Mon 22 Feb 2010
I usually try not to get caught up in all the negativity, but after watching my beloved Canadians absorb a 5-3 drubbing at the hands of the “Miracle on Ice”-fueled Americans, I feel compelled to vent some of my Olympic-sized cynicism.
It has to do with the slogan jammed into nearly all of the messaging for the Vancouver Olympics. Specifically, I’m talking about the way we use the word “Believe“.
It began when CTV, Canada’s largest broadcaster, was successful in its $450 bid for the Canadian broadcast rights to the game. CTV immediately went out and had a composer put together a song meant to embody Olympic virtues entitled “I Believe”. Then CTV hired cherubic 9-year-old Nikki Yanovsky to sing the lyrics.
Then North America’s oldest company, the Hudson’s Bay Company, took the “Believe” slogan and slapped it on every available piece of cotton-poly blend in its warehouses and priced the products within reach of all but the poorest of Canadians.
Then the ad companies came on board, filling the airspace between episodes of Two and a Half Men normally left for SlapChop* commercials with endless commercials featuring attractive children in branded athletic wear challenging our patriotism with the threatening “I believe. Do you believe?” slogan.
What else could you do but get caught up in the Olympic fever? There was no doubt in our collective minds that a Canadian would be at the top of every podium. We believed.
And when you think about it, “I Believe” is a very Canadian way to prepare for a major international competition. If I believe it enough, it will happen. We could have gone with any number of other options. I Prepare. I Work Hard. I Visualize. But I Believe? Compare the Canadian “I Believe” slogan with some of the ones adopted in other countries in preparation for the Games:
Germany: “I Train”
Russia: “I Dabble in Pharmaceuticals”
USA: “I Enlist Major Corporations to Tap Into the Motivating Power of Money By Remunerating Amateur Athletes Like Professionals”
Korea: “I Pay Off Judges. Also, see Russia, above”
France: “I Loathe Foreigners”
Norway: “I Have Nothing Else on the Go”
Me? No thanks. I couldn’t possibly. I’m Canadian.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not prepared to join the growing chorus of negative nellies who are itching to slap the “Worst Games Ever” label on the Vancouver Games. On the contrary, I’ve been glued to the TV for nearly every moment of action, notwithstanding Canada’s apparent continuing love affair with 4th place. But as we enter the second week of the games, how do we feel about the I Believe slogan? Here are some proposed “revisions”:
I Believe The First Nations Groups We Invited will Show Up on Time
I Believe That the Hydraulics Will Work
I Believe that Viewers Want to See Wayne Gretzky Riding in the Back of a Pickup Through the Streets of Vancouver
I Believe in Safety Padding
I Believe in Chris Pronger
I Believe in Saving a Bit for the Final Lap
I Believe the Own The Podium Program Will not Come Back to Slap Us in the Face
[By the way, the SlapChop is absolutely useless. Everything sticks to the stupid blades, and you have to slap it down with the force of a hammer blast to make the damn thing work.]