Canada's $24M Keystone ad campaign falls flat

Ads blanketing the Washington, D.C. metro system meant to tout Canada's image, and boost support for the Keystone XL oil pipeline among policymakers, aren't working, according to a survey.

The $24 million, taxpayer-funded international ad blitz was meant to convince lawmakers that "Canada is a secure, reliable and responsible supplier of crude oil," said Jacinthe Perras, a spokeswoman for the Canadian government, according to CBC News.

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The campaign started in 2013 in publications and online but then took to Washington's bus and metro stations, declaring Canada as a "friend and neighbor," and "America's best energy partner" with images of the two nation's flags side by side.

Others showed workers moving pipeline materials, and said "America and Canada: Standing together for energy independence."

But a survey commissioned by the Canadian government revealed that 17 percent of people in the U.S. thought the campaign was just about the friendship between the two countries.

Out of the 750 surveyed who saw at least one of the ads, 11 percent thought it was about the Keystone pipeline. Additionally, 5 percent thought the ads were to tout Canada's position as a major energy supplier, and 3 percent thought the goal was to push Canadian oil.

One expert in U.S.-Canada relations at the Hudson Institute in Washington told CBC News that the campaign's message was not strong.

"It was too Canadian; it was very polite. You were not saying anything particularly controversial, just reminding us, by the way, we’re your friends," Christopher Sands said.

The State Department is currently waiting for litigation surrounding a portion of Keystone XL's route to be resolved before resuming its final national determination review.

The battle surrounding Keystone has become about energy independence and has strained relations with Canada's government.