Leaders of a Canadian city’s tourism campaign faced backlash after their rebrand was not only considered juvenile but “lazy and sexist, colonialist and misogynist” too.
“We are the city that rhymes with fun.”
Nestled between Manitoba and Alberta and along the northern border of the American states of Montana and North Dakota, sits the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. As part of an effort to draw more tourists to their capital city, Tim Reid, the CEO of the Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL) and the briefly rebranded Experience Regina had offered up some new marketing materials that have left activists calling for his resignation.
Leaning heavily into the city’s pronunciation, which does in fact rhyme with “vagina,” Tourism Regina had attempted some tongue-in-cheek promotions that included a call for locals and visitors to “Show us your Regina.”
DMOs are transitioning to engaging concepts such as "Visit", "Explore", and "Discover".⁰⁰While visitors wont find mountains, the Eiffel Tower, or the grandest bridges, they will find amazing people, places, events, and experiences that will live in their memory for a lifetime. pic.twitter.com/oGqU0vWQXC
— Tourism Regina (@tourism_yqr) March 18, 2023
Some found the marketing campaign less than humorous and even an outright attack, and protesters recently gathered at Regina City Hall to demand Reid be removed from his position and that the mayor and city council undergo “inclusivity” training. Their spokesperson Bernadette Wagner led the less than a dozen gathered according to CBC and had said from the lobby, “Many survivors of sexual assault, including me, have been triggered and re-traumatized by this horrid campaign.”
“Nor am I the only one who’s absolutely tired of this, tired of the bad jokes, tired of sexual harassment, tired of responding to this misogyny, and especially when it comes from our own tourism department. It is time for the city to take action,” she went on.
A release from the date of their protest claimed: “citizens immediately expressed their disgust and outrage in the media and online, calling the campaign lazy and sexist, colonialist and misogynist, and completely inappropriate for our city.”
Experience Regina protest today at city hall in Regina at 12:30. pic.twitter.com/ifFvghXSlE
— Alexander Quon (@AlexanderQuon) April 5, 2023
In addition to demands for Reid to lose his job and Mayor Sandra Masters to undergo “appropriate and immediate education and training,” the group demanded “fair and equal representation of underserved and underrepresented communities, including BIPOC, Disable, Pride, and people with vaginas at the marketing and promotions table.”
Responding to the protests, CBC reported Masters telling the press, “I’ve had other people tell me that I should just quit. I won’t be stepping down. I think we’re trying to find a way to move forward, and if additional training and education and those types of things are needed, then absolutely.”
Having reverted back to the previous moniker of Tourism Regina, the group announced the search for a new brand. “During this process, we are committed to consulting with a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure all voices are heard.”
“While we determine what the future of Tourism Regina looks like, we look forward to getting back to work to support the local tourism economy essential to the city during the busy spring and summer seasons,” they added.
An update on our brand: pic.twitter.com/voKL0kTrjz
— Tourism Regina (@tourism_yqr) April 13, 2023
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