Canada’s ‘Environmentally Friendly’ Brand in Jeopardy?

http://www.desmog.ca/2014/01/14/harper-government-hires-international-firm-22-million-ad-campaign-promoting-oilsands

tarsands

In Evan Potter’s article on Canadian public diplomacy, he mentions that a large part of Canada’s “warm…fuzzy” international brand is its image of being “an environmentally friendly country”. According to the Canadian opposition party (NDP) House leader Nathan Cullen, this brand is being damaged under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government and its various controversial energy projects, including tar oil sands and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the United States. Perhaps in an effort to counter this damage, Harper’s government has rolledout a 22 billion dollar international ad campaign that blurs the line between public diplomacy and pure PR. The ads promote Canadian energy as an environmentally friendly, morally palatable alternative for the U.S. and Europe. These ads have been highly visible in DC metro stops since January. Although they tout Canada’s reputation of environmental friendliness, it seems doubtful that the campaign will do anything to dissuade the well-informed environmentalists who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline and the tar sands. I am not even sure if it will have any positive effect on the average American citizen who may know or care little about environmental issues. My own personal, immediate reaction was that the ads seemed propagandist and slightly desperate. In fact, they actually did a bit to damage my normally very positive image of Canada. There has to be a better way for Canadian PD to communicate and engage American publics about these sensitive but crucial issues, without, in the words of Nathan Cullen, engaging in “green-washing” about its damaged reputation as an environmentally conscious nation.

3 thoughts on “Canada’s ‘Environmentally Friendly’ Brand in Jeopardy?”

  1. Monika,

    Thanks for this interesting follow-up to the Potter article. I agree that green-washing is a liability and one that is especially noticed by millennials, but also by older generations 😉

    -Debbie Trent

Leave a Reply to Debbie Trent Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *