Snowshoeing to a remote cabin in the wilderness, sitting by a crackling log fire and witnessing the northern lights dancing across a clear sky: that’s how millions of Canadians will be introduced to the territory this month, after Tourism Yukon launched its first in a series of television commercials on Monday.
It’s the first time an original television commercial has been developed and filmed entirely in the Yukon, and aired on broadcast television across Canada.
It’s a victory for the Tourism Industry Association of the Yukon, which had lobbied for funding to produce a series of television commercials back in January 2014.
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The association had called for a $5 million investment over two years for a television campaign, and finally received $3.6 million from the governments of Yukon and Canada in September.
Chair Neil Hartling said he was very pleased with the ad, but won’t know how effective it’s been at attracting more visitors until the campaign is done and the stats are collected.
“It’s guaranteed that it’ll attract more visitors this year though,” he said.
“That’s because of the fact that the ads will be played in markets where we’ve never had purposely-built television ads specifically for the Yukon. We’ve been part of pan-northern ads before, but these are the first fully dedicated Yukon ads.
“I don’t think anyone could have foreseen the economic situation Canada has found itself in recently, so we’re fortunate that TIA put the wheels in motion when it did. Now we can show up in the marketplace with a plan at a very critical time.”
Last year saw tourism numbers stagnate in the territory.
According to the latest statistics available on TIA’s website, an estimated 406,300 people visited the Yukon from January to September.
That represents a three per cent drop, or a decrease of 13,200 people, over the same period in 2013.
Two commercials, co-produced by Brudder Productions out of British Columbia and Yukon-based Pixelbox Studios, were shot: one near Whitehorse and one in Dawson, which will air in the fall.
The budget for the winter commercials was $250,000, according to Stefanie Richardson from the Department of Tourism and Culture.
The Whitehorse ad, filmed over a period of four days at the Wheaton River Bed and Breakfast on Annie Lake Road, had a cast and crew of about 25 Yukoners.
Producer Jayden Soroka said part of the reason why he wanted to be involved in the project was to give the opportunity to locals to display their talent.
“We found that people here could do the various jobs really well,” he said.
“Next time we’ll try to bring even more Yukoners in on the project. People here don’t really get the opportunity to expand their skill set and work with great gear.
“It was nice to see so many people come together – the Yukon crew blew my mind with how well they worked together.”
Soroka was tasked with finding the perfect cabin for the commercial, which wasn’t easy.
He scouted out areas such as Lake Laberge, Carcross and the Golden Horn area to find a cabin that matched all his criteria.
It had to have road access and enough room for all of the crew’s equipment, which included floodlights, several generators and drones for aerial panoramic shots.
“It was a grueling process,” he said.
“Production is 90 per cent development.”
He said he lucked out when he found the Wheaton cabin, but then came up against an obstacle during filming.
“The weather kicked our ass,” he said.
“We had a lot of cloud cover. We were lucky that it was warm enough for our drones to work properly but the warm weather also brought up mist and fog from the lake.”
The storyboard and script for the commercials were developed well in advance of the filming by Outside The Cube and a creative team it hired.
Not everyone is impressed with the result. Dennis Allen, a filmmaker for over 20 years, is unhappy with the decision to not include aboriginal people in the commercial. He called it a misrepresentation of the “true Yukon and its people.”
“In any other place like Alberta or British Columbia, First Nations and Inuit are honoured and recognized for their contributions to those jurisdictions,” he said.
“It’s a sad statement of affairs, and it’s hard not think that it’s because of the strained relationship between First Nations and the government.”
Contact Myles Dolphin at