Well, you could argue that it’d be more accurate to say “The Canadian Wheat Board’s marketing strategy shows outdated and out-of-touch thinking,” but it’s a bit soon. Sometimes retro in marketing can work. Think Doritos chips. Or the BMW Mini.
What we’re discussing is this ad campaign, as described in The Globe and Mail:
“We wanted something that stood out, something that caught people’s attention and got people talking. And we got that,” said [CWB chief strategy officer Dayna Spring], adding the executive team approved it.
The advertising itself is urging farmers to sign up for the CWB’s winter pool, where crops from last year’s harvest are pooled together and sold by the CWB on farmers’ behalf.
You can find the full display of the ad here. I wouldn’t really call it overtly sexual, and it’s definitely attention-grabbing. I just wonder if it’s really appropriate for the target audience. We’re talking about farmers trying to unload their harvest, wondering where they can get the most cash from, and last time I checked not all farmers were male, amused by irony and thinking of their livelihood as a “lifestyle”. Which is pretty much what this ad is saying.
I’d suggest, though, that if this represents the thinking of the CWB executives’ mindset, then Ottawa was right to end their monopoly. Not because the ad is sexist (it isn’t, really), but because it misunderstands what they think a farmer wants from their marketer. Which is what happens when you get rusty at, well, marketing yourself.