Picture this. Early 2007, a boardroom meeting with about a dozen dozing gently civil servants, Jeff Newton, The Beer Store’s all round spokesperson and Mr. Fix-it, and Sarah Taylor, TBS Communications Manager. Also on hand was the chief fox among the chickens, Bill Kennedy, LCBO Deputy Communications Gonzo.
It’s the 11th hour, just before launching the take-your-empties-back pitch to a gleeful and grateful Ontario public. Legions of staff had been working 10- and 12-hour days on this thing for months and most were expecting that the LCBO would cough up, as promised, the $1.5 million to market the message over the longer term. Idea was to keep telling happy shoppers that they can get their dime or two-bits back when they take their booze containers to The Beer Store and help the environment to boot.
Bill explained, as if he were talking to a roomful of trainable monkeys, that the money had simply disappeared. Oh, there was some horseshit about how much LCBO marketing budget had already been spent on logo development, letter-sized posters, decals and few hundred plastic bags blah blah blah. By then, they’d actually spent, about $35K, which was supposed to be independent of the 1.5 million smackers, truth be told. But that’s not Bill’s department.
Any questions from snivel servants or The Beer Store were quickly dismissed like so many mosquitoes around Bill’s head. Silence was deafening from the Environment Ministry’s Assistant Comm Director John (Arrogant Worm) Whytock. Not one question.
Back story on this is there’d been a royal dust-up between Environment Minister Laurel Broten and Infrastructure Minister David Caplan because neither of them wanted this caper. Caplan’s ministry got stuck doing all the work, while Broten and crew got most of the credit and were set to inherit the deal post-announcement. They didn’t want it and took it like champion sourpusses as did their bureaucrats.
Not getting the marketing dollars was music to Why Talk’s ears because it meant that his bunch could carry on with whatever they were doing and not have to do any work to promote the empties for the environment gig, because, duh, there was no money in the budget to do it.
In any case, the whole meeting left The Beer Store duo, Jeff and Sarah, uncharacteristically at a loss for words. Sputtering was as close as either of them got to human speech as they realized the rug had been pulled out from under them.
Uncle Bill declared the meeting over and rolled back to the LCBO Summerhill head office bunker, pockets a-jingle. Where’d the money go?
Why does the LCBO take credit for the program’s success in all their annual reports since? Why don’t the news media ask Bill?