'Way North Foods' fake ads take aim at Nunavut's high food prices
Calgary-based ad company hopes videos raise awareness of Northern food insecurity
A Calgary-based ad company is helping Nunavut's Feeding my Family advocacy group take another crack at fighting the high price of food in Canada's Arctic.
WAX Partnership Incorporated has produced fake ads on YouTube for a fictional grocery store called Way North Foods, showcasing actual prices of food in Nunavut with slogans like "Nobody offers you less for more."
Chris Lihou, the creative writer behind the idea, describes it as a "shareable, relatable" way of informing southern Canadians about the issue of food insecurity in the North.
"By using the really familiar grocery store ads that we all see, where you have smiling people and cheery jingles and all the rest of it and they're all touting how great their deals are, we thought it would be interesting to invert that and have them be really excited about these high deals," he said.
Lihou said he first became aware of the issue himself when media posted photos that people in Nunavut had taken of prices on their local grocery store shelves.
He and his co-workers were surprised to learn about the high prices, and started talking about ways to spread awareness of the issue in southern Canada.
"A lot of us don't know that those prices are that high, and of course that affects families that have a hard time making ends meet," he said.
They contacted Leesee Papatsie, the Iqaluit-based founder of the Feeding My Family advocacy group, for input and came back to her with a concept.
"We showed it to her; she loved it," said Lihou. "And then we began the long road of getting it produced.
"Because we were doing everything for free, we had to rally as many people as we could. We rallied a lot of really great people here in Calgary — Joe Media, our production partner; Six Degrees, the audio house that did the jingle and all the music and the voiceover.
"We had to find a grocery store that would let us shoot in their store, and that was a challenge until we found a really generous woman at Family Foods in Calgary that allowed us to come in during the day and do it. As well as just finding actors ... everything was pro bono, everybody helped out."
In fact, everyone in the videos is a WAX employee, except for one older man who is a professional actor.
From the initial concept last spring, it took until the end of the year to finish the videos.
"We understand the issue is complex," said Lihou. "What we really is hope is to get people thinking about it."
Papatsie said she's pleased with the final result.
"I'm really grateful that [the videos] came out," she said.
She said she hopes southern Canadians will take note of the fake ads and help advocate for cheaper food in Nunavut.