That Damn Pepsi Cheer
I almost made it two whole days without writing about that damn Pepsi cheer. I really don't understand how it got out of the design phase. Why would Pepsi insert itself awkwardly between Canadians and hockey? Coke would know better...
Case in point: eight years ago, Coke ran an ad campaign to align itself with Canada's cheers for Team Canada. Where Pepsi chose to tell us we were doing it wrong, Coke told us we were doing it right. Here's a Coke ad from 2002 that the Pepsi Canada marketing executives should have watched before agreeing to the national embarrassment that is Cheer Nation.
They say there's no such thing as bad publicity so long as they spell your name right. I strongly disagree. This Pepsi campaign couldn't have gone worse, and the moment I saw the first ad I knew it would fail. The backlash against Pepsi amongst this nations millions and millions of hockey fans will be felt for a long, long time. In fact, every time my team loses a game, and as a Leafs fan that's all the time, I now blame it on that damn Pepsi cheer.
But that Coke ad is pretty good. They seem to get it. Pepsi should take notes.
Other Toronto Mike Pepsi Cheer Rants:
- Cheer Nation? I'm Not Chanting "Eh! O' Canada Go!" For Pepsi
- I'm Quoted in Today's Saskatoon StarPhoenix
- Mandy Muffin is a Lost Cause but Mz Kitty Demure Gets It
- Canada Kills Pepsi Cheer - We Win!
- The Slippery Slope of Independent Blogging
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!
While I enjoyed this afternoon's semi-final matchup between Canada and Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championship, I kept my laptop at bay to take a real-time pulse of the nation. That's why I love Twitter, you're connected to hockey fans throughout the country and can engage and interact as it happens.
Part of my battle against Pepsi and their Cheer Nation campaign involves saving the souls of those Canadians who have bought into Pepsi's program. One such Twitter user is Ms. Mandy Muffin from Mississauga.
From Ms. Mandy Muffin's Twitter profile, we learn quite a bit about her. How do I get me one of them panty seller jobs?
Official Mandy Muffin Twitter Page! Amatuer (sic) Porn Model, Camgirl, PhoneSex Operator & Panty Seller
Before you jump to conclusions, no I don't follow Ms. Mandy Muffin. I do subscribe to an RSS feed of a Twitter search for the keywords "Pepsi" and "cheer" and that's how I found Ms. Mandy Muffin. Check out this trifecta of tweets.
Clearly Ms. Mandy Muffin is Pepsi's target audience. She's bought their awful, unnecessary and offensive cheer hook, line and sinker. Naturally, I felt a need to reply to her micro Pepsi ads.
Ms. Mandy Muffin wasn't happy. She quickly replied.
I'm still confused by her "proud Canadian" comment. Was she suggesting that I'm not a proud Canadian because I don't want her tweeting and chanting for Pepsi? I replied.
And that just riled her up, as she began rubbing my face in Pepsi's cheer.
Luckily for me, I was defended by none other than Mz Kitty Demure who claims it's all about the music, the sports and the burlesque!
And you thought Twitter was for nerds.
I'm sharing this classic video by Neil Young and the Bluenotes because it includes the line "ain't singing for Pepsi". When I record a cover about my battle against Pepsi, I'll change that to "ain't chanting for Pepsi".
This video won the MTV Video Music Award for Best Video of the Year for 1989.
I spoke with the Saskatoon StarPhoenix yesterday regarding Pepsi's Cheer Nation. I previously wrote about Cheer Nation in an entry entitled Cheer Nation? I'm Not Chanting "Eh! O' Canada Go!" For Pepsi.
It must be a slow news day in Saskatoon. The article in which I'm quoted is currently the lead story.
Here's the article in which I do my very best Neil Young impersonation.
Give a cheer
Professional fan teaches 'Eh! O' Canada Go'
By Wendy Gillis, For The StarPhoenix
Having thousands of cheering sports fans watch his every exuberant move is just another day at the office for Cameron Hughes. But one excited woman gave the professional sports entertainer a career first on Saturday during Team Canada's premier game of the 2010 IIHF world junior hockey championship.
"She just grabbed me, took my head firmly between her hands and planted a kiss right on my lips," said Hughes. "I knew people in Saskatchewan were friendly, but not that friendly."
For 13 years, the Ottawa native has travelled throughout Canada and the United States living every sports fan's dream. At games, he yells at the top of his lungs, leads cheers, throws T-shirts into the crowd and dances up and down the stairs -- and gets paid to do it.
