Experience Regina — it’s a phrase that has been used to make fun of Saskatchewan’s capital city for years.
Regina’s name sounding similar to a word for genitalia helped a song about the city go viral. Now the city that rhymes with fun is attempting to own the joke, making the name of the song the new name of Regina’s tourism organization.
“It is an opportunity. When you travel globally and people talk about it, there’s a a moment of ‘What’s the city called again?'” said Tim Reid, CEO of Experience Regina.
“It just is what it is, so don’t shy away from it. It is the city’s name and we should be proud of it,”
The rebrand for the the organization previously known as Tourism Regina was unveiled on Thursday.
Reid and Mayor Sandra Masters were joined by Randy Boissonnault, the federal minister of tourism, as they premiered a music video covering a song that popularized the phrase “Experience Regina.”
The original video was uploaded to YouTube in 2008 and has been watched nearly 700,000 times in the 14 years since.
Melody and Tim, the pseudonyms of two Americans, created the song after one of them took a road trip across Canada in 2008, according to the Regina Leader-Post.
Full of synths, a hypnotic off-key lyricist and featuring a video of various locations around Regina, the video went viral.
It saw a new wave of popularity in 2018 after Jimmy Fallon played the song on The Tonight Show, prompting laughs from Fallon’s co-host, members of his band and its audience.
While its use brought attention to the song, even nabbing Fallon an invite to visit the city from then mayor-Michael Fougere, the city didn’t seize the opportunity at the time.
One of the companies that did was Rebellion Brewing.
The Regina microbrewery has been making merchandise with the slogan since it took off on Fallon.
“When something kind of just happens like that, you need to jump on it and run with it. So that’s what we did,” said Mark Heise, owner of Rebellion Brewing.
The decision has paid off.
The company’s T-shirts with the slogan are shipped across the globe and although Mark has stopped keeping track of how many they’ve sold, he knows it’s been one of their most popular products.
“It’s famous everywhere I travel. People want our stuff. They want the shirt off my back. There’s something to it,” he said.
While the song is an earworm, the rebrand for Regina’s tourism organization has received its fair share of criticism on social media.
Some people have pointed out the joke is a little off-colour, while others are calling it low brow humour.
Reid said that’s unavoidable.
“I think that that affiliation will always be an undertone that we face,” he said, urging the public to be proud of the city’s name no matter what.
“For those that that want to have a moment of humour with it, that’s not a bad thing. Embrace it. We’re not changing the name of the city of Regina anytime soon.”
He said the new slogan will be available to anyone who wants to use it, and if they want Experience Regina’s help it will be more than happy to lend a hand.
Heise understands that some people don’t like how the slogan can be interpreted as poking fun at Regina residents, but he said it’s not making fun of individuals.
It’s something everyone is laughing along with.
“It’s incredible branding and marketing,” Heise said. “You couldn’t create this yourself.”