Back to top

Why hockey and Viagra ads don’t mix

It’s been 18 years since I’ve been a serious hockey fan. In 1993, the Montreal Canadiens went to the Stanley Cup - and won against Los Angeles. Back in those days, I was a big time Habs fan--something I got into when I was 14 and bored. And I was into it big time.

 
I knew all the stats and I watched the Saturday night games in French because Radio Canada always had a Habs game on on Saturday, even when the CBC did not. It actually helped my French a lot, which I was a nice fringe benefit.
 
By 1994, my life had changed. I actually got a life by going to university, and I became distracted by school life. I still followed hockey, but only peripherally. By the time I left school in 1998, I had transitioned from hockey fan to someone pretty indifferent about the sport. I guess it was just one of those teenage phase things.
 
But it was about to bite me in the butt. I moved to Ottawa in 1998, and our nation’s capital has two things going on in it: politics and hockey. You cannot escape either of these things living in that city. Initially, I thought that perhaps living in a hockey town would reignite my passion for the sport. I did a bit of following (it was hard not to) but I found the game had changed, or--more realistically--my attitude towards it had changed.
 
I got to attend one Senators game, against Buffalo, and found it to be a mildly interesting evening. Being there live in the crowd didn’t do much for me, and I found I missed the commentating because all I did was swivel my head from side to side during the game, and that was kind of boring. So, this experience confirmed for me that my teenaged passion for hockey was indeed a phase.
 
Also, while I lived in Ottawa, I was an NFL widow, and if anything can turn one off of any professional sport at all, it’s watching a grown man have mock NFL drafts, accompanied by an online NFL draft clock, on the coffee table every evening, complete with potential draftees’ names on little bits of paper so that they could be easily moved around depending on where they might or might not be picked and by what team. It made me wish it was summer, so I could spitefully put the fan on and smugly watch the little bits of paper scatter all over the room.  But I digress.
 
I don’t live under a rock most of the time, so I am of course aware of the Canucks’ current pursuit of the coveted Stanley Cup. Because most of my favourite shows have gone on summer hiatus in the past few weeks (and some have been permanently cancelled, which is another rant for another time), I found my TV schedule needed some holes filled in. I found myself curious about the success of the Canucks, so I turned on game two of the Vancouver-San Jose series.
 
Voluntarily!
 
Now, I am a CBC Newsworld addict, but I am much chagrined lately over the recent spate of absurd Cialis ads that have pervaded their commercial breaks lately. Nothing ticks me off more than these ads featuring a happy-looking middle-aged dude getting patted on the back from other middle-aged dudes who can’t figure out why Mr. Happiness is looking so happy. Meanwhile, in the background, Mrs. Happiness (one hopes!) is looking all demure as she quietly makes a nice little floral arrangement while the kudos pour in.
 
I guarantee you this: Mrs. Happiness isn’t that happy. She is probably suffering from hot flashes and would rather be featured in an HRT commercial advertising a drug that eases some of her hormonally-induced suffering.
 
So, I turn on that game between San Jose and Vancouver, and within three seconds, what do I see? A huge Viagra ad on the boards of GM Place!
 
I was immediately disgusted and disgruntled. I know advertising and hockey go hand in hand--I’ve lost track of the names of the facilities that Canadian NHL teams play in because they are constantly changing to pander to corporations!--and of course I am used to seeing ads along the boards at arenas. But when I spied that Viagra logo and the blue pill I nearly lost it.
 
And the irony was too much: here we are at a huge sporting event watching men participate in a testosterone-driven sport, everyone’s going crazy, the Canucks are on the verge of making history, the blood is theoretically flowing though everyone’s veins like a tropical storm surge, and there, amongst all this masculine excitement, is a Viagra ad! I couldn’t believe it.
 
I was so annoyed to be assaulted by yet another ED advertisement that I nearly turned off the TV. There’s only so much of this ridiculousness a woman can take. Snarkily, I almost wished they’d make a drug to get me interested in hockey again after this huge turn-off. I can see a female market for that for sure. But I didn’t change the channel. Instead, I kept it on and read a book so I could listen to the game but not have to be confronted by that Viagra ad.
 
The next two games were in San Jose, and there were no Viagra ads there, thank God. Game five was in Vancouver, and I kept the sound off, which kind of sucked when that overtime goal was scored. I was on the throne and wondered what all the honking and cheering I could hear outside was all about, then I figured it out.  
 
Not surprisingly, the Golden City Cynic is not a bandwagon-type of person. While I do plan on watching the Stanley Cup finals, and while I will root for Vancouver, I’m not going to be waving any flags, wearing any T-shirts, or painting my face any funny colours. (By the way, when did the Canucks change their colours from the orange and black? Now I always feel like I’m watching the Hartford Whalers!) I have no desire to reignite the hockey passion I had in the days of yore.
 
It’s undeniable that this in an exciting event with some historic significance to it, but I’m not going nuts. I suspect I’ll be watching with a sense of detachment more than anything.
And I do hope GM Place gets some new advertising on the boards, ones that are a little more inclusive of women’s needs, like ads for chocolate, fleece jammies, and movies featuring Johnny Depp and cuddly kitties.