Friday, June 9, 2023

An American and a Canadian forced to watch each country's worst NHL playoff ads

 Three years ago, with the NHL working their way through a very strange bubble postseason, an idea was born. This league and its broadcast partners love to bombard hapless viewers with the same awful commercials, over and over again. But those ads are different depending on which side of the border you’re on, meaning Canadians don’t get to see the ones that are driving Americans crazy, and vice versa.

So I found an American – Sean Gentille – and we agreed to force each other to watch our country’s three most annoying ads, and then react to them in real time. The concept was a hit, thanks to Jim Hughson’s hair, Tony the Tiger’s celly, and the infamous Tara Tara earworm. People loved the resulting post, and pretty soon Sean and I were doing national media hits for some reason. We brought the idea back in 2021, featuring the Sportsnet life coach, Rupert the Turtle, and a very real Oiler fan who thought Leon Draisaitl was the best in the league. More good times were had.

And then… nothing.

We took last year off. We considered doing that again this year. It’s not that we’re too busy (we are) or that we’ve run out of jokes (we have not). Something more shocking is going on.

For the last few years, the ads… haven’t been that bad?

Oh, they haven’t been good. But most fans seem to agree that nothing has approached Tara Tara levels of awfulness. And the ads that are bad don’t seem to run quite as often they used to.

Did… did we do that? Did the world’s biggest advertising firms see us making fun of them, and radically change the way they did business?

We can’t say for sure, so let’s just go ahead and assume that yes, that’s exactly what happened. And if so, we have a duty to keep doing the lord’s work, if only so that society is never again plunged back to following our dreams into taxidermy.

We’re back, baby. Let’s see where this goes.

Pre-game strategy

McIndoe: The first step in building a solid list of terrible ads is to reach out to the public, and this is where I ran into my first problem. When I tweeted out a call for nominations, one ad was the clear leader: That Rogers commercial where a coffee shop gives out a free cookie and we’re supposed to be inspired. That one really bothers people, to an almost comical degree. But tragically, Rogers seems to know this, because despite airing the ad constantly through the playoffs, they’ve managed to scrub any versions of it off of the internet. If I can’t show it to Sean, it’s of no use to us. Sorry, cookie haters. (But don’t go thinking you’re off the hook, Rogers.)

I considered making him watch one of those annoyingly obtuse yet uniquely Canadian drug ads, where they’re not allowed to say what the thing does, so it’s just catchy music and vague references. There’s the weekly exercise in overwrought Canada’a Got Talent treacle. And of course, there are the dozens of gambling ads that have infested our hockey coverage over the last year. It’s almost impossible to pick the worst out of that bunch, although it’s fun to imagine the meeting where some executive said “You know who Canadian hockey fans love and respect? Chris Pronger!”

In the end, I went for three brands that have been all over our playoff coverage. My next problem was narrowing it down to just one ad each, which was tougher than it sounds. But this is important work, so I had to persevere.

Gentille: My strategy begins and ends with one thing: earworms. I ruined my guy’s life with the aforementioned Tara a couple years back — look at her go, then and forever — and I’m trying to do it again. “Find something that works, then run it into the ground” is a personal mantra.

That means a few otherwise solid contenders had to get the boot. The Pete Davidson “Breakfast With Peter” Taco Bell bit, combined with his Peacock show, have me legitimately worried about whatever buddy’s next step is going to be. Also, the performance by co-host Rhonda made the whole thing a little less unfunny, and there’s no earworm to speak of.

The last cut was the Amazon ad starring a young woman who, with the help of Queen and some conspicuous consumption, learns to love her unwanted upper-lip hair. Did you know Olivia Wilde directed that one? I didn’t until a bit before we wrote this, but I’ve never been less surprised in my life. Either way, sometime in early May, I heard “Cool Cat” at a Chipotle and almost broke into tears, but I’ve since healed.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

(Want to read this post on The Athletic for free? Sign up for a free trial.)

1 comment:

  1. This is a really helpful post. Thank you very much for sharing it for me and everyone to know.