Canada vs. the USA

1 Mar

Some very smart people at ad agency BOS in Toronto caught the prevailing winds of the recent Vancouver 2010 Games before the rest of us did, including the media.

In this TV spot for Sportchek, a Canadian couple wearing national team hockey jerseys watches disconsolately while their car gets slowly dismantled by a gleeful US custom’s agent.

If you’ve spent any time in the blogosphere this week, you will know that the Canada-US rivalry has hit an all-time high.

The reason? Canada has a new confidence, and many Americans are learning we are no longer a country of hockey players alone. We do a lot of things very well. It has stirred the pot.

I’ve read some incredible bile on the Internet lately from both sides of the 49th. I’ve never seen such anti-Canadian sentiment from our neighbour, or watch it get kicked back south so unapologetically.

I don’t deny the incredible outpouring of appreciation that has also flowed our way north – but it seems you can’t have one without the other.

It’s a shame that the post-Olympic period should in any way be a pissing match between two good neighbours. A friendly rivalry is one thing, but I suspect we are going to see a lot more advertising in the next little while like the Sportchek spot. From both countries.

Let the Games begin.

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7 Responses to “Canada vs. the USA”

  1. sandy ibrahim March 2, 2010 at 10:10 am #

    Hey – I liked this ad, but didn’t really buy it. This past weekend two of my close friends from Seattle came up to visit and were here for the final hockey game. They saw how anxious I was about the game and both offered their allegiance to Canada in the game.

    I friggin lost it! They really hit the nerve there – because the real truth is they don’t care!! They don’t have anything to prove, but we sure do. Even if their former president bites, they still have the power to destroy the world and they take a certain pride in that (tho no democrat would ever admit it…). Our Prime Minister sucks, but he’s so bland that I’ve even forgotten his name – and he just might destroy our country, but it’ll be so passive that we won’t know he did it until it’s too late.

    The Olympics, while being AWESOME, reinforced the idea that our pride is loosely held on stereotypical Canadian ideals and in not being American. And your ‘you gotta be here’ blog points to an even bigger problem of us not holding on to our talent (unless of course they’re an author or uber cheesy entertainer.) I’ve always thought of Canada as America’s sensible older sibling who tries to do everything ‘right’ while her sexy and cool younger sibling tears up the place. And during the closing ceremonies – people all over Canada were shouting out musical acts that we could have used instead – but we played it totally safe and didn’t showcase some of the true talent that exists here.

    …i’ll continue the rest of the rant in my head…

  2. dougbrowncreative March 2, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    Maybe we don’t have anything to prove anymore…. what do you think?

  3. Scott Yester March 2, 2010 at 2:00 pm #

    I love the Olympics and I cheerfully partook, first hand, in the festivities for a solid week. I love the idea of countries from all over the world getting together to respectfully compete and feign a united world for two weeks. HOWEVER, many times over these Olympics, Canada has portrayed itself in a distasteful light. Don’t get me wrong, I consider myself very patriotic and thus I appreciate the visage that Canadians have developed over the last century or so and I want to uphold that reputation. However I think we shot ourselves in the foot a few times during the course of the Olympics. For example, the President’s Choice sponsorship ad that aired throughout the games is symbolic of Canada’s entire attitude towards showing the world “who we are”. In the ad, a President’s Choice spokesman suggests that if the Olympians who eat their food end up doing well in their respective events, PC will take “some credit.. but not too much – after all, we are Canadian”. This ironic commercial epitomizes the notion that was repeated throughout the games suggesting that Canadians are so modest that we should boast about it! Does this kill anybody else? Also, both the opening, but more so the closing, ceremonies were riddled with more paradoxes including self righteous, to the point of arrogant, claims of how much more polite we are than the rest of the world. All these qualities – by definition – should be left to be acknowledged by other countries, not ourselves! But I digress. My point is, although this is a very round-about way of saying it, I won’t blame foreign countries, including the US, if they berate us for the next little while.

    Go Canada

  4. dougbrowncreative March 2, 2010 at 2:14 pm #

    I agree with many of your points Scott. The PC commercial reminds me of a comedian telling everyone how funny he is. Perhaps we OD’d on parodying ourselves. But we were really just making fun of commonly held notions. How many times did you hear someone say “eh” during the closing ceremonies, someone who otherwise would never have said it? Didn’t Jacques Rogge say it too?

    The athletes and the volunteers, through their efforts, said everything that needed to be said about the country, eh?

  5. Scott Yester March 2, 2010 at 8:40 pm #

    Exactly, actions speak louder than words. Maybe I was being a little too critical, next time I’ll try not to be such a hoser.

  6. V March 4, 2010 at 10:39 pm #

    Does anyone know why they chose that setting for that commercial?

    I wish they added more detail to that ad. It didn’t impact me as much as if there was a sign that say’s US border and the customs agent seemed more smug about searching the car and there was a line up of cars behind them so it actually looked like a border check (a bit edgier for Canadian actors). Maybe start off that you see the backs of the Canadians without their jackets, so their colours of the jersey are visible, so you assume it’s the Canadian jerseys, making the audience assume the customs agent is American..

    If not maybe their car can be getting serviced somewhere with Palm Trees, some place it’s obviously American.

  7. dougbrowncreative March 5, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    V, I didn’t have any trouble identifying the setting as a US border. I wondered who the poor hapless couple were, but the final reveal of the jerseys paid it off. My guess is, with 90% of Canadians living within 100 km of the US border, the film makers counted on us being pretty familiar with the set-up. Just my thoughts.
    But I totally agree that the actors could have been more memorable. Thanks for the comment.

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