Military scraps offensive aboriginal recruitment ad

A Canadian Forces aboriginal recruiting ad that likened building a canoe to serving on a warship was torpedoed after focus groups found it “offensive to the point of being comical,” says a newly released report. Groups in Vancouver were so put off by the radio spot, in fact, that a polling firm warned airing it […]

A Canadian Forces aboriginal recruiting ad that likened building a canoe to serving on a warship was torpedoed after focus groups found it “offensive to the point of being comical,” says a newly released report.

Groups in Vancouver were so put off by the radio spot, in fact, that a polling firm warned airing it could hurt the military’s reputation.

“Although commentary was at times measured from participants, likely due to awareness of being observed and politeness, body language clearly reinforced the negative reactions among two groups in Vancouver,” says a report completed in March.

“Indeed the degree of offence was deemed to be high, posing a potential risk to the reputation of the Forces were this ad to be released publicly, at least in British Columbia.”

The radio spot was meant to recruit engineers. The pollster’s report does not include a transcript or description of the ad beyond the reaction it elicited, but it apparently featured a young man and his grandfather talking about the similarities between canoe-making and working on a warship.

What’s clear is that the ad rubbed people in Vancouver the wrong way.

“I’m offended by the canoe,” one person told the pollsters. “It’s stereotypical, but in a bad way.”

Said another: “It’s disrespectful to grandfather to say, ‘My canoe is bigger than yours.”’

The comparison between making a canoe and working on a warship left others scratching their heads.

The pollsters suggested it was best to deep-six the ad. “Indeed, many felt that it was offensive to the point of being comical,” the report says.

The Defence Department did not provide a copy or a transcript of the ad, but a spokeswoman said it was not used.

The radio spot was among several recruitment efforts put to aboriginal and non-aboriginal focus groups. The results of that testing were only recently published online.

OtherĀ ads fared much better. People seemed to like radio and video testimonials about different military jobs.

Pollsters held six focus groups with aboriginals aged 18 to 34 in Vancouver, Sept-Iles, Que., and Iqaluit. Another six focus groups with the same age group were conducted with non-aboriginals in Vancouver, Sept-Iles and Halifax.

The military has taken great pains to avoid offending any potential new recruits. A “disaster check” done late last year by another research firm sought to ensure recruitment efforts in Cantonese, Mandarin, Punjabi, Tagalog and Urdu did not offend people who speak those languages.

Brands Articles

Your Marketing newsletters are changing

The Marketing Morning Filter is ending, but other newsletters are set to return

The List: North Strategic’s very big year

Prior to being picked up by MSLGroup, the PR shop brought in 15 new client wins

The biggest stories in Canadian marketing: 2016

A look back at the most read and shared news items from MarketingMag.ca

Media Profile teams with global PR group

PRGN welcomes Toronto agency as first Canadian partner

Stereo+ unveils brand overhaul from Lg2boutique

How to to introduce a 35-year-old chain to younger shoppers

The List: Wattpad’s evolving influence

The first of our selections for the biggest newsmakers of 2016

Sears Canada takes a gamble on groceries

Losses more than double in Q3 report, but food markets set to arrive

Big opportunities await in the new age of CSR (column)

Overwhelmed consumers want to outsource their consciences, but it requires deep trust

Mintel predicts packaging trends for 2017

Research firm says intelligent, experiential packaging will lead consumer experiences