Nova Scotia

Spring Garden's 'whimsical' commercial faces scrutiny

The video was released by the Spring Garden Area Business association and has had more than 55,000 views — as well as some negative comments from people who think it must be a joke or are concerned it perpetuates gender stereotypes.

Some business owners say the online video doesn’t make sense and doesn’t accurately portray the area

Spring Garden Road is the subject of a new video drawing some controversy online. (Stephanie Clattenburg/CBC)

Two Spring Garden-area business owners are criticizing a commercial meant to draw people to the Halifax retail district in a fun, lighthearted way and are calling for it to be removed from the internet.

Titled Simply Magic, the video portrays two women shopping and drinking as they encounter shrinking shopping bags, wine glasses that automatically refill, glowing ice-cream and lollipops growing from trees.

It was released by the Spring Garden Area Business association and has had more than 55,000 views online — as well as some negative comments from people who think it must be a joke or are concerned it perpetuates gender stereotypes.

"I don't think it really makes sense and I don't think it's really highlighting all the great things that are in this area," said Johanna Galipeau, owner of Sweet Pea Boutique, which is featured in the video, although she asked that her logo not be used because she didn't like the original script.

Courtney Jones, owner of Better Than Her Boutique, said she didn't like the comment made by one of the actresses in the video that "Everything in here makes my butt look amazing. This hat makes my butt look amazing."

Instead, Jones said, she could have said. "'This outfit makes me feel confident in myself,' because women have a hard enough time getting away from the stereotype that they need to look a certain way."

Courtney Jones, owner of Better Than Her Boutique on Spring Garden Road, said the video released by the area business association is confusing. (Stephanie Clattenburg/CBC)

John Young, a member of the board of directors for the Spring Garden Road Business Association, said the video was intended to stimulate discussion.

"It's not intended to be a morality play, it's not intended to preach, it's not intended to be a documentary, it's just a little bit of whimsy and fun. Relax and enjoy it. Get a life," said Young.

He added: "If we'd run a straight black-and-white print campaign saying, 'We have stores, please come and shop,' nobody would have cared."

Juanita Spencer, the executive director of the business association, said in email the organization has heard some negative comments around the content. But she said that's subjective and they've also heard from hundreds of people who "understand the whimsical nature of the video."

"No, lollipops don't grow on trees in Spring Garden but when we talked to people prior to making the video it was very interesting to see how the area means something different and 'magical' to everyone. We looked for a fun way to capture that." 

John Young, member of the board of directors for the Spring Garden Area Business Association, said the video is meant to be whimsical. (Dave Laughlin/CBC)

Ed McHugh, who teaches marketing at the Nova Scotia Community College, said the ad is over-the-top and cheesy, and while he doesn't like it personally, he sees the intent behind it.

He said the aim of advertising is to break through the "clutter" of all the messages people receive daily and find something they will notice.

"People have started to notice this piece of promotion," he said.

Galipeau and Jones, who both say the video should be removed, also say it's confusing and doesn't portray the many wonderful things about the Spring Garden area.

Johanna Galipeau has been the owner of Sweet Pea Boutique, on Queen Street, just off Spring Garden Road, for 10 years. (Stephanie Clattenburg/CBC)

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