B.C. Premier was part of Olympic ad campaign

By BOB MACKIN, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER - The British Columbia government spent $44.4 million of taxpayers’ funds on advertising in 2009-2010, including $36.7 million on the “You Gotta Be Here” Olympic tourism campaign.

But documents obtained by QMI show the Public Affairs Bureau-led campaign was also about promoting Premier Gordon Campbell to voters.

Two undated versions of the government’s Olympic marketing plan say “voting age” British Columbians were a key target audience. The first version, which proposed the “BC 2010: Ignite the Dream” slogan, called for “special Premier focused promotions, handouts and premiums.” Funding, public concerns and the unstable economy were among the challenges noted.

A second version showed a shift from international marketing to “audiences in Canada (including B.C.) and the U.S” and to encourage B.C.-wide support for the Games.

“This is a thinly disguised way to buy people off with their own money to attach the B.C. Liberals to the success of the Olympics,” B.C. NDP tourism critic Spencer Chandra Herbert said. “It is PAB leading this, the government’s propaganda shop.”

The second document indicated a post-Games campaign would launch across Canada and the U.S. in April.

Tourism B.C. did stage a one-off promotion in San Francisco while the summer phase of “You Gotta Be Here” is targeted to B.C. residents. A new TV ad stars B.C. Olympic gold medallists Scott Niedermayer, Ashleigh McIvor and Denny Morrison.

The original campaign that aired on both sides of the border during the Games included Steve Nash, Michael J. Fox and Sarah McLachlan set among B.C. nature scenes.

Documents obtained by QMI show Vizeum Canada planned a $17.255 million ad buy on NBC and $7 million on CTV. As part of the NBC expenditure, producers of The Office wrote the Vancouver Olympics into the script of an episode.

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