This ain't Flint! It also ain't a good campaign!

For the last three or four days (this will be important information later!) I've been noticing these bus ads up all over Ottawa:

I finally caved and went to the site. I admit that. I am about to crap all over a campaign that I have to acknowledge DID send me to a website. But honestly you guys this is the worst thing I've ever seen. They're totally partying like it's 1995, when the Red Dog logo started appearing everywhere, and there was a sort of gradual reveal of the (beer) brand and it ended up being super popular because people were curious and wondering and waiting.

Except it's 15 years later and there is the internet now. Which has made a lot of viral-buzz-building MORE possible, but every aspect of this demonstrates that they have no idea what they are doing.

The landing page of the website features an embedded video, without any accompanying text that might inspire me to watch it.

The first half of the piece tells us all about how bad it was in Flint Michigan when the car factories shut down and how there were more rats than people and generally everything was for sure the opposite of good!

CUT TO: Stock photography of sunny Ottawa! The Parliament Buildings! Some tulips! Whatever! A voice over tells you how RAD it is to be in Ottawa which is in no way like Flint Michigan was in the 80's!

This is verbatim from the script I am not messing with you:
"You are not an unemployed autoworker, you control your own destiny. THIS AIN'T FLINT. American channels report American news. IGNORE IT. Negative people will try and drag you down. IGNORE THEM. National news reports don't apply here. IGNORE THEM TOO. This is Ottawa. THIS AIN'T FLINT. So the next time your friend Chicken Little complains about the economy, look 'em square in the eye and tell 'em: THIS AIN'T FLINT. Now everyone please: GET BACK TO WORK"

Question: Has anyone been overheard musing that Ottawa is gonna be the next Flint, Michigan? No! Another question: ARE massive layoffs happening in various industries here? People at Adobe and Nortel might say so! Another question: Are they really launching a campaign to tell you to IGNORE THE MEDIA analysis of the economy in favour of the message of their bus-shelter ads? YES!

Then there is more bad music and this text appears:
"The goal of this project is to inspire positive and appropriate conversations in the National Capital Region. Please share this link with as many of your friends as possible. Together we CAN make a difference."

Question: Is this seriously an ad campaign to inspire "appropriate conversations"? YES!

THEN this text appears, at which point I almost start to feel sorry for them:
"Thisaintflint.ca would like to acknowledge Michael Moore's 1989 film "Roger and Me" which first captured the devastation of the people of Flint, Michigan. (In fact the descriptions of Flint used in this video have been borrowed almost exclusively from Mr. Moore's film and synopsis.)"

That part in the parenthesis is not my editorializing! It's from the video itself, sort of apologetically admitting to having had ripped off a 20 year old well-known documentary. It's nearly sad!

Aside from the video, the site has four sections, all of which are executed terribly. Let me break it down:

HUH - This is some of the most cringe-inducing writing I have seen in a while. It's self-conscious and self-congratulatory at the same time. I will reproduce it in its entirety:

You made it! Sorry for being so obtuse, but it’s a tough world out there — you do what you have to do to get noticed, and this is important.

You’re probably here because you noticed some strange ads, or someone mentioned the site to you or…completely by accident!. But more likely you’re here because something just doesn’t feel right to you. You hear the news reports about the economy, and sure, there’s bad stuff happening – no doubt. But then you look at your own life, and it hasn’t changed that much.

South of the border things are not looking good. Even closer to home, you hear news stories about closures and layoffs. But still something just doesn’t quite jive for you. You look around this town and things seem, well, pretty much business as usual really. No mass layoffs. No line ups for bread. No rioting.

We are incredibly fortunate to be somewhat insulated from this madness, so let’s take the time to celebrate that, focus on the postives, and get this thing moving again.

We are not preaching ignorance. We are not naïve, and to the good people of Flint, Michigan – we bear no malice and offer condolences in these hard times.

Here in Ottawa we are incredibly fortunate to be somewhat insulated from this madness, so let’s take the time to celebrate that, focus on the positives, and get this thing moving again.

1. The use of the word "obtuse" when they mean "obscure".

2. The description of how you might have ended up at the site states that you PROBABLY ended up there because "Something just doesn't feel right to you." That makes no sense! Why would something not feeling quite right make someone type "Thisaintflint.ca" into their web browser? It never would!

3. The fact that the fourth and sixth paragraphs are exactly the same, except for the fact that in the fourth paragraph, "positives" is spelled incorrectly.

4. The rest of it.

Honestly it's just so offensive and stupid. What do they want us to DO? "Get this thing moving again"? WHAT thing? How do they want us to do that? What would it look like once it was moving?

WHO? - The text of this section reads as follows:
The “THIS AINT FLINT” campaign has been executed exclusively by Newcap Radio - using the creative inspiration of the team at Alphabet Creative.

This same combination of resources is largely responsible for the dramatic, yet consistent growth of LiVE 88.5 and HOT 89.9 in the very competitive Ottawa-Gatineau radio marketplace (see chart – up to 400%* increase in market share over the past six years!)

... and there really are not enough interrobangs in the world. I guess this site is actually an ad for an ad company and radio station? Not interested! Moving on!

IF YOU OWN A BUSINESS - Here is the text!
If you own a business and would like to grow your market share by putting our ideas and proven strategies to work for you, please email us here thisaintflint@magma.ca

We got you this far, let’s see how far we can take you.

And you know, maybe you would read this and say "Fair enough! I mean, I DID come to this website! Maybe these folks really know how to create a buzz!"

Stop. Because the next section of the site really distills why the people behind it have no idea what they are doing.

This is their chance to shine, right? To highlight how expert they are at viral marketing. How they will inspire people all over the city to have the most appropriate conversations about your brand and/or the economy that you can even imagine. This is the backbone of making something like this work. And this is how they plan to do that. On this section of the site you can:

1. Email the people behind the site. That's really gonna help spread the word, dudes!

2. Email your friends about the site. Now, this CAN be useful. If there was a mailform where you could enter your friends email addresses and they'd get a branded form letter that you could customize AND the campaign could grab YOUR email address for future contact, that might at least serve a purpose. But no, what we've got here is this: "mailto:?subject=www.thisaintflint.ca".


Their "spread the word" link opens up your mail program and gives you a blank email with the subject "www.thisaintflint.ca"? This is astonishing to me in its uselessness and stupidity. First of all, everyone who does "cloud computing" -- using web-based email instead of email software -- is left right out by this. If they DID click on it, probably some two year ol version of Outlook would have tried to install or something. So exasperating. Second of all, there is NO way of tracking how many people were emailed through this, OR what message they were sent! Third of all, this is 2009. Your "spread the word" section should contain graphics, banner ads, blogging tools that would allow people to embed the video (and other content if there ever is any other content) in their blog, and links to promote the site on social networking websites like Digg and Stumbleupon! THAT IS HOW YOU DO THINGS.

3. Links to the facebook group, and the twitter feed. The facebook group has 15 members and the twitter feed has three followers. WELL DONE. NOT REALLY. Also worth noting! The video has had 22 views. Also worth noting! The twitter update from 18 hours ago was "www.thisaintflint.ca very very soon." Which means that the ad campaign launched several days before the website was even UP.

MADE. OF. FAIL. Also! What is up with that creepy doll?

(p.s. No one is talking about this campaign.)