VANCOUVER—Can’t find a job? Put away the skinny jeans and the thick-rimmed glasses, the B.C. government is suggesting.
The province has unveiled a series of billboards on campuses and transit lines hoping to encourage young people get a job. But the ads appear to have sparked only disdain from the audience it’s aiming to reach with slogans such as “Hipster is not a full-time job” and “Oh sure, you’ll definitely win the lottery,” prompting some on Twitter to note, sarcastically, that it’s not easy wearing old-school sneakers or growing a scruffy beard.
“These ads are offensive and in poor taste because they imply youths are just sitting around and not wanting to gain employment,” said Katie Marocchi, chairperson of the Canadian Federation of Students in B.C. “It shows how this government is disconnected from reality when they insist there’s no money to invest in post-secondary and then they spend money telling us it’s all our fault.”
Marocchi said she especially disliked the ad that says “Because marrying rich may not pan out.”
The $604,000 campaign coincided with the start of the school year. Andy Watson, public affairs officer with the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, said Cossette was the advertising agency that came up with the campaign. Neither Cossette nor Pat Bell, the minister for the department that launched the anti-hipster ads, responded to request for comment.
Gwen O’Mahony, the NDP’s skills training critic, said students find the ads offensive.
“They get the ads are trying to use humour but it just seems they’re not connecting with the audience,” she said.
According to B.C. Stats figures released last week, residents between the ages of 15 to 24 have a 14.7 per cent unemployment rate; that compares to a 6.5 per cent unemployment rate for the overall B.C. population.
Cameron Bell, associate director of campus sustainability with the Northern Undergraduate Student Society at the University of Northern B.C. in Prince George, said the campaign’s website itself is good and helps young people look for work or consider training. But the focus, Bell added, is on industrial jobs.
“We know the government is clearly promoting a jobs plan and there’s all these jobs for ship building and industrial work but you can’t force people to take on a particular job in this day and age and certainly not with the message they’re using that being a hipster is not a real job,” said Bell.
University of Victoria Students’ Society chair Emily Rose said the reaction to the ads is taking away from the message that B.C. youths face chronic unemployment.
“There’s no bachelor of hipsterdom offered and people understand hipster is a style of dress so it just doesn’t make sense to associate being a hipster with real jobs. They’ve really lost the message,” she said.