Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Gentille vs. McIndoe: Two fans forced to watch each country’s most annoying NHL playoff commercials of 2021

Last year, roughly halfway through the NHL playoffs, I had what I thought was a good idea.

I was watching yet another night of hockey, and muttering to myself about how Canadians always seem to have to sit through some combination of the same half-dozen or so commercials at every ad break. I was also vaguely aware that many Americans of my twitter feed were complaining about a similar phenomenon down there. But their ads were different – I’d never seen them, and they’d never seen of mine.

Wouldn’t it be neat, I thought, to find an American hockey fan, and set up a sort of international exchange program? I could have them watch the most annoying Canadian ads, they could send me the worst the USA had to offer, and we’d have fun reacting to them. I reached out to Sean Gentille, he agreed to participate, and we made it all happen. This would be fun!

Then he showed me the “Tara Tara look at her go“ ad, and my brain hasn’t worked properly ever since.

So yeah, it was not a good idea. But that doesn’t mean we can’t do it all over again. Many of you have asked for a sequel, using this year’s new crop of annoying ads. Do I want to do this? No I do not. But it’s either this or write another column about the Leafs being huge losers, so let’s break up the monotony with some terrible commercials.

The format will be the same as last year. Other Sean and I have both chosen three ads that are in heavy rotation in our respective countries, but that the other person has never seen. We’ll each watch the other’s ads for the first time ever, and react in real-time. Then you will go into the comment section and argue about which country has it worse. (It’s your country. Everyone always thinks their country’s ads are worse.)

I’ve been assured that there’s nothing in this year’s batch that’s as annoying as Tara Tara, and so help me if this turns out to be a lie then there’s a good chance you will never see me again.

Pregame Strategy

McIndoe: As with last year, the big challenge is narrowing my list down to three. Many of you Canadians have been submitting nominations for weeks now, and you’ve made strong cases. Pretty much every gambling app ad is deeply weird. The one where a couple dances unironically to “Time of My Life” for some car web site is disturbing. And yes, we can all agree that we want to punch our screen every time that some smug know-it-all lecture a family member over their investment fees.

But with all due respect to those awful ads, there was really only one spot available this year, thanks to a certain burger joint and a coffee place that apparently took being excluded from last year’s post as a personal challenge. I went back and forth a bit on the last spot, but decided to give some recognition to a series of ads that’s not exactly awful, but is certainly… what’s the word I’m looking for? Omnipresent. That’s it.

It goes without saying that I’ll lead off with that one to lull Gentille into a false sense of security, then hit him with the burger ad when he’s vulnerable, followed by the coffee ad that should sap his will to live, or at least to ever talk to a Canadian hockey fan about their favorite player.

Gentille: My strategy here is simple. It’s also a basic rip-off of what I did last year. First two? Garden-variety obnoxious. Last one? Drop the hammer.

A couple quick notes on two that missed the cut: First is the Lexus ad implying that A) individual empathy is a cure for structural racism and B) buying a Lexus, actually, is the most empathetic thing you can do. That one sucks on principle without being fun to joke about. Second is the iPhone privacy/“Can I have a taste of your ice cream” ad. It sucks as well, but it’s simply not yet pervasive enough. Maybe next year.

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