Saturday, February 13, 2010

Canada's ad to the world

Tonight, hundreds of millions of folks got a look at Canada through our Olympic ceremony opening. In short we had a 3 hour ad to the world about our country. It’s a marketers dream to have an audience like that. That’s the good news. The bad news is that it’s a one time shot with a million moving parts. What succeeded and what failed?

Generally when an ad fails, it’s not because of faulty execution- it is because of the shoddy planning. Think of the Microsoft ads featuring Jerry Seinfeld. Excellent execution but totally missing the mark for what consumers needed to hear from Microsoft. Another ad that missed the mark was the Olympic ad for GM that showed hockey players being assembled on the GM assembly line. A very cool execution but a message irrelevant to the GM brand.

Today we witnessed some outstanding planning and excellent execution for our Canadian ad as well as some terrible planning and miserable execution. Let’s take a look.

You would be hard pressed to find anyone who was not blown away by the visual extravaganza tonight. Using the crowd as an artistic canvas to showcase Canadian landscape, seasons, and culture is nothing short of brilliant. The planners dreamed up showcasing the diversity of our nation in very artistic ways- from young man running through wheat fields to visuals featuring falling autumn leaves of Quebec.

On the other hand, who dreamed up the idea of having Gretzky hop in the back of a pick up truck in the pouring rain to light the official torch? It made for such a sketchy visual that NBC didn’t even follow the lighting of the torch. Or, who thought it would be great to have an opera singer lip synch the Olympic hymn after the Chinese lip-synch fiasco? And, what’s up with 4 First Nations chiefs being (noticeably) absent for the start of the event? After all they are only sitting by the top IOC chiefs and the top dignitaries of our country (Prime Minister Harper and Governor General Jean). Finally, let’s put on a You Tube poet to make an ode to our nation. I just got the sense that some of the opening ceremonies seemed to be made by a committee. And that’s not the way to make our nation’s ad to the world.


  1. What's your take on the net impact of the "ad"?

  2. I too enjoyed the spectacle, however, the last image of Gretzky looking nervously, side to side as random people attempting to get their 5 seconds of fame ran along side and yelled "whoa", erased much of the "wow" factor for me. Gretzky in the rain with wool mittens... kinda bizarre. He looked uncomfortable with the whole thing.

  3. Certainly there was some poor execution. I take it from your comments that you watched it on NBC. On CBC, they announced that there was a problem with the hyrdolics at the end (the actual lighting of the flame) which caused a delay and perhaps was also the reason for the weird Gretsky move (I didn't even see that on CBC). The absence of the First Nations was also an error - they were just late (no reason given). The lip syncing? It could or could not have been lip syncing. It's quite normal for the audio broadcast to lag behind the video in live events - the NFL actually has a 3 or 5 second delay thanks to Janet Jackson. It didn't seem to be that she was lip syncing - nor any of the other vocalists.

    The one thing that did look fake but I'm not sure if it was was the fiddle players... one of their bows was ripped to shreds, but it's hard to believe that they could "fake" it so much that they are breaking their strings yet not making any sounds that clash with the "real" music. I suspect the disconnect from video & audio that you saw there was a technical delay which could have been the network as I didn't notice it on CBC. ...or was it CTV?... the one with boaring Brian Williams.

    Maybe have a look at a replay from another network if you can get your hands on the video.

  4. My point is poor planning was rampant. Regarding the lip synch, an audio delay would have affected all of the singers- but it didn't.