The Pomegranate Phone, A $300K Gamble

Looking at The Government of Nova Scotia’s Pomegranate Phone and I can only come up with “Interesting” to say the least. Actually I could say more regarding my initial thoughts… Once I heard what was spent numerous words were popping into my mind. So $300k get you a website and while the site is visually appealing I honestly believe there was a better use of $300,000 in tax payer money. This flashy, bloated waste is novel at best and primarily highlights the flash skills of a local designer.


The big question is, Will it work? Judging by first impressions I would take a guess and say no. If you were a random user with no previous knowledge of this site and stumbled across it, you would think it was a joke. If you are lucky enough to find the website and as discussed online, odds are you will end up leaving without seeing the hidden content.


Now the Government has kindly come out with some numbers, saying 20,000+ people have been to the site. Well no kidding, tax payers are looking at it and going WTF? The traffic they are getting is from the social media exposure and criticism. It would actually be interesting to see the actual stats on this project, wouldn’t surprise me if it was 20,000+ hits (and you know what I think of them).


Anyways the $300,000 Pomegranate Phone seems more like a cash handout than a worthwhile campaign. Users in social media are largely not impressed and a quick search with MediaBadger has turned up hundreds of negative views on this waste of money.

Some of the noise has been taking place on sites like Twitter, Facebook, local media and others. Check out what people are saying on Twitter.


  1. If you’re adamant about finding out the real stats, why not file a freedom of information request and get them?

  2. I’m just curious really and I’m sure others are as well. $300,000 spent, what are the results and how are they measuring?

    That’s not a bad idea … I will look into that.

    Thanks Limitbreaker

  3. well, ffs, you talk like you’re a gd captain of industry with your half dozen commercial enterprises and you don’t even think to fill out some forms and shell out twenty-five bucks? you already know they use google analytics, so it’s not even a challenge to frame the request to get the info that you and these ‘others’ claim to want so bad.

    doing business here but don’t even know how the systems work, just complain about them. shoddy.

  4. LMAO … I knew it was a matter of time before you came out with some sort of asinine remark.

    Captain of Industry, No. I just happen to not be afraid of sharing my opinion, unlike your self who hides behind some screen name.

    Half dozen commercial enterprises .. Hmmm, Only know of 3 that I’m involved in.

    Theres nothing “shoddy” about it. Whats shoddy is your inability to express your own honest opinion in your own name. You hide behind this fake persona pretending to be a tough guy meanwhile your probably someones peon and fear being reprimanded.

  5. I love that they tried something bold and new. I love that they took a risk. The issue here, the sole, important issue about the Pom Phone site that needs to be remedied, is the bait and… hope that people stumble upon the actual message.

    If you think your microsite is entertaining, fun, engaging, and will get people to show it to others *you don’t have to hide your branding.* You hide your brand when you fear that putting your actual logo on your microsite will make people less interested.

    They just need to slap the Come to Life logo on the actual Pom Phone site (which they should have done in the first place), and bam!, you’ve got a cool site that will keep people playing around, *while they know what the actual product is!*

    This is what Landlord Lou did, what Jonzed did, what the BK x-box games did, what Simpsonize Me did, what all those cool microsites or promotions did… They created an interesting product but weren’t afraid to tie it to their brand up front.

    When you have to trick someone into finding out what the message is, dupe them into seeing the actual thing you’re advertising, their reaction will only ever be negative and neutral.

    I don’t think 300k is too much to spend on a cool, innovative campaign that gets people talking. But they should be talking about your brand, too, not just the site you dropped the money on.

    Kudos to Come to Life for trying something new, now they just need to make it a little more effective.

  6. you want stats? have you tried asking for them? pick up the phone and call someone. no need clogging up FOIPOP when folks are likely keen to share the results.

  7. H Clay,

    Have already been in contact with someone. Will see what info I can get before doing a FOIPOP.

    Guess you missed that part of the conversation.

  8. Hi all.
    Yes Clay – Robert called me today and I’ll be happy to follow up with the stats. You are right – it is that simple!
    I work on Nova Scotia Come to life – the place branding program for the province – and this is our campaign. Its goal is to get people thinking differently about our province. We are much more than a tourist destination. We are a growing province with opportunity, successful businesses and talent! We actually have had 37,000 visits to our site now. No – these are not hits – I know the difference. We’ve had visitors from every single state in the US except North Dakota. But more importantly, we are hitting our target markets: Toronto, Boston, Calgary, Ottawa and inside Nova Scotia. We are influcencing the decision makers, senior civil servants, community leaders, movers and shakers. If we can get them thinking differently about the province that will filter down. If we change the perceptions out there about Nova Scotia – we can attract more business, more immigrants, investment and visitors…and then grow our economy that will benefit us all. Yes 300,000 dollars is a lot of money, but a full page ad in the Boston Globe costs between 60 and 80 thousand. Standing out from the crowd is costly. But we need to stand out. It is a solid investment in our future.
    I welcome any questions or comments. You can reach our team at
    I’ve appreciated reading these comments. It is an opportunity for others to learn about our mandate.

