Regina mayor says Experience Regina slogans were a 'misstep'

Last week’s Experience Regina’s launch included two slogans— “Show us your Regina” and “The city that rhymes with fun” — that drew a lot of criticism.

Masters says city has no control over whether private businesses use slogans

Woman answering questions at a press conference in front of sign that has Regina Written on it.
Regina's Mayor Sandra Masters answered questions about the controversy surrounding the city's controversial tourism rebrand on Wednesday. (CBC)

Regina Mayor Sandra Masters has responded to criticism of slogans used as part of a tourism rebrand for the city, saying they were a mistake.

Last week Tourism Regina rebranded to Experience Regina. The launch included two slogans— "Show us your Regina" and "The city that rhymes with fun" — that drew a lot of criticism online for sexualizing the city.

"They [slogans] were sexist and wrong. They hurt and impacted people," Masters told reporters Wednesday evening. "It's just bad for the city."

Experience Regina's CEO Tim Reid issued an apology for the slogans on Sunday and the organization scrubbed them from its website.

Masters told reporters Wednesday that the backlash came as a surprise to her, as city council previewed parts of the campaign launch but the controversial slogans weren't included.

"The inclusion of some of the language on the website, again, was not in the original package, so it was added at some particular point in time and wasn't reviewed," Masters said.

"I can admit that when we saw the [original] slide deck, we were really pleased with the slide deck.… I think everybody in the room was like, 'this is good, this makes sense.'"

Masters was at an Experience Regina launch event last Thursday where people in the crowd were wearing sweaters that had "The city that rhymes with fun" and the Experience Regina emblem imprinted on them.

"I think that it offends some people. I think again private businesses that want to sell it, and have been selling it for years, can do it," Masters told CBC Radio's The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger on Thursday.

"I think it's a misstep for the brand launch to have included it. I ultimately think what private businesses want to do is fine."

Masters said the Experience Regina logo is intended to be available for anybody who wants to use it.

LISTEN | Regina mayor adresses concerns about Experience Regina's marketing campaign: 
An off-key song about Regina and a number of slogans that embraced a sexy -- or sexist -- marketing campaign. Tourism Regina transformed into Experience Regina a week ago. We ask the mayor about the fallout.

How did the slogans make it into the marketing campaign?

Regina city council doesn't have oversight over Experience Regina's marketing decisions, according to the mayor. 

The rebrand marked the first significant move from Reid, also the CEO of Regina Exhibition Association Limited (REAL), since REAL was put in charge of the city's tourism organization last year.

"I've been assured that all of the inappropriate content has been removed and that a full review of the situation that led to the use of the inappropriate slogans is being looked at right now," Masters said on CBC Radio's The Morning Edition. 

"I think there's a board meeting tonight and I know this is front and centre on their agenda, so I look forward to the reports."

Masters noted on Wednesday that a manager was unexpectedly away in the time leading up to the brand launch.

"I think there was again a little bit of a lack of internal controls and absence of direct leadership," Masters said.

A man in a plue plaid suit poses for a photo
Tim Reid is the CEO of Experience Regina, the organization formerly known as Tourism Regina. He issued an apology for the controversial slogans on Sunday. (Alexander Quon/CBC)

Masters didn't specify whether there would be staffing changes at Experience Regina.

"I think the Experience Regina campaign minus the sexist slogans is a fantastic campaign," Masters said. 

Masters noted that Regina has been the city's name for over a century, and the jokes have been going on forever.

"I think when Mick Jagger said ["the city that rhymes with fun"] back in the mid-2000s he meant to imply that the women's bodies are to be celebrated. I think the problem is that it is denigrating when it's put out on a website associated with the City of Regina."

Masters said the rebranded tourism campaign aims to show visitors the arts, culture and sporting attractions the city has to offer.

"We want people to come experience our city, experience our people," Masters said. "They need to experience us because that's what makes us so great." 

The rebrand cost the city $30,000.

LISTEN | Reaction continues to pour in for Regina's rebrand as Experience Regina: 
Tourism Regina has left the city, to make way for its new brand Experience Regina. Reactions range from people cheering on the change to others calling it cringe-worthy. We hear from a Regina woman who wrote an open letter to the mayor and from a marketing expert.

With files from Daniella Ponticelli, Sam Samson and The Morning Edition