Warning: not safe for work (outside city limits anyway) - Macleans.ca

Warning: not safe for work (outside city limits anyway)


The National Farmers Union looks at an ad based on a classic pin-up, and its interpretation is that the new, competitive Canadian Wheat Board must be struggling in a liberalized agricultural market:

Glenn Tait, NFU board member, says: “We’ve heard that the CWB is having problems filling its pools. This ad seems to show the desperation that would suggest evidence of just that. Farmers have also reported that the agreements that the CWB made with other grain companies are being pushed to the back of the line. Elevators are favouring their own delivery contracts first, and only accept CWB deliveries if there is excess capacity.”

Tait says “Many long-time CWB supporters are deliberately marketing outside of the CWB as a statement of principle rather than a lack of loyalty. The choice signifies their rejection of the undemocratic process used to dismantle the CWB and the Harper government’s appropriation of our resources—farmers’ resources.”

Offensive CWB ad featuring exploited femaleI guess the “appropriation of resources” phrasing refers to the legal theory that the Liberals placed the old monopoly Wheat Board permanently beyond the reach of statute, making its powers a “resource” that was supposed to be the inviolable property of permit-book holders. At least I think that’s what Tait is getting at here. One of the NFU’s mandates is to fight stereotypes about farmers, so it’s not really too cool for him to be spreading goofy notions of precisely the sort one would expect to hear from an angry yokel in a cartoon.

My own interpretation of the ad, if I may dare advance one, is that the CWB, having been obliged by the government to compete for farmer business, is going out and competing for it. They had a “Still on the fence?” message to convey, and someone found an image to go with it—one that happens to work pretty well with an old-school brand. And while I wouldn’t expect an irony-phobic socialist to understand, any normal farmer is perfectly capable of grasping that objects originally considered merely functional or ephemeral can graduate with time into the category of fine art. (I assume, anyway, that farmers’ universal habit of collecting and restoring old farming equipment has something to do with this instinct.)

Heavens, what sort of literalist doofus cavils at the sauciness of a Gil Elvgren painting in the year 2013? Even in their original setting the point of these pin-ups was innocent flirtatiousness, as opposed to pornographic frankness; now, unexpectedly, the NFU finds an Elvgren classic to be a disgraceful departure from the ordinary standards of advertising. “They must be in dire straits to stoop so low,” huffs the Women’s Vice President of the union. Couldn’t the same be said of the NFU itself?


Warning: not safe for work (outside city limits anyway)

  1. My gawd, that ad just screams Alberta….Cons in general really. Years behind the times, and no doubt they think it’s cute.

    • I’m not sure which is funnier, the stereotype that you are describing (the Canadian Wheat Board is probably not full of raving conservatives) or the one you are living up to.

      • Yeah….all those Dippers and Libs the west elected eh?

        • You are referring to Ralph Goodale and Pat Martin?

    • The “woosh” you may have heard was the ad going over your head.

      • Nah, wind between your ears.

    • Actually that is the EXACT outfit I wore to the Stampede last year and I think EVERY other woman in Alberta wore it too…including Allison Redford and Danielle Smith. As for the CONS loving the Wheat Board…hmm, not so much. They did get elected on a platform to rid of its monopoly. Now Ralph Goodale, he loves the wheat board. Maybe the ad “screams” Saskatchewan or Manitoba or Northern B.C.

      • LOL and did you strike suggestive poses as well?

        The ad screams outdated, no matter what the cause. Alberta.

        • All silliness aside, vintage signs are popular art. If you go to online sites, you can actually get them personalized.

          • Yeah, I know…..but vintage….and cowgirl as well….was their worst possible choice. The suggestiveness obviously didn’t help.

  2. And remember, now that Harper has promised the CWB five years of subsidized existence, yoru tax dollars paid for this ad.

  3. An ad that shows a woman straddling anything or anybody in a short skirt with bare legs is simply not appropriate for anything serious. It isn’t necessarily offensive, but it is most certainly neither serious nor appropriate. If you cannot address your issue seriously through your advertising, then you cannot expect those who view the ad to take your issue seriously either. They’ll figure that out when they start determining the success of the ad — so far, it got huge media attention, but there is much more to success in advertising than attracting attention. So I bet their next ad isn’t as frivolous.

    • I am not sure that their next ad won’t be “so frivolous”. Remember, anything that garners attention for your product, whether it is positive or negative is seen as a win in advertising and this ad has certainly garnered attention. It was even in the Globe and Mail today. The wheat board must be delighted.

      • HI, I have worked in marketing and communications, including advertising, for many years, and no, it’s not just about attention. I realize it’s important to you to be right, and to correct others, but advertising is a business communication, and there are clear measures of success that a business needs and expects. It’s folly to let your ad agency run over you with their cute ideas, and any good creative director would agree with that. Just as you believe others, even dissenters to your beliefs, should understand that you have expertise in nursing (naming yourself a healthcare insider, an expert), well, maybe you should now and then understand you aren’t an expert in all fields. You aren’t alone: whenever we do focus testing on ads, it is clear that everyone who watches and reads them thinks they know what the desired effect is, but guess what? They aren’t usually right.

        • I detect a typical B.S. comment-thread claim of expertise.