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Canadian Club: Back at it again

November 13th, 2008     by Michelle Schwartz     Comments

So I thought (and hoped and prayed) that Canadian Club’s incredibly obnoxious (and homophobic, and racist, and sexist) “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” ad campaign was dead and gone.

The campaign, which had been my sole topic of conversation for what seemed like ages, had vanished from the hoardings, bus stops, and telephone booths all around Toronto, so I foolishly figured it had come to a close, like all ad campaigns do eventually.

On odd occasions, I even allowed myself to entertain the fleeting thought that it was my ceaseless nattering at Beam Global that had actually ended the campaign. Like the efforts I made had come to something, enough people had voiced their displeasure, and between Shameless and Time Out, Canadian Club had felt they had gotten enough bad press and alienated enough people to make bringing the campaign to a close their only reasonable option.

Well, I was wrong. While sitting at the airport, innocently reading the latest issue of Wired, I came across the campaign once again. Not only was is not over, but they are even making new ads. This particular iteration was entitled “Your Dad Never Used A Bridge” and was once again entirely populated by white men. There weren’t any explicit digs at women (progress?), and if anything, the assertions had become even more inane (apparently driving automatic transmission cars, which are basically the default across North America, is NOT MANLY), but still, clearly Canadian Club has felt their campaign of pandering to men by harrassing and insulting women has done well by them.

Their website is even selling “Damn Right Your Dad Drank It” merchandise, including a calendar of the ad campaign that promises to let you “Keep track of time like your Dad did” (by using a VERY MANLY paper calendar, not one of those sissy, metrosexual Blackberry things).


At the time of my initial campaign against Canadian Club, a reader suggested that perhaps I was giving them just what they wanted, that all publicity was good publicity, and bringing attention to the ad campaign in any way, no matter how negative, was just making their faded brand seem more relevant. At the time, I most heartily disagreed with this sentiment. Surely, not all publicity is good publicity, I thought, and using that logic, why would any of us ever protest anything? But now I am thinking, maybe they were right. Maybe I (and others all over the Internet) did bring Canadian Club way more attention than they would have gotten otherwise, and maybe they were counting on that. So I don’t know, what do you think? Do these companies feed off the controversy? Is all publicity good publicity? If so, would it have been better to have said nothing at all? And, if not, what is the solution?

How can we try to make sure our protests hurt, rather than help that which we are trying to stop?

Tags: media savvy

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