Campaign by Bell, Rogers and Telus sparking some backlash
By Mark Gollom, CBC News
For several weeks now, the big three telecommunication firms — Bell, Rogers and Telus — have joined forces and waged a public relations blitz to win the hearts and minds of Canadians.
Their ‘Fair for Canada’ campaign seeks to rally the public to their side and “stand up for fair competition in Canada.” And they warn of the consequences of the federal government giving U.S.-based companies like Verizon Communications an unfair advantage to bid on valuable wireless spectrum.
But some telecom analysts question the effectiveness of the campaign, charging that their message is a tough sell to many wary consumers who have little love for their cellphone providers.
“[The telecom providers] haven’t paid attention to the fact — whether it’s reality or not — that the perception is they’re taking advantage of Canadian customers in the pocketbook and taking liberties with customer service,” said Mark Blevis, a digital public affairs analyst.
“So they haven’t built a relationship with the Canadian public. They’ve now turned to the Canadian public to come to their aid.”
Blevis did some analysis on the online response to the campaign and found that an “overwhelming number of people” have been critical of the campaign. It has given an excuse for those to complain about their providers’ service and many welcome Verizon, hoping a fourth carrier will provide lower prices.
The website and Fair for Canada slogan has been mocked. A few days after the Fair for Canada crusade kicked off, two counter-campaigns called Real Fair For Canada and Four for Canada launched. And a two-minute video showcasing the concerns of Bell, Telus and Rogers employees has been parodied and criticized.
Meanwhile, a poll by Forum Research a found that 57 per cent of Canadians support Verizon entering the Canadian market, and a majority believe its presence will lead to lower rates and better service.
“Canadians have sniffed this one out. They can tell what the big three are trying to do and it’s not going over well,” Blevis said.
“If they had inspired Canadians to protect the Canadian marketplace, that may have worked. Instead what they tried to do is get Canadians to protect them. And by all accounts, Canadians are not prepared to do that for the big three.”
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