Friday, August 26, 2005

Polarizing advertising

I was surprised to hear radio jock talk about the Canadian Tire advertising and how much they hated the bearded guy (think Bob Villa) who is a spokesman for the retailer’s gadgets and products. Maybe it’s my middling ways, but how could people get so excited and passionate about advertising that featured a wholesome family peddling pressure washers and inflatable air mattresses? A quick water cooler poll suggested that it was not just radio personalities, but also coworkers who had a hate on for the ads.

The company says it’s “positioning Dad in a respectful role” and continuing the company’s tradition of featuring fathers in weekend moments with their kids. In the mid 1990’s the company moved away from its slogan, “more than just tires” and adopted “I’ll start with you” (originally a song released as a solo in 1992 by Paulette Carlson, the lead singer of country group Highway 101).

As part of this extension, the company now hopes to appeal to mothers who now seem to be courted by all the traditional “guy” stores, like The Home Depot. This advertising approach is backed up by the opening of new decorating-style stores; wedding/gift registry; and on-the-go stores based around a gas station.

But coming back to the point of this post, I’m sure Canadian Tire (yes they tried CTC for a while to drop the “Tire” but this was around the time of KFC and never caught on) didn’t set out to create a mockable character. But perhaps the casual hatred is a sign that the advertising has penetrated the consciousness of views and resonated—positively or negatively—with them. Does not a parody of serious advertising mean that you’ve truly reached the top shelf?

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