  9. Reason FOIPOP was suggested: Most government employees don’t hand out information freely, I guess in a way the FOIPOP covers them a little, No one can say why did you…

    Thank you Stacey for commenting and I look forward to chatting further and understanding more about the overall campaign.

    Its good seeing involvement from everyone!

  10. yeah, that’s exactly why I use a handle, Bob. all us ad agency hacks or government employees do, it’s part of the unwritten code.

    my real name (Ken Smith) is less of a unique identifier than my handle. even if I regularly used my real name, and even if your webferret site was finally out of closed beta, none of the mysterious “powers that be” you expect people to fear would use it or take action because someone opposes the great Bob Snell on some blog.

    intevix, webferret, atj, techeast, robert snell internet business solutions, HH clique meetings, tech-open, tech-table… you have a lot of half-arsed irons in the fire, Bob, I can see why you’d distract yourself from all that unfinished work by whining about a new government campaign that strays from the standard boring template sites, like the one you used on “” for example…

  11. Wow, Ken is it? You seem pretty sour with, well everything? Suffer from many failures in life and were unable to cope? I guess this is your way of dealing with your pent up aggression and frustration with your own meager existence.

    Intevix, yes I’m a partner in that business … Sames as Tech East (ATJ is part of it) I’m a partner. Tech Open is a joint project between Tech East and Intevix. In regards to Tech Table, not my project. The “HH Clique Meetings” are more of a friendly gathering as some people in this city try to get things done. Webferret, you went all out there. Why don’t you try actually doing something instead of being some whiney closet case?

    In regards to the Relocate site, its what they wanted and it delivers a message without any distractions.

    As usual you have provided me with a minute of entertainment … Keep up the good work!

  12. I think it’s commendable that Nova Scotia chose to do a fresh innovative campaign that gets people talking. Sure a lot of people won’t get the ultimate payoff and check out the NS site but by creating something with broad appeal they’re no doubt going to attract enough visitors that they will in fact get their target demo by word of mouth and sheer volume of traffic. The goal of any advertiser should be cutting through the clutter and this work definitely does that, not to mention the viral aspect of it.

  13. Hi Robert,

    I totally agree with your post. I think its a horrendous campaign idea – draw people in with a new phone than entice them to come to Nova Scotia?

    As a friend of mine put it “the people who propose these campaigns must be some sllliiiiick talkers.”

    As for Ken – man you are a hater. If you dislike Robert so much why do you take the time to post on his blog? You must have an AWESOME life.


  14. Are you kidding this marketing camp. is genius. Its something different and catchy. Because of how unique this is it has caught the attention of people around the world. Even being featured on Yahoo’s Main news pages. Anyone in marketing today should realize that its unique approaches like this that standout. Yes there are other ways they could have done it.. But then they are just 1 among the millions of other people doing the same thing.. This way they stand out and get noticed

  15. Robert and other commentators,

    An interesting concept that goes too deep before the aha. And yes, faboulous creative thinking, intriguing stuff to explore but that none the less takes way to much time for the curious or even for the committed, like me. Needed to get to come to life faster, and as one poster commented, integrate the brand upfront. Or maybe cut it up into samller chunks for different purposes, different demographics of markets; thus you could be more targeted, tighter and get to the come to life faster.

    And oh my gosh limitbreaker — I read your comments in a state of, oh what’s the word?….let’s just say, I am incredulous that this site/blog can garner such frustration. You have definitely taken the come to life moto to heart lol

  16. A few months late but here goes.

    I saw an add for the Pom phone today and thought it looked nice enough to click through. I then thought “wtf?” when I noticed the coffee brewing option. I’m the type of person that plays around with mystery sites in order to find out who or what has made ’em and for what purpose. I have to say that I stumbled on the true purpose by sheer luck and patience (since the flash was taking a long time to load in my browser.)

    After I stumbled onto the Nova Scotia bit I sent the site to a friend who never once stumbled on the link to Nova Scotia. He assumed it was a well made joke or part of some obscure ARG that neither one of us had heard of.

    That said, I think it’s great idea but the site really really REALLY needed a cleaner, linear interface funneling even the most lost user into the end point (ie. Nova Scotia.)

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