Why The Globe and Mail produced a song for Explore Edmonton

Who: Explore Edmonton and Indigenous Tourism Alberta, with Globe Content Studio (The Globe and Mail); Cree musician, composer and sound designer Matthew Cardinal; and Storyline, Initiative’s content division.

What: “A Song Comes to Life,” a special advertising feature spotlighting three Indigenous tourism locations around Edmonton with print and digital content, as well as an original song.

When & Where: The digital experience launched first, with the song streaming on Apple Music and Spotify. The print executions ran in the Globe‘s Pursuits section on March 25.

Why: In part, this campaign was inspired by an earlier partnership between the Globe, Initiative, and Travel Alberta—a 10-part digital art installation entitled “The Art of Winter.

The project amplifies the work of Indigenous creators, while also promoting tourism to those interested in learning more about Canada’s First Nations.

“At the heart of our work at Explore Edmonton is the power of storytelling, to inspire people to experience a place, its culture and its people,” said Paul Hawes, vice-president of destination development and marketing at Explore Edmonton “It supports the work we are doing to develop a meaningful Indigenous tourism strategy.”

How: Cardinal wrote the song “Three Visits” after visiting three Indigenous tourism destinations: Whiskeyjack Art House, Métis Crossing, and River Cree Resort and Casino in Enoch Cree Nation. “My hope is when you listen to the song, you feel in community with the peoples and places that inspired it,” he said. “So much so that you’re moved to see them for yourself.”

Globe Content Studio produced an article about Cardinal’s experience of the three destinations and how they inspired his song.

“The song is not just a piece of art here, but the culmination of authentic Indigenous tourism experiences,” said Jessica Robinson, content lead at Globe Content Studio. “It’s a sonic representation of the thoughts and feelings captured in the article.” The Globe Content Studio has produced a song before, but this is the first time it has created one as a stand-alone piece of content carried on external publishers like Apple and Spotify.

The article was produced as an online digital first experience, but then adapted for print.

“What made the print execution so special is that the first page you see is entirely in Cree syllabics, down to the CTA for the QR code driving to the song,” said Robinson. “The intent here was to create an attention-grabbing print execution that sparked reader curiosity. Then, when you flip the page, you see the same layout, but in English. It gives the reader the clarity they were looking for, making them more likely to pay careful attention to the piece than if it were simply an English-only execution.”

And we quote: “By working with Indigenous creators to amplify Indigenous stories, we are able to better share the true stories of the peoples of this land and show Canadians the amazing Indigenous tourism experiences available in the Edmonton region. We hope this collaboration will inspire people to book a trip to deepen their understanding, connect with amazing people, and have some fun.” —Brenda Holder, chair, Indigenous Tourism Alberta

David Brown