but nothing turned up. Apparently, they had not at the time heard of a website called Google, for a simple search turns up many references to the Motel 6 catchphrase. Indeed, our own search of the Industry Canada site also finds a top reference to the Motel 6 trademark. Clearly, someone didn’t do this job right.

Outside the Cube’s statement is all the more remarkable for suggesting that the overlap with Motel 6’s slogan may not even be a problem. The hotel chain hadn’t complained yet, after all, “and the advice of our legal and trademark advisors suggest there are options to move forward as is.” C’mon. As if that were a real option.

These marketing gurus are being paid handsomely with public funds to create these ads. It seems reasonable to expect a bit more forthrightness about an entirely preventable oversight. (OK, this is exactly the sort of butt-covering we would expect from our political leaders. But must we set the bar for everyone else so low?)

As for the advertisement itself? Well, it seeks to persuade well-heeled Canadians that it is an exotic luxury to idle at a Yukon log cabin in frigid temperatures while reading Robert Service and watching the northern lights glow. Let’s hope it works. With the mining downturn, many local retailers are hurting. The territory’s slumping economy could sure use a boost.

The Yukon doesn’t exactly hold a monopoly on Canada’s snow and trees and northern lights, but perhaps childhood memories of reading the Bard of the Yukon remain strong enough to open many wallets.

The commercial won’t win any awards for originality, but this shouldn’t be a surprise, as governments usually prefer bland campaigns to anything too edgy or interesting. For comparison, it’s worth checking out online an ad that Steve Gordon produced for the Yukon, using much of the same subject matter. It ends with the bold line, “Not for everyone.” It’s easy to understand why such a slogan wouldn’t get past the screening of government officials

– couldn’t it be misconstrued as a put-down? – but it’s also a line that people might actually remember, or even talk about. Heaven forbid.

Dennis Allen, a Yukon First Nation filmmaker, has dumped on the government ads for not including First Nation representation. Outside the Cube has hastened to say that future ads will play up First Nation culture, which it recognizes is integral to the territory. This seems fair enough. Otherwise, why stop there, if we’re being truly respectful? What of Yukon’s immigrant families and gay couples, among other groups that all surely deserve token, walk-on appearances within the ad’s brief 30 seconds?

Remember, these are commercials, not documentaries. Advertising has never been too concerned with realism and truth-telling. It’s largely the business of selling fantasies that are seductive enough to persuade people to part with their money.

Yukon’s tourism ads should be judged primarily on whether they succeed in this aim, and at this point, it’s too early to say.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited internet options beginning Dec. 1. (Yukon News file)
Unlimited internet for some available Dec. 1

Whitehorse and Carcross will be among seven northern communities to have unlimited… Continue reading

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Fossil finds at Mt. Stephen. (Photo: Sarah Fuller/Parks Canada)
Extreme hiking, time travel and science converge in the Burgess Shale

Climb high in the alpine and trace your family tree back millions of years – to our ocean ancestors

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Most Read