The Roughriders. The Oath. And The Choddy. The Choddy. The Choddy.

If you have eyes and you’ve been using them to look at televisions or billboards, then you’ve probably seen the new “Rider Oath” ad campaign from the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Featuring a series of people proclaiming their fealty to the Rider Nation, the ads seek to cast a warm light on our fondness for watching oversize men in green satin tights slam into each repeatedly until they’re fired or traded.

Two ads have been produced so far, and I sense more in the pipeline. After all, there’s no reason for Steve Mazurak to stop ordering future installments of people standing in front of a camera with green and white makeup troweled on their faces; the ads are quick and cheap to produce, and participants only need to master a script that consists of two ambiguous sentence fragments and nine independent clauses, three of which are repetitions. What’s not to like about this setup?

There are two things not to like about this setup.

1) This ad is a choddy.

The “choddy” is a species of ad that showcases people reciting canned phrases into a camera while Adobe After Effects does nothing in particular in the background. The name was concocted or publicized by a group of media professionals who, after growing heartily sick of this particular style of ad, put up a web site called Stop The Choddy, which seeks to vivisect the already moribund form.

According to StC, your ad must meet at least three of the following eight criteria:

Simple, bland background (check)
A unified narrative with speakers finishing each other’s sentences (check)
Repetition (check, check, check)
Direct eye contact (check)
Waist-up framing (check)
Diversity of age, ethnicity etc. (check)
Persuasive statistics (nope)
Whoopi Goldberg (no, but the campaign mascot is a guy with dreads)

The choddy is usually employed in the service of issue advocacy (hence Whoopi Goldberg’s ubiquity). Here is Stop The Choddy’s choddy about the spread of choddies, which is freaking hilarious. “300 erections; 1,000 STDs; more than 10,000 diarrheas.”

Granted, the Rider ads are charming and fun, and they’re clearly poking fun at the choddy. But I fear that Saskatchewan advertisers, having tasted the choddy’s seductive ease, will now produce a thousand more of these things.

2) The ad directs you to a Facebook page.

I’m not a football fan (and therefore not a citizen of the Rider Nation, which the ad would have you believe is a paramilitary fringe group in terrible camouflage makeup), but I was curious about, the site that the Riders had created to accompany their ad campaign. Surely, I thought, if you take the time and expense to produce a series of television and print ads, you’ll plough some of those marketing dollars into a dedicated web page, with cool content, games, additional media, what have you.

Instead you get this:

Someone has persuaded the Roughriders marketing team that a Facebook fan page is the equivalent of an actual web site, that the ascendancy of social media has rendered the something-or-other web dead, and that clicking ‘like’ constitutes a satisfying payoff for fans who take the time to visit. By giving this page its own URL, they’ve promised that this site is a genuine web destination. Imagine┬áspending your two-week vacation in a quonset on the edge of town with pictures of Hawaii posted on the walls. That ain’t Hawaii.

Or maybe I’m completely wrong? What do you think?

Author: Aidan Morgan

Aidan is a very serious man who's saving up for a nice dignified pipe. Then we'll see who's laughing.

16 thoughts on “The Roughriders. The Oath. And The Choddy. The Choddy. The Choddy.”

  1. Re: Rider Oath: Wow, how incredibly racist. Not a single person of colour in the entire ad. I guess “Rider Nation” like to emphasize the “white” in “Green & White”. They should have called this one “Green & White Power”.

  2. Watch the second ad, Talbot, they seem to have noticed the Unbearable Whiteness of Green and made amends.

  3. Calm down, it’s not racist. The ad was “cast” by having fans volunteer and come down to the filming location to be part of it. You can’t use people of other backgrounds if they don’t show up to the shoot.
    I really don’t think race is the issue here..

  4. ..The real issue here is that the Facebook Page talks about a contest but you don’t actually have to DO anything, just sign up. Why not make people recreate the oath on video or something. Seems like a lack of creativity.
    And the other thing, their Facebook Page is just an RSS feed from their site. So you’re not really getting anything special by “liking” them.
    If the team wasn’t as successful on the field I think people would realize that the Riders’ social media and marketing isn’t that great. (ie. Last season their Twitter account was an RSS from Facebook but it looks like they’re slowly learning to actually tweet)

  5. Or maybe the real issue here is that this is cheesy and the people in the ad are creepy and it makes me wonder if being football fan requires turning in your “sane” badge.

