Created: What the puck?
Alright, so the Juniors only scored silver; time to put that behind us and look toward the Olympics. Over the next couple of months, the Canadian airwaves will overflow with nationalistic hokum from marketers pushing our Pavlovian buttons. And we're willing to bet at least half of the commercials will feature hockey. (Already: Nike, Tim Hortons, Pepsi.) A new Reebok commercial sends Sidney Crosby back to his childhood home of Cole Harbour, N.S., with his Penguins teammate Maxime Talbot for a pickup game of target practise in the basement. Upstairs, listening to the puck clang into the clothes dryer, Mr. Crosby's parents wince indulgently. The spot brings us sweetly back to when we were kids mucking around with some sticks and a puck. But it's all fake: Mr. Crosby says he used a net for target practise, not the famous clothes dryer, which now lives in the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame. The basement in the spot isn't even real: It was recreated in a Pittsburgh soundstage. Sid, please tell us that at least those are your real parents. Simon Houpt
Noted: Lungs 1, Big Tobacco 0
Here's one area in which our exports are looking up: Canadian-style cigarette advertising. A U.S. federal judge in Kentucky, the heart of tobacco country, ruled this week that lawmakers there have the right to restrict marketing materials, and to institute health warnings on cigarette packs similar to the big blocky labels used on this side of the border. The plaintiffs, which included R.J. Reynolds, National Tobacco and Lorillard Tobacco, had argued that the warnings weren't necessary because, well, c'mon, everybody already knows their products are deadly. But in backing the government's case, the court pointed to one study, which "found that while 83 per cent of Canadian students mentioned health warnings in a recall test of cigarette packages," only "7 per cent of U.S. students did the same." But don't despair, Big Tobacco: you're still going to be able to use colour and graphics, prime elements of logos and branding! So light one up and celebrate! Because we totally support your personal right to smoke as much as you want. Simon Houpt
Quoted: Coat makers skirts the rules
Is it a calculated risk?
Freddie Stollmack, Weatherproof Garment Company
We know there's no such thing as free publicity, but this is pretty cheap: The Weatherproof Garment Company of New York has bought itself worldwide coverage for the price of a billboard in Times Square, after erecting a two-storey sign at the corner of 41st Street and Seventh Avenue featuring U.S. President Barack Obama sporting one of their coats while on a recent tour of the Great Wall of China. The company neither sought nor received permission from the White House to use Mr. Obama's likeness, but it's unclear if they were breaking the law by doing so. "We're not saying President Obama endorses Weatherproof apparel," explained Freddie Stollmack, the president of Weatherproof, to The New York Times. But he added that they'd take down the sign if the White House requested. As far as we're concerned, Mr. Obama should be flattered; we've been thinking about this for two days, and we still can't come up with a single Canadian marketer that might want to use Stephen Harper in an ad. Simon Houpt
Keeping idiots off the road
If we haven't learned yet that drunk driving is a bad idea, perhaps a bit of reverse psychology is in order. "Stayin' on the Road," a series of spots by TBWA Toronto to promote MADD Canada's 911 campaign, brings us some unexpected advice, not about how to drive safe, but about how to drive drunk and not get caught. In talk-show-style segments, we meet such losers as Ryan, who tells us to suck on a penny to beat the Breathalyzer, and Hal, who demonstrates how to stay in one lane while intoxicated. The tagline reminds us, "There are a lot of idiots out there." Lesson learned.
Calling all students
Do you have what it takes to become Canada's Next Top Ad Exec? General Motors is calling on Canadian business students to develop a prelaunch campaign for the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze. The contest challenges student creative teams to engage the youth audience with non-traditional marketing, such as social media, viral, guerrilla and mobile tactics. Teams must submit a summary of their ideas by Jan. 22, with full details at topadexec.com. The winning team will drive away with the Cruze and a whole lot of recognition.
No love for Virgin ads
There's nothing virginal about new bus shelter ads by Virgin Mobile. The ads feature a man kissing a woman and touching her buttocks with the tagline, "Hook Up Fearlessly." Transit officials in Calgary and Mississauga, Ont., have pulled the ads, saying they are not fit to be seen by children. A Virgin spokesman said he doesn't understand the fuss over a picture of people embracing. Allow us to explain, Virgin: Embracing is fine. Fondling buttocks is foreplay. Foreplay leads to sex, which is how children are born. People with children don't want to answer questions about sex at the bus stop. Got it?
Viral videos to spread
Hoping to unleash the next " roller-skating baby" viral campaign, advertisers will become more savvy about developing spots with viral potential this year. According to AdvertisingAge, viral campaigns will gain prominence, with marketers going to greater lengths to ensure they catch on with consumers. Rather than waiting for an audience, AdAge says marketers will invest in "viral seeding strategies," pushing their ads through targeted, paid placements. In other words, the spontaneity that we consumers love about viral videos will be gone.
Every sperm is sacred to Specsavers
Speaking of babies and "seeding strategies," we think a new online video starring sperm in need of vision correction has good viral potential. The "Spermsavers" spot, by British eyewear company Specsavers, shows that even the fastest swimmers can miss their mark without good eye care. As the farsighted sperm veers away from the egg, the tagline reads: "Should have gone to Specsavers." Specsavers says the ad, created to mark its own birth 25 years ago, is so popular it is being reformatted for TV and cinemas.