You Can’t Keep a Great City Down

Leslie Gascoigne

That’s been the jumping off point for the Heart Soul Halifax campaign we developed for our partners at Discover Halifax. Encouraging Haligonians, Nova Scotians, and now Maritimers to rediscover all the activities, and experiences that make Halifax great.

Two issues of Halifax's The Coast newspaper displaying a colourful photo collage of famous city scenes encouraging tourism


When we were planning the campaign, there were a lot of factors to consider, and key among them was an authentic support of local while trying to keep costs as low as possible. You see, there was no guarantee at the outset of our planning that there would be adequate budgets to cover what was required.  Accordingly, many of the partners working with Discover Halifax on the campaign generously worked at reduced rates (including us). Local photographer Riley Smith captured images representing community buzz and newly-awakened city activity; Village Sound composed a custom music track and sourced and hired local musician Adam Baldwin to voice the video; plus the team at Discover Halifax scoured other photography supplied through public posts to their social channels to further ensure an authentic representation of a city we all love so much.  

Many of our media partners also have gone over and above the call of duty to help find unique ways to provide visibility and value to our campaign tactics. For instance, timing couldn’t have been better to take advantage of Neptune Theatre’s newly-freed up poster space on Argyle Street. The Chronicle Herald surprised us with an unexpected and appreciated outside back cover placement. Truro Buzz and Halifax Noise are helping to amplify our social content. 

And one element of the campaign in particular in which we take immense joy is July 9’s print version of The Coast’s 2020 Hot Summer Edition, the first print edition since the pandemic hit us.  

In planning the media side of the campaign, we and Discover Halifax always knew we wanted to include The Coast, and in exploring options with publisher Christine Oreskovich (yes, on a dreaded zoom call), our first question was to ask her when the Coast’s beloved print edition would be back on the streets. It was not so much Christine’s answer that surprised us, as her reply of “well, we’re hoping for September?” was really what we expected with all the uncertainty in a pandemic reality. What did set us back was the look on Christine’s face as she responded. While her voice was trying to convey reassurance, her eyes and expression reflected all that we had been emotionally facing as a company and indeed as a sector since the pandemic was announced. It was a look of “We will survive this. Yes, we are resolved we will come through it. But we are not really sure how. Or when. Or even if we will ever be the same”.  In that instant, we were galvanized. We knew we could make a print edition happen. I quickly asked her how much a limited print run cost. The answer she gave us was not daunting. I was pretty sure we could find sponsors to make a print edition happen. After all, what better representation is there of the heart and soul of Halifax than The Coast, a publication that has consistently and outspokenly celebrated all that Halifax has to offer for over two decades? This was not going to be hard to find support for. 

How pumped would the city be to wake up on an early summer Thursday and discover their beloved Coast was back in action with coverage of all the things we know will be happening in the city this summer? We were psyched. Christine immediately saw the possibilities of a one-off 2020 Hot Summer Edition. I immediately knew who we could approach to share the ‘seed’ cost in addition to Discover Halifax’s contribution: Atlantic Lottery Corporation, who have been long-time supporters of The Coast , and for which community is an inherent part of their brand; and Scotiabank Centre, the beating heart of this city that hosts key entertainment, sporting and cultural activities within its walls. Both organizations signed on without hesitation, and together with Discover Halifax, the print edition became a reality. The even better aspect of it was that as part of the sponsorship, The Coast was able to offer free space to some of the local businesses we knew needed it most. 

I am not sure I can point to a prouder moment in my career. Through all of emotional turmoil that has been the covid-ride-to-date (and there will be more turmoil to come, there is no doubt), to be able to be part of bringing the print edition of The Coast back, even if it’s for a one-off for now, feels pretty damn good. And to be part of a campaign that is helping to bring this city back to life feels even better. The collective teammates who helped make all this happen are very, very special people. It was the combined effort of all of us that really enabled it: clients, non-clients, supplier-partners and my cherished agency crew. All of you know who you are, I cannot thank you enough. You are a true reflection of a community coming together to believe in a vision and exemplify resilience. You more importantly embody a true passion and love for this great city and province. 

We are all so, so lucky to be able to call Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada our home. Let’s get out there and enjoy every second of it we can.

Colourful 16 photo collage with people, places and activities in Halifax. Backdrop to bubbled text: Heart. Soul. Halifax