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Marketing fail of the week: Canadian Telecom

The executives at Bell Canada, Rogers Communications and Telus think Canadians are stupid. All 34 million of us.

That is the only conclusion there is to explain the latest collaborative move from Canada’s three largest wireless companies against a potential move by U.S.-based Verizon Wireless from entering Canada. The three corporate giants worked together to produce a hastily made video that was released on YouTube yesterday. They also placed full-page newspaper ads today. Called Fair for Canada, the video tells why allowing Verizon entrance into the wireless market is bad for Canada. They failed. Terribly.

In the eyes of consumers, these companies might as well have called their production We hate competition or We have little respect for our customers. To produce something that is so egregiously condescending towards Canadians is an insult.

Why it failed

It wasn’t genuine – In productions like these, companies have employees (or at least actors claiming to be employees) stand in their ad and read something from a cue card behind the camera. In this case however it backfires – it’s not too convincing when one of them talks about how the situation angers them while they are reading lines that have clearly been assigned to them. It would have been more effective if they would have interviewed random people on the street who were voicing opposition (not that they would find many). It doesn’t mean much coming from an employee of the company producing the video. It lacks credibility.

It was vague and partially based on assumptions – When Amanda says “will there be thousands of job losses… think about it,” she says it in a tone that reads “this is probably not true, but I’ll try to convince you anyways.” Why should any company be expected to bring jobs and leave profits in Canada? Do any multinationals? Amanda assumes she won’t be able to get service in Moncton. Louise-Michele pleads for “fairness” for all of Canada, as if providing more competition, and therefore lower prices and better service, wasn’t really fair. Samia and Amanda appeal to the nationalists among us, with total disregard for the global economy and free trade.

In newspaper ads, they claim that Americans pay more for wireless services than Canadians. If that were true then why are Bell, Rogers and Telus all concerned about Verizon entering the market?

It did not convince – I had to look no further than my own Facebook feed to see this:


Canadian consumers aren’t stupid and we take exception to those companies that think we are. The wireless market in this country lacks true competition and will welcome another carrier to Canada. This marketing effort does little more than convince Canadians that this country’s Telecom companies could care less about them.

Bell, Rogers and Telus won’t be able to talk their way out of this one. Because like Fiona says – they aren’t winning any hearts.

About Greg Markey

Greg is a social media and digital marketing consultant who loves writing about business, technology, innovation and startups. He holds a degree in political science and history from St. Francis Xavier University, as well as a diploma in Journalism from Algonquin College. He lives in Edmonton with his wife and three kids..


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