It’s Official: “Obay” is an Ontario Colleges Marketing Campaign

Screenshot of Ontario Colleges site

Ontario Colleges has unveiled the second phase of their marketing campaign on their website.
If you live in Ontario, you’ve probably encountered the first phase of the campaign, the mysterious “Obay” ads (which I covered here, here and here).

Here’s what the main page of the site says:

When it comes to post-secondary education, there are options

And whether you’re a teenager or a parent of one, we urge you to explore them all. University is great, but it’s not for everyone.

Unfortunately, parents often only see the future they want for their kids, rather than the future that their kids want for themselves.

Pressuring your children into a specific school or career may seem like what’s best, but it’s usually quite the opposite. It certainly won’t guarantee them success, and in many cases, it only delays it.

Why? Because the child is stuck in a course or school that they haven’t chosen, that doesn’t motivate them and that they have no emotional investment in.

If you’ve never considered an Ontario college education before, please take a few moments and have a look. You may be surprised at what you find.

Academic Snobbery

There exists a bias – a bias against college or any other post-secondary option that isn’t university. We consider it a form of snobbery.

This results in too many teenagers being pushed in the wrong direction – usually by their parents. “As long as my children go to university, I’ve done my job”.

Many of these parents are university graduates themselves, and have had successful, rewarding careers. They just want the same for their children. The problem is, times have changed and the path they took no longer exists or may not afford the same opportunities. Perception is no longer reality.

It’s an interesting ad campaign, but will it work? I know for certain that it’s got that certain “every opinion has equal merit and every person has equal potential” sort of vibe that will land it on Stuff White People Like (probably as a follow-up to entry #47, Arts Degrees). I seriously doubt that these ads will have any effect on my mom or other parents from cultures where education is considered to be of paramount importance. (I can hear it now: “College is for the gwai lo.” “Lowered expectations is so goyische.”)

The Video Campaign

In addition to the print/poster ads and the website, Ontario Colleges has also produced three cinema ads, shown below:


Gray’s Anatomy


6 replies on “It’s Official: “Obay” is an Ontario Colleges Marketing Campaign”

The whole college/university bit is extremely frustrating for an American living in Canada. My college degree from the States is equal to any university degree in Canada. But do people (read: employers) get that?

@Wendy: I think Canadians know about the American use of the word “college” since they’re next door and are the primary definers of North American culture. Besides, Wellesley has an international reputation.

Well, yes, but only within a certain population. I have to explain Wellesley all the time, esp. in Toronto where Wellesley means other places.

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