Long before US planes began bombing runs over Afghanistan, American
farmers fired the first shot in a different skirmish with their
neighbors to the north.
The Yanks successfully secured steep tariffs on tomatoes imported from
north of the border. The Canadians retaliated, forming the Tomato Trade
Alliance, an eight-month-old organization that publicizes what it sees
as Washington's rotten tomato policies. Last week, the group's campaign
bore fruit in the form of a New York Times story headlined "US-Canada
Tomato War Heats Up."
"Pre-anthrax, we were shipping baskets of fresh tomatoes to members of
the Canadian media," says Randy Wood, senior partner at
National-Labrador Communications (NLC), which has been handling PR
efforts for the alliance.
"That really opened the door to our pitch. The first thing reporters
wanted to do was thank us for the fresh tomatoes that they'd just sliced
into." Adds Wood, "It's amazing how many newsrooms have olive oil on
NLC also works to publicize complaints brought by the British Columbia
Lumber Trade Council against US softwood growers. So far, that conflict
- part of a century-old timber tiff between the US and Canada - has
proven a harder sell than the vegetable imbroglio.
"Tomatoes are sexier than two-by-fours," Wood explains.
After hearing Wood expound on the virtues of "big, red, Canadian
hot-house tomatoes, the tastiest, juiciest tomatoes in the world,"
PRWeek wondered whether we might receive our own sample of his client's
We were told that unfortunately, due to the tomato war, such a shipment
would be impossible to arrange. "It's kind of hard to get our tomatoes
across the border right now," Wood says.