‘Experience Regina’: Canadian city apologizes for sexualized tourism campaign

Tribune Content Agency

A group in charge of tourism in Regina, the capital city of Saskatchewan, a province in western Canada, is apologizing for leaning into sexual innuendos as part of its recently unveiled rebranding campaign.

“We just went too far,” Tim Reid, CEO of the organization formerly known as Tourism Regina, said in an interview on Monday.

Reid was referring to the organization’s rebranded name of “Experience Regina,” as well as several new slogans that received criticism online.

The phrase “Experience Regina” has been used to make fun of the city of about 230,000 people for years. It even received its 15 minutes of internet fame after a faux advertisement for the city featuring a song titled “Experience Regina” went viral over a decade ago. The song was rediscovered by NBC late-night host Jimmy Fallon, who featured it in a 2018 episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.”

But late last week, the city’s tourism group made the joke official by changing its name to “Experience Regina” and releasing a series of new taglines designed to promote tourism in the city. These included “Show us your Regina,” “The city that rhymes with fun,” and “Make Regina sexy.”

The rebranding received quick backlash from residents who felt the campaign sexualized women’s bodies and normalized sexual behaviors that are harmful to women.

“It’s toxic,” Cindy Hanson, professor of sociology and social studies at the University of Regina, told CTV News Regina. “Saskatchewan and Regina have among the highest rates of violence against women in this country. It’s unconscionable that we would actually consider this fun.”

Kristen McLeod, a former Tourism Regina board member, slammed the rebranding saying it unnecessarily sexualized the city, while others expressed their frustration on social media.

Cheryl Stadnichuk, a local politician, wrote on Facebook she was “incredibly disappointed and appalled” with the “sexist messaging” of the rebranding, saying the slogans “objectify women’s bodies.”

“What kind of tourists, businesses and residents are they hoping to attract?” a Twitter user named Janice Braden asked. “How many people signed off on this horrible rebrand?” echoed Twitter user Daryl Grunau.

On Sunday, Reid apologized for “the negative impact we created with elements of our recent brand launch.”

Despite receiving early positive feedback around the rebranding, “it was clear that we fell short of what is expected from our amazing community with some of the slogans that we used,” he said. “Regardless of our intent, the impact is valid, and for that, we apologize.”