What was Pepsi thinking? That's what I want to know.
I work in marketing. I'm shocked Pepsi's "Cheer Nation" campaign got off the drawing board. I totally understand why Pepsi would want to associate their beverage with our national game, that's just smart business sense, but asking us to abandon “Go Canada Go” and “Ca-Na-Da” in favour of their awful and insulting chant of “Eh Oh Canada Go” is a horrible, horrible idea. They literally trampled ungraciously and obnoxiously on sacred ground.
Since I wrote Cheer Nation? I'm Not Chanting "Eh! O' Canada Go!" For Pepsi I've been using every ounce of my Google prowess and social media might to defend my nation, our game and our collective intelligence by rallying against PepsiCo and this campaign. I've managed to get interviewed by one major newspaper and an article I wrote got into the hands of the entertainment editor at The Star. Sadly, that article never got printed, but this one in the Vancouver Sun ran today.
'Eh Oh Canada Go' junior hockey chant falls flat
VANCOUVER — While Team Canada's attempt to achieve a sixth straight World Junior Championship gold medal fell to the wayside in overtime against Team USA last night in Saskatoon, at least one sigh of relief was exhaled by hockey fans across Canada as a corporate attempt to hijack a cultural tradition fell flat in its face.
Pepsi's attempt to eliminate the traditional Canadian hockey chants of “Go Canada Go” and “Ca-Na-Da” and re-brand them with the dubious chant of “Eh Oh Canada Go” was received with little fanfare before the tournament and by the gold medal game, the corporate takeover was stopped in its tracks as 13,000-plus loud, passionate fans kept to the traditional “Go Canada Go” chant.
Pepsi is a sponsor of Hockey Canada but not the Olympics and decided to get in on the pre-Olympic hockey buzz by creating a marketing campaign asking Canadians to create a new hockey chant.
The hockey gods cringed, as did fans across Canada.
The corporation's bid to get one million people to sign up for “Cheer Nation” has only garnered 93,876, many of whom were enticed to sign up because Pepsi said it would temporarily display a list of their names in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Pepsi's Facebook page has 133,000 fans, although that may be deceiving since most of the latest messages on the page seem to reinforce what many are calling a marketing disaster.
"I became a [Facebook] fan of this just to say how stupid it is. No company is going to tell me how to cheer. I don't need a sports cheer marketed," wrote Facebook member Jeff.
Meanwhile, the recently created "Eh! Oh! Canada Go! chant is a national embarrassment" Facebook page has 30,000 members.
And on Canucks.com, one fan created a forum discussion demanding the Pepsi chant be boycotted.
While Pepsi said the chant had "landed in Saskatoon" it was barely heard, if not for the parachuted Pepsi employees who tried (and failed) to launch the chant inside the arena.
During one commercial break in a previous game the chant's creator Joan Buma was introduced while a small group of "fans" chanted the cheer and a Pepsi cheerleader waved a Pepsi flag up and down the aisles. To Pepsi's credit one boy (presumed not to be paid by Pepsi) did stand up and bravely cheer the Pepsi chant for the camera.
Fans posting messages on online hockey discussion forums, such as NHL team websites and HFBoards.com, condemned the chant, with all due respect to Buma.
"I trust the Pepsi chant will die the early and inglorious death it deserves," said one member on HFBoards.com.
Bloggers also derided the corporate gimmick.
“Toronto Mike” said on his popular blog that the premise that Team Canada fans needed to be united was "faulty," and that fans are not corporate "sheep."
By the gold medal game there was seemingly nothing left of the chant other than the continuous bombardment of Pepsi commercials on television. The cheer wasn't necessarily boycotted, rather it was simply ignored and died an inglorious death.
I'm claiming victory. This campaign will go down in history as one of the greatest miscalculations in Canadian marketing history. We Canadians are a tolerant bunch, polite and passive at times, but when you come in our backyard and tell us how to cheer for our national hockey team, we get pissed. And you don't want to see a Canadian pissed.
That damn cheer has indeed died an inglorious death. We won!