‘Made in Manitoba’

Experts question whether catchphrase is overused

  • Ayame Ulrich

The term “Made in Manitoba” has recently been used to describe initiatives ranging from seniors’ accessibility legislation to food advertising campaigns – leaving some marketing experts wondering whether the phrase captures or muddles Manitoba’s identity.

“What is brand Manitoba?” asked Dheeraj Sharma, associate professor of marketing and international business at the University of Winnipeg. “Once we have defined that, then we can have an array of products that fit well with brand Manitoba. Randomly defining brand Manitoba, however, is going to be a futile effort.”

One such attempt to brand Manitoba is the province’s Oct. 18 funding announcement of nearly $750,000 to support two years of a new five-year Buy Manitoba local food advertising campaign.

Designed and delivered in partnership with industry and the Manitoba Food Processors Association, the Buy Manitoba program aims to increase Manitobans’ awareness of the availability of locally grown and locally processed foods, said Joëlle Saltel-Allard, press secretary for the Manitoba legislature.

She notes that the province and industry partners will turn first to talented local designers in the creation of the Buy Manitoba ad campaign.

“We ... believe Manitobans’ interest in buying local goes beyond only food,” Saltel-Allard said. “So as we design the campaign to promote locally grown and locally processed foods, it is certainly very important that we ‘walk the talk’ and look first to the creative resources we have right here at home.”

According to Saltel-Allard, provincial funding beyond the two-year commitment could be increased in small amounts based on matching contributions from industry partners.

You’re going to plaster the name ‘Made in Manitoba’ across a broad range of products and services – however, that label might end up being ignored by the consumer if there’s no fit between the products and where they’re made.

Dheeraj Sharma, associate professor of marketing and international business, University of Winnipeg

The success of these types of programs in increasing consumers’ positive views of Manitoba goods depends on the fit between the products and how genuine that product is to that region, cautions Sharma.

Wheat products might be one natural fit for Manitoba, Sharma notes, as they abound in Manitoba and consumers are invested in the quality of this product.

Another initiative that has been labelled “Made in Manitoba” is new legislation that aims to increase accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities. This is termed “Made in Manitoba” because it will be developed based on public feedback.

“There is no money going into creating an advertising or awareness campaign about this new legislation,” said Rachel Morgan, a communications representative for Jennifer Howard, minister of labour and immigration, one of the ministers pushing for the creation of the law.

“The phrase ‘Made in Manitoba’ is used across a variety of provincial initiatives to show the value of what we’re introducing, be it legislation, support for the tourism industry or agricultural products,” Morgan said.

Sharma wonders what impact such widespread use of the term “Made in Manitoba” will have on its value.

“You’re going to plaster the name ‘Made in Manitoba’ across a broad range of products and services – however, that label might end up being ignored by the consumer if there’s no fit between the products and where they’re made,” Sharma said.

Published in Volume 65, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 18, 2010)

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