MARKETER: Molson Canadian beer
AGENCY: Bensimon Byrne D'Arcy, Toronto
RATING: Four stars
Our friendly, flannel-shirted neighbors to the north seem to have torn themselves away from their hockey games long enough to reflect on their debt to (they'd say "inundation by," but it's a debt to) American culture.
They'd say it's "U.S." culture, but it's American culture. Hey, it's not USOL. It's AOL.
I guess they could have come up with their own Backstreet Boys, Kmart, Queen Latifah, Red Lobster, Pontiac Sunfire and "Touched by an Angel" all by themselves--you know, made out of maple syrup and wood pulp, or something--but we just beat them to it.
Meantime, we get to enjoy their wealth of exports, such as the goose turds that litter our finest golf courses, as well as Lorne Green, who is dead, and Atom Egoyan, who makes you wish you were.
Beg pardon . . . Curling. Guy Lombardo. Celine Dion. Need I say more?
But instead of seeing the cornucopia of American beneficence as a blessing for which they, as serfs and inferiors, should be grateful, suddenly they're all huffy and resentful. It's adorable, actually, like when your 4-year-old wants to cross the street alone.
So you can't help but be amused by the commercial for Molson Canadian beer from Bensimon Byrne D'Arcy, Toronto. The premise is of a lone speaker, addressing an audience--calmly at first, but with increasing passion culminating in an ecstatic rage--on his proud Canadianness. The spot is titled "The Rant."
"Hey, I'm, uh, I'm not a lumberjack or a fur trader. And I don't have an igloo or eat blubber or own a dogsled.
And I don't know Jimmy or Sally or Suzie from Canada, although I'm certain they're really, really nice.
"I have a prime minister, not a president. I speak English and French, not American. And I pronounce it 'about,' not 'aboot.' I can proudly sew my country's flag on my backpack. I believe in peacekeeping, not policing, diversity, not assimilation.
"And the beaver is a truly proud and noble animal. A toque is a hat. A Chesterfield is a couch. AND IT IS PRONOUNCED 'ZED.' NOT 'ZEE.' ZED!
"CANADA IS THE SECOND-LARGEST LAND MASS AND THE FIRST NATION OF HOCKEY AND THE BEST PART OF NORTH AMERICA. MY NAME IS JOE, AND I . . . AM . . . CANADIAN!!!!"
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Vive la difference. Joe is fed up being mistaken for an American, which is like being fed up with being mistaken for George Clooney, but never mind that. Canadians have embraced "The Rant" as a manifesto of national identity.
Advertising, of course, needn't be concerned with reality. It doesn't matter that this so-called sovereign nation couldn't survive without the bounty of its parent country to the south. (They are superficially very nice people, but, really, in what pitiful state would they be if forced to fend for themselves? For God' sake, they didn't even know what to do with their own bacon until McDonald's put it in the Egg McMuffin.)
So while it may be ironic that even this expression of Canadian identity is more about America than Canada, and while it's genuinely pathetic that the nation's greatest monument of political speech is a beer commercial, the fact is this is brilliant advertising. It has made the product--the famously indigenous Molson Canadian--not only the hero but a national hero. And sales have soared.
Alas, like poisonous nationalism elsewhere on the globe, such insanely blind patriotism can only unleash the worst kind of fears, suspicions and violence. Soon we can expect propaganda-crazed Canadians to ruthlessly attack real Americans in Medicine Hat and Banff, then surge across the border on a murderous spree of fanatical retribution.
There is only one solution: Destroy them before they destroy us.
Bob Garfield, Ad Age, May 2000
Copyright © May 2000, Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved.