By Drew McLachlan
If you live in British Columbia, odds are you’ve seen the video below about a million times. It’s not a Tourism BC advertisement or the new video for that chillwave band your coworker told you about — it’s one of the many ads produced for Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, which are constantly being beamed into the homes, cars, and cell phones of British Columbians both on air and online. All feature footage of BC’s serene landscape (which is an interesting strategy for advertising a project whose strongest opposition has come from a slew of environmental groups), or somebody who just got a job with Enbridge praising the pipeline. (Takeaway: If you’re lucky, you could end up working for Enbridge too!)
The company’s aggressive marketing, however, has failed to penetrate at least a few hearts and/or minds. GatewayFacts.net, for example, has been created by an anonymous “Canadian Citizen” who claims to have no ties to either the project’s opponents or proponents, but who obviously knows something about west coast geography, not to mention flash animation.
For the most part, the website mimics Enbridge’s gatewayfacts.ca, though instead of photos of mystical rainforests it offers a close-up view of an oil spill, and clicking on headers like “benefits” or “environmental responsibility” sends users to online articles from the CBC, The Times Colonist, The Vancouver Sun, and several environmental organizations that are critical of the pipeline.
But the most noteworthy part of the parody is the Great Bear Gamble, a flash game in which players must dodge islands and orcas in order to deliver oil from Kitimat to China. Bumping into land prompts the screen to turn black, and the message “You have utterly ruined the Great Bear Rainforest!” to pop up.
Despite its no-budget look, the game uses a map that’s markedly more accurate than the one Enbridge has been disseminating, in that it actually includes the many islands and channels around which and through which the oil tankers will have to maneuver.
Enbridge may have sunk a lot more money into advertising Northern Gateway than Mr. or Ms. Citizen has into the Great Bear Gamble, but when it comes to mapmaking, reality still counts.