His flair for fanaticism has him perform at dozens of professional baseball, hockey, basketball and football games, including last year's Grey Cup game in Montreal. Now, Hughes brings his infectious energy and self-described awkward dance moves to Saskatchewan for his first gig at the world junior tournament.
"This is a dream come true," said Hughes, who always watched the tournament as a boy.
Though the job title of professional fan may sound cushy, Hughes has to suit up and prepare like any athlete he cheers on. He does vocal exercises and drinks special tea to protect his voice, and non-stop moving forces him to tape his ankles prior to each performance.
Despite his preparation, Hughes still has battle scars: Constant clapping has left him with chapped and cut hands, and he has been sent to the hospital eight times during the course of his career.
Hired to cheer by PepsiCo Beverages Canada, Hughes' task at the world juniors is to promote the company's national hockey program Cheer Nation. According to Pepsi, the goal of Cheer Nation is to give Canadian hockey fans their own cheer for Team Canada.
The company ran a contest for a national hockey cheer, and the result was debuted during Team Canada's game against Latvia Saturday. Penned by Ontario high school teacher Joan Buma, the simple "Eh! O' Canada Go!" was the contest winner, beating out 1,000 other submissions.
"I'm an encourager by nature, and I'm a die-hard hockey fan," Buma said Sunday from her home in Grimsby.
Buma wrote the cheer a mere two days before the contest closed, and got her students to participate in the video submission at the last minute. She receives a four-day trip to Saskatoon for the championship, and a vacation to Germany for the 2010 IIHF World Championship in May.
Hughes said hockey fans embraced the cheer when he taught it to the 12,469 people at Credit Union Centre on Saturday. He said fans were singing along with him and then chanting it on their own.
But Cheer Nation has come under fire from those who think Pepsi is turning Canada's love affair with hockey into a marketing gimmick.
On the Internet, some blogs and comment boards are questioning Pepsi's motives, with one blogger saying cheers must be "organically spread."
"Such cheers can't be forced upon us by a multinational corporation," Mike Boon, a Toronto-based blogger at torontomike.com, said in an e-mail.
But Dale Hooper, vice-president of marketing at PepsiCo, says the cheer is only meant create a "legacy for Canadian hockey."
"We've been partners with Hockey Canada for 10 years, and we look to build on that partnership," Hooper said. "This is not a marketing ploy as much as a chance for (Buma) to share this with Canadians."
Hughes will be in Saskatchewan for the duration of the tournament or, as he says, "until Canada wins gold."
This article is like a big ad for Pepsi, with the two men on PepsiCo's payroll getting 95% of the ink. I suppose my quote was in there to give it a little "balance". They could have used a few of my other points against the campaign.
When I read the vice-president of marketing at PepsiCo saying "this is not a marketing ploy" I choked on my Shreddies.
If you've watched any hockey lately, you've likely seen the ads for Cheer Nation. Pepsi seems to think the voices of Hockey Canada's fans need to be united with an official cheer. They've unveiled this new cheer under the marketing banner "Cheer Nation".
I've got several issues with this. Let's see... where should I begin...
The Premise is Faulty
Team Canada hockey fans don't need to be united. We are united. It's not broken and certainly doesn't need fixing. As my Twitter buddy @vinaymenon said, Cheer Nation reminds us all of New Coke and other forced marketing gimmicks.
The Cheer is Shitty
The cheer, in case you've missed it, is Eh! O' Canada Go!. That's awful. I'd be embarrassed to be caught saying that in public. I think I'll stick with the tried and true. Ca-Na-Da! Ca-Na-Da!
We Aren't Owned by a Multinational Corporation
PepsiCo, Incorporated is in the business of selling carbonated and non-carbonated beverages. There's nothing wrong with that, but this "Cheer Nation" moniker and the cheer itself is theirs. Hockey Canada fans are not sheep. We'll be cheering for Team Canada, but not for Pepsi.
And one more thing before I leave this topic for good. Pepsi promises the names of the first million fans to join 'Cheer Nation' in support of the cheer will be displayed in Hockey Hall of Fame. Thank you, PepsiCo for devaluing that hallowed hockey shrine with one fell swoop. I can't imagine anything minimizing the accomplishing of being displayed in the Hockey Hall of Fame quite like that.
You can keep your Cheer Nation. I'm not chanting for Pepsi.
Want more Toronto Mike blog entries? Visit the archives.