  6. As much and I hate facebook becoming a marketing tool, it is. Tonnes of companies are running contests (which this is) on facebook and using facebook to promote their businesses. Its all about “sharing”, “inviting”, and “posting to your wall”. Social Media (I hear that term 20 times a day and it makes me want to kill myself) is the latest gimmick these days.

  7. Talbot – As Emmett mentions, the second ad seems to have a little more diversity than the first one. But when your pool is Regina Roughrider fans, there’s a lot of white in that green and white.

  8. This campaign encapsulates everything that people not a part of “Rider Nation” hate about the Riders and their fans: The arrogant notion that Everybody loves the Riders, and that the Riders are more CFL than any other CFL team. Yes, the Riders have fans all over the country, because of the mass exodus of people from Saskatchewan over the years. But the whole “We’re the kings of the CFL even if we don’t win! WOO RIDERS! You love us even if you don’t!” thing sure is easy to hate. It’s almost enough to make a guy start rooting for the Bombers. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA just joking…. but seriously, I’m a Rider fan and I’m starting to hate Rider fans. We’re becoming as bad as (maybe worse than?) Leaf fans.

  9. Well, I’m okay with the occasional choddy but this one needs to up the tempo — it’s too slow-paced. Should be all “bam-bam-bam!” Watch a Rick Mercer monologue: speed thrills. Yes, I know these are volunteers but the commercials’ director needs to get them to liven up.

    Thanks for the post, Aidan. Very interesting.

  10. I became a Rider fan when I was about 13 or 14, and I would sit in the “rookie section” for $2 by pretending I was 12 – I’d either get there by BMX or splurge for the bus.

    I remember sitting and talking football, with some older-than-me hippie looking guy who drank booze/coffee from a thermos. Him the pessimist (this was Rider football in the 80’s), and me the optimist.

    Riders won the grey cup that year (’89), and I saw a lot of games when me and the hippie guy were the only two people in the row and there wasn’t more than a dozen in the entire section. The new fans have done a lot for the team and the league but I still get a bit nostalgic for spending sunday afternoon watching football for $2 with some drunk hippie. Nobody talked about the Rider nation, no rider oath, or splashy ads- the action on the field was almost always what brought people to the game.

    These days the love of the Riders is almost too much. I remember quite a few days last summer fall when I wished people would talk about something, *anything* else.

  11. It doesn’t bother me if people want to talk football. It bothers me when a Rider runs for City Council (and coming this November, the Legislature) and a bunch of idiots in green come out with signs telling you to elect the guy without having any knowledge of his platform or political philosophy. It bothers me when being a drunken moron is fashionable if you happen to be wearing green. And it bothers me that the wrong impression of our culture is given through it all. It also bothers me that you can’t just “go to a game” anymore…. you are expected to get a goofy outfit on. No problem with the goofy outfits, and not to be anti-fun or anything, but somehow it’s just gone into overload.

  12. Last fall, the Dunlop Gallery presented an exhibition on the Rider Centennial. Former Saskatonian Brenda Pelkey did a series of portraits of Rider fans in their game-day regalia. If you scroll down on the post you’ll see a sample:

  13. Wow…the Riders are have posted 7 of their best years in a row financially and you are critiquing their marketing strategy? I heard they sold more merchandise last year than the rest of the league combined!

  14. Fair point Doug, thanks for the comment. At the same time, your “if it works, don’t criticize it” attitude bugs me. Criticism is great. It’s a tool to troubleshoot problems and make something better.

    Besides, I’d never heard of a “choddy” before I read Aidan’s post. Learning something new was fun.

    (And who says the campaign is working? It’s a new campaign. We can’t give it the credit for past success. Plus, a big factor in the Rider’s huge merch sales are the transplanted Rider fans across the country who are nostalgic and eager to buy stuff because they’re homesick. Even bad marketing will work on this ready-to-buy market)

  15. Ah, nice word. I love the 8 criteria for a choddy & that it only has to meet 3 of 8. don’t ask me why.

    Go Riders! Quonset huts for everyone!

    Especially @Talbot. Green and White Power. Snort.

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