Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Good Commercial/Bad Commercial

John Lewis, the British department store, apparently has a tradition of making a superb ad every Christmas that everyone in the UK promptly goes mad over.  This year's instalment is the lovely tale of Monty the Penguin, and his quest to win a major golf championship find true love.  Of course, Monty doesn't find it himself, his child owner/friend simply buys a female penguin, and thus the real underlying message is that John Lewis supports the indentured servitude that is the mail-order bride system.  Shameful on you, department store.  Fortunately you won me back with that gorgeous cover of John Lennon's "Real Love."


Toronto is hosting the 2015 Pan-Am Games and the hype has begun in the form of this weirdly aggressive commercial.  As in, the athletes are literally invading Toronto and there's nothing the city can do about it.  "Ready or not," they're on the way and "you can't hide."  So on the bright side, at least the guys from the Delfonics are getting a royalty cheque.  But there are oh so many more downsides…

* a song called "Ready Or Not" about an event in Canada, and neither Amanda or Busy could make a cameo??

* why is the entire city deserted?  Are the athletes coming not to compete, but to ward off the zombie horde that has apparently overtaken the city?

* is the "ready or not" theme really the right tone you want to strike for an event that's had some issues in having venues and transportation arrangements finalized for July?

There's just such a tone of grim inevitability in this ad.  Since cities in general are getting more and more wary of paying big money for the "honour" of hosting these major sporting events, it's almost like the commercial is telling Torontonians that the Games are coming, so just shut up and enjoy them.  And these the Pan-Am Games, a.k.a. the poor man's Olympics!  The Olympics are a big enough joke as it is and would cost Toronto probably four times as much to host, but at least they're something the world somewhat cares about --- has anyone ever given a crap about the Pan-Am Games aside from the host city?

To that end, there's still a stunningly high number of Torontonians who have no idea what the Pan-Am Games are, or that their city is hosting them in the summer, or what exactly these games will do to life in town.  If Toronto traffic gridlock is a nightmare even under normal circumstances, having the Pan-Am Games involved will take things to Freddy Krueger levels for six weeks.  Perhaps the deserted city of the commercial is meant to symbolize how everyone Toronto will simply get the hell out of town for the entirety of July.

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