A new tongue-in-cheek ad campaign aims to make Bowen Island seem unappealing in the most appealing way possible.
“Bowen Island: Tell your friends it’s awful here,” reads one of the slogans created by Vancouver-based creative agency Rethink. Other phrases and characters aim to emphasize the slow pace of island life and a local resistance to increased tourism.
“I think the campaign was reflecting the quirkiness and sense of humour that a lot of people on Bowen Island have,” Rethink co-founder Chris Staples told Daily Hive. “The central paradox of Bowen is that we rely on tourists and businesses need people to come out here for day trips, go to the golf course, and that kind of stuff. But Bowen is such a special place, that we don’t want to ruin it.”
Staples lives on Bowen Island for half the year, and Vancouver for the other half. He describes the little island as Vancouver’s “best kept secret.”
“We want to keep it a semi-secret. We want to open the door, but not open the flood gates. This ironic campaign is almost a message from islanders saying ‘it’s really special here, come over and take a look, but know this is a special place worthy of being a secret.'”
Staples and his team presented the campaign to Bowen Island’s municipal council and he says it was approved unanimously. The campaign has yet to officially launch, but it’s been getting quite a bit of attention, including from US publication Adweek.
Inspiration for the team at Rethink came from the grassroots movement in Portland called “Keep Portland Weird.” Staples says it was the same kind of “defiant welcome” they were looking for while researching ideas for the Bowen Island campaign.
Several characters are incorporated into the campaign, including a defiant deer that Staples describes as a “curmudgeon”, a friendly slug, a seal who wants you to “dive in and try new things,” and an nature-loving eagle.
All of the typeface and characters are hand drawn.