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 www.rideroath.ca, 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 spending 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?