'Hipster Is Not a Real Job'

An ad campaign from British Columbia backfires.

"Hipster is not a real job" — That's one of the key messages of a new ad campaign launched by the Canadian province of British Columbia. Have a look at the ads below, which appear on campuses and in transit lines in the province.

All images courtesy of B.C.'s Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training Communications Office

The six-week ad campaign (started in August) is part of the province's broader plan to create new jobs, upgrade skills, and better-match workers to employment opportunities. The ads point to the "Career Trek" website, which includes a video series aimed at interesting young people in a range of careers. The videos consist of interviews with professionals in various fields — a lawyer, human resources specialist, mine manager, midwife, pharmacist, and so on. Each video is matched with data on average salaries, unemployment levels, and education and skill requirements in those careers. Each short concludes with the tag-line "this career could be yours."

The ads, obviously designed to grab the attention of young people in an area with no shortage of hipsters, have set the media and Twitterverse abuzz. The problem is much of that buzz has been decidedly negative.

As Emily Rogers, chair of the University of Victoria Students' Society, told the Toronto Star: "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."

And that's the problem with tag-lines and campaigns like this. They tread a fine line and can easily backfire. Hit the mark and they can stimulate interest and buzz. Over-shoot it, and the message can be missed entirely.

About the Author

  • Richard Florida is Co-founder and Editor at Large of CityLab.com and Senior Editor at The Atlantic. He is director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto and Global Research Professor at NYU. More
    Florida is author of The Rise of the Creative ClassWho's Your City?, and The Great Reset. He's also the founder of the Creative Class Group, and a list of his current clients can be found here