Insights from Michael Bloomfield, Founder and Executive Director of the Harmony Foundation http://www.harmonyfdn.ca/
I work hard, very hard. Occasionally I treat myself to a movie, it’s a chance to relax and get away from it all. None of us like the annoying commercials that theatres expect us to sit through before the feature film or the silly celebrity worship quizzes. Now they’ve crossed the line, insulting our intelligence and expecting us to passively sit through a slick, Enbridge animation extolling the virtues and safety of the Northern Gateway Pipeline, a very controversial project that would cross hundreds of lakes and rivers as it takes oilsands bitumen from Alberta, across BC to West Coast ports and supertankers heading to China. As an animation conveys images of happiness and bliss, a soothing voice tells us “it’s a path to prosperity, a path to sustainability; it’s a path to our future.” Exasperated I cried, “stop the propaganda” as a round of applause and several “here heres” rang out. On our way out I left a note for the manager and when I arrived home I wrote to firstname.lastname@example.org. My message to each was polite and simple. “Commercials are bad enough but this stuff is one offense too many. You are putting yourself in the middle of a very contentious debate and unless you are taking sides I suggest you respect that reality. Otherwise you may find Cineplex embroiled in the fight. Is the ad revenue worth it?”
The reply from Cineplex Entertainment was neither surprising nor satisfying, more like predictable.
“Thank you for contacting regarding the advertisements prior to your film. We do apologise for the delay in response due to higher than normal volume of contacts to our department. The commercial ads, which play before the feature film, have become a standard in the film exhibition industry. As well, this revenue stream covers the constant increase in operational expenses that a business must endure in today’s economic environment. Please note that Cineplex does not share the opinions or ideas expressed in advertisements shown and we are contractually obligated to show these ads. We have forwarded your email to the media department for review and consideration. We thank you once again for contacting Cineplex Entertainment as your feedback is appreciated and valued.”
While I prepared my reply to Cineplex Entertainment my research revealed the disturbing news that under pressure the Province newspaper pulled an animation by editorial cartoonist, Dan Murphy, satirizing Enbridge’s massive ad campaign in support of its Northern Gateway pipeline. Good news should sell itself, I reckon. Why then I ask has Enbridge launched this massive campaign and engaged the services of PR firm Hill and Knowlton, well known for absurdities such as “advising the Chinese government in the wake of the Tiananmen massacre and setting up lobby groups for big tobacco ” – according to British journalist George Monbiot.
If you share my concerns make them known. I for one refuse to be played for a fool. Thanks.
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