Wednesday, March 18, 2009

It's a magic place

I don't know if it's just the channels I've been watching lately, a sign of just how cheap TV advertising has become during an economic downswing or perhaps they just have lots of money to burn, but I've seen a lot of the Newfoundland Tourism ads this year.

In case you've missed them, here's an example, via YouTube.

Pretty, isn't it?

Here's the thing, I don't actually recognize the place in these ads. It looks like Newfoundland via Narnia. Yes, I've never been to Gros Morne and can't really comment on those ads. But my lovely, and very ethical, wife has been there many times, and she can. Her reaction?
"Where's all the rain? And the fog that obscures all the beautiful views? Did they manage to film that on the one day a year where it's not actually pouring rain with fog in Gros Morne?"

Hell, I barely recognize St. John's in some of the other ads. I feel like I'm in a Talking Heads song watching that ad. "That's not my beautiful city..."

It's too clean, too bright, too....pretty.

I don't mean to disparage Newfoundland and lord knows not my wonderful hometown. And yes, I'm aware that there isn't a tourism marketer in the world that doesn't exaggerate the charms of a place while turning a blind eye to its drawbacks. But watching those ads are deeply weird. It's like someone dipped Newfoundland into magic paint.

Or, like I said, this is an alternate version of Newfoundland. Where it's always bright and sunny (instead of RDF), where all the houses are quaint and have fresh, brightly coloured coats of paint (as opposed to being modern with aluminum siding), where there are lots of small, beautiful children with big smiles on their face running around outside (as opposed to being inside playing video games and being on Facebook. Also, Cathy wants to know where their parents are when they're running next to cliffs), there's no power lines running through a World Heritage Site (didn't think we forgot about that, did you?) and there's no garbage on the streets (there are a lot of sea gulls in St. John's. They are clever and determined).

It's a beautiful place. I'd like to live there. Can someone point me in the direction of the right magic wardrobe that's secretly a portal to take me to this enchanted fairy realm?

Last Five
1. Let's go crazy - Prince*
2. Suede - Tori Amos
3. If I ever lose my faith in you - Sting
4. Vengeance is sleeping - Neko Case
5. The magnificent seven (live) - The Clash


WJM said...

It's too clean, too bright, too....pretty. [...] But watching those ads are deeply weird. It's like someone dipped Newfoundland into magic paint.

They jacked up the saturation. Way up.

Anonymous said...

I have been to Gros Morne several times in the last 15 years. I have been there when it is foggy and wet but I have also been there when we have had spectacular weather -- blue sky, warm warm sun, and gasp, that rarity, summer breezes instead of winter gales. The weather is NOT that bad here all the time. :)

Anonymous said...

Yes that alternate universe of Newfoundland.
-The same place where WJM and Ed work in the Premiers office for Danny.
-Ryan Cleary is a federalist.
-Danny parts his hair on the side.
-Summer lasts longer than 3 weeks in St. John's

towniebastard said...

You know, I've said that I have about three other books I like to write, assuming I can get the current one finished. Those alternate history novels (What if the Nazis won WWII, that sort of thing) are still kind of popular.

I can think of a few interesting novels to be played with on the premise of alternate histories of Newfoundland. Most of the plot lines don't involve happy, magical fairy lands, though.

Adam Snider said...

I have convinced myself that Newfoundland---St John's in particular---looks exactly like those ads. I expect to be thoroughly disappointed when Sara takes me to the homeland this summer.

Then again, just about every city in the world is more attractive than Edmonton, so I'll probably be astounded that a Canadian city can actually look kind of nice.

Dups said...

Adam, St. John's even in fog (and perhaps especially in fog) is a very pretty city, take it from a guy who lived in Edmonton for 6+ years :)

These ads seemed to be filmed in HDR and that boosts the colour range. Very very very pretty ads but seriously not at all reality unless you have HDR goggles.

I like the ads because they are beautiful, I dislike the ads because they don't portray reality and that always annoys me. Newfoundland is beautiful without having to mess with the saturation and colour range.


Geoff Meeker said...

In the ad above, the colours are saturated, yes, but not excessively. Those downtown row houses ARE pretty colourful. And the shots are selective - they managed to leave out Atlantic Place, and the other less attractive buildings in the city.

That said, what sets this ad apart are the shooter and director's remarkable skills of composition. These clips weren't grabbed in a couple of days toodling around St. John's (and environs). Every shot is meticulously composed by someone with a very good eye. On that level, this ad is world class- as much as I hate that term.

Oh, and the weather in Gros Morne, when I've visited, has been good, four days out of five. A lot better than here on the east coast.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to go home this summer!

Anonymous said...

Yes, that would be a great idea Craig. Make advertising that makes people NOT want to buy the product. That has to be the stupidest thing I have heard so far this fucking year.

Adam Snider said...

Dups - It's not hard to be prettier than Edmonton. As much as I love my hometown, I have to admit that it's an ugly city. That said, I do imagine that St. John's is pretty beautiful even without the HDR effects.

WJM said...

In the ad above, the colours are saturated, yes, but not excessively. Those downtown row houses ARE pretty colourful. And the shots are selective - they managed to leave out Atlantic Place, and the other less attractive buildings in the city.

Yeah, the skyline shot is squeezed in between, what, Atlantic Place and the Quality?

And yes, St. John's is colourful, but the saturation on that shot (looks like a well-polarized lens, with post-production tinkering with the saturation and the histogram) is pushing up against artificiality. But that's TV, esp. TV advertising.

I wonder as well about the rural scenes: are those the indigenous colours of the houses and boats, or were they prettyized for the cameras?

The Gros Morne colours are much more natural - especially on a sunny day in late September or early October you wouldn't need any special effects to get some pretty incredible colour out of the natural foliage. The greens are crisper, and there are lots of ground covers that turn amazing shades of red. I've seen the same thing in Labrador and northern Quebec.

(Speaking of... when is Newfoundland AND LABRADOR tourism ever going to use any iconic imagery of Labrador? 72% of the scenery you think might count for something...)