Written to the song: Never Be Like You — Flume ft. Kai
“Olympics for me is love, peace, united” — Jackie Chan
Tim Horton, an NHL hockey player opened up the first simple Tim Horton’s coffee and donut location in Hamilton. The small-town coffee shop grew an enormous amount and is considered to be Canada’s national food chain. When Canadians leave Canada, they miss Tim’s as much as they miss their families (sorry Mom and Dad). The Tim Horton’s brand uses nationalism in their marketing campaigns — and it works. Using slogans such as “Canada’s Favourite Coffee” and “You are why we brew” with a very Canadian scene or featuring classic Canadian hockey players. Each commercial uses key words such as “our”, “nation”, and “us” to create the imagine that all Canadians share the common experiences of praying to survive winter, waking up at 5am to play hockey, and that we all have Tim’s coffee instead of blood flowing through our system (I wish that was true during exam time). The reality is Tim Horton’s has succeeded to become Canada’s “national coffee shop”, even adding words to the Canadian lexicon such as “double double”, meaning a coffee with two milks and two sugars.
In the Olympics, most Canadians root for the Canadian team or the Canadian athletes in competition and are genuinely upset if the team loses. Why do we really care? Do we connect to the athletes, or is it the red and white maple leaf stamped jersey? I don’t personally know any of the athletes participating in the Olympics, but I always find myself sitting frozen on the couch cheering for my team (keyword: my). My Canadian nationalism truly comes out during the Olympics, who are the key players influencing this? I blame it on the advertisements during the Olympics, when all the ads change their language to follow the Tim Horton’s pattern of nationalism: “this is our team” and “our country”, showing clips of Canadian athletes sharing their stories, training schedules, and inspirational Canadian moments.
I would like to take a moment to analyse the speech of Carlos Arthur Nuzman, the President of the Organising Committee for the Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games. His speech was captivating and brought me to tears. Trust me, it wasn’t his presentation — it was the language that he used. The pronoun “we” was used 9 times throughout the speech, the pronoun “our” was used 13 times, and “us” twice. Nuzman discusses Rio’s values of social inclusivity, peace and desire to improve Brazil’s health care and education system. He spoke about South America’s magnificence and vast population of 400 million individuals. The pronouns he (or his speech writer) chose to use have power. These words make us feel like we are a part of a community, where the success of our greater community should be considered a personal success. This structure is similar to the structure of a collectivist community, such as in Japan.
Canada on the other hand is known as an “individualistic” society, rather than a collectivist society. Members of an individualist society focus on their own success, recognize their personal pursuits — existing for themselves (Biddle, 2016). Collectivism on the other hand is working as a part of one large team, where your success influences the success of the group, and the failure of a group member is seen as a failure of the entire community. Is the Olympics the formation of one big collectivist culture? The change in language seen within the realm of advertising during the Olympics, changes the overall impression of our country’s dynamic — changing the “my” country into “our” nation. This idea creates a shift making the typically individualistic society into a more collectivist culture. Where we root for the athletes of our country, and their success is truly our success. Those words are gold.
Biddle, Craig. “Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice — The Objective Standard.” The Objective Standard. N.p., 2016. Web. 22 Aug. 2016. (https://www.theobjectivestandard.com/issues/2012-spring/individualism-collectivism/)