Radio spots send weak signal

So, here I am driving through a Toronto winter, this is really boring, what's on the radio? Oh, God, it's Don Cherry, and he's yelling at me again. Change the station. My finger is now programmed to do that automatically. I...

So, here I am driving through a Toronto winter, this is really boring, what’s on the radio?

Oh, God, it’s Don Cherry, and he’s yelling at me again. Change the station. My finger is now programmed to do that automatically.

I have nothing much against Don Cherry – in fact, I may be one of the few people in this country who’s neutral about him – but man, do I hate the way advertisers use him. When he flogs insurance, he yells at me. When he sells his hockey videos, he yells at the recording engineer. When he was stuck in that lamentable Campbell’s Soup campaign, he yelled at his poor, stiff, straight man, Ron MacLean.

I’m sitting here, trying to deal with road rage – my own and everybody else’s – and Dandy Don is running up and down my spine wearing audio goalie skates. No, advertisers, it’s not cute. It’s annoying and tiresome. The man has a couple of different dimensions to his personality, please try another one. I really do change the station.

So what have I got over here? Oh, this is clever. It’s a parody of Regis Philbin doing Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? It’s the fourth one I’ve heard this week.

The Liquor Control Board’s version of Millionaire is slightly forgivable, because at least they had already been doing a quiz format (Which gets you drunk faster, beer, wine or booze?) Their shift to Regis Philbin’s verbal tics – the Brooklyn accent and ‘Final answer?’ – had a little relevance.

But all you other copywriters are just trying to steal a little borrowed interest. And you fail. Somebody once said, you can’t parody what’s already a parody, and that’s true with Millionaire. It’s a laboured joke. What’s worse, it has no connection to your product. Go back to the keyboard, please.

Hey, here’s a new spot. It’s for the Canadian Men’s Clinic, and it seems to be telling me that if I have Bob Dole’s Disease, I should place myself in their hands, so to speak.

The Canadian Men’s Clinic makes quite a claim. They inform me that they have ‘professional doctors’! I sure am glad to hear that.

I’m really tired of those amateur doctors, hanging out at the Lucy Van Pelt lemonade stand with their ‘YOU CAN BE A PHYZICIAN’ correspondence school diplomas. ‘Professional doctors’ are better, I’m sure.

I’ve got a feeling that radio is in a slump. I don’t think the agencies know how to do it anymore. I think there are only two groups these days who are any good at radio. First are the specialists, like Pirate in Toronto and Griffiths Gibson Ramsay in Vancouver (I guess we don’t talk about Koko in these pages), who caress radio and coddle it into its infinite potential.

The second group are the guys at the stations, who hack around in the studios after midnight, doing weird intros and station promos and the occasional car dealer spot. (Rick Moranis started that way at CHUM.) Nobody notices these guys, nobody panics about what they’re doing, so they get to do some pretty insane stuff.

Otherwise, I think radio gets second-class treatment, sloughed off on the way to the TV extravaganza or the big print shoot at Whistler. Or maybe I’m missing something. Maybe there’s hidden genius in the copywriters who have the guts to walk in to their boss waving a Don-Cherry-yelling script or a send-up of Millionaire. Or maybe not.

Wait a minute, here’s one more commercial on my radio, and I’m going to make a comment on it without slamming the creative. It’s for the Reform Party. They want me to send them my viewpoint (they must admire my column) on some issue or other, I forget what.

They do not offer me a mailing address. They do not offer me a phone number. After paying for a commercial soliciting public opinion, the only response mechanism they give me is an e-mail address.

This is not Lotus or Compaq or The Committee for Cybernetic Utopia. This is the bloody Reform Party, fer corn sake! These are the guys who think 1885 was a hell of a year, and are just about managing to come to terms with Gutenberg.

Hmmmm. Maybe the ad business ought to take this Internet stuff seriously.

John Burghardt’s checkered resumé includes the presidency of a national agency, several films for the Shah’s government in Iran, collaboration with Jim Henson to create the Cookie Monster, and a Cannes Gold Lion. The letterhead of his thriving business now reads ‘strategic planning – creative thinking’. He can be reached by phone at (416) 693-5072, by fax at (416) 693-5100 or by e-mail at

Corner Officer Shifts: Martin Fecko leaves Tangerine

Plus, PointsBet Canada and Thinkific name new marketing leaders as Lole gets a new ecommerce VP.
Corner Office

Martin Fecko departs Tangerine 

After roughly two years of serving as Tangerine’s chief marketing officer, Martin Fecko has a new gig. And this time, the financial services vet will apply his marketing leadership to a new sector, having been named CMO of Dentalcorp.

Fecko will lead the dental network’s end-to-end patient journey, support its overall growth, and work to maximize patient experiences across every touchpoint, the company said in a release.

“Martin’s in-depth expertise in engaging and retaining customers through a digitally enabled experience will be valuable in realizing our vision to be Canada’s most trusted healthcare network,” said Dentalcorp president Guy Amini.

Prior to joining Scotiabank’s digital-only banking brand in late-2019, Fecko was country manager for Intuit Canada and spent 10 years at American Express in consumer and digital marketing.

PointsBet Canada nabs former Bell marketer as it pursues expansion

Dave Rivers has joined PointsBet, an online gaming and sports betting operator, as Canadian VP of marketing.

Rivers joins from Bell, where he was most recently director of brand marketing and sponsorship, responsible for driving the company’s national sponsorship strategy and portfolio. He will report to PointsBet Canada chief commercial officer Nic Sulsky.

According to Sulsky, Rivers will “play a key role as we prepare to launch a business that is unique to our roots here in Canada.”

PointsBet has a significant presence in Australia, where it was founded, and in the U.S. In July, it named Scott Vanderwel, a former SVP at Rogers, as CEO of its Canadian subsidiary, one of several hires aimed at establishing the company’s presence locally.

Thinkific names first CMO among other executive appointments

Vancouver’s Thinkific, a platform for creating, marketing and selling online courses, has appointed Henk Campher as its first chief marketing officer as it invests in marketing to support its growth plans. It has also upped Chris McGuire to the role of chief technology officer and moved former CTO and co-founder Matt Payne into the new role of SVP of innovation.

Co-founder and CEO Greg Smith said Campher and McGuire “will play key roles building high-functioning teams around them and optimizing investment as we continue to carve out an increasingly prominent and differentiated position in the global market.”

Campher joins from Hootsuite, where he was VP of corporate marketing. Before that, he was VP of brand and communications at CRM giant Salesforce.

Lolë names new VP of digital omni-commerce as parent company exits bankruptcy protection

The Montreal-based athletic apparel and accessories retailer has appointed Rob French as VP of digital omni-commerce.

French will lead Lolë’s efforts in consumer insights, supply chain-to-consumer models and online customer journeys. In what is a new role for the company, he will also work to grow the company’s retail brand. He arrives with sixteen years experience in ecommerce, having spent the last few years as chief digital commerce officer at sporting goods retailer Decathlon.

In May 2020, Lolë parent Coalision Inc. filed for bankruptcy protection, citing several years of losses as a result of a downturn in the retail clothing market, increased competition and excess inventory – problems exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of the filing, Coalision was seeking an investor or purchaser of its assets.

It successfully exited bankruptcy protection last year and is currently rebuilding its executive team, according to a spokesperson.