Addicted to novelty since 2001

Rock 101 and Terry Fox

I had the following frank exchange of ideas with Robin LaRose at Rock 101, a popular radio station here in Vancouver. I emailed the station with this:

Tonight I saw your TV ad that seemed to review the last 25 years of Canadian history. It’s shameful that you chose to include Terry Fox in your marketing campaign. You know what? He didn’t die trying to run halfway across Canada so that you could use his image to sell your radio station. In the future, I’ll be listening to a radio station that can respect Canada’s heroes, not exploit them.

I don’t really listen to Rock 101, but explaining the ramifications of a company’s misdeeds is a cornerstone to a good customer complaint. Mr. LaRose replied thusly:

Thanks for your email and comments. To clarify, it wasn’t our intention to exploit Terry Fox in any way shape or form. Programming chose those specific images to solicit an emotional, proud and to some degree, “local” connection with the Classic Rock 101 adult demo that remembers those “proud” moments in time. The music selections in the tv commercial also reflect several decades of rock history with adults 35-54.

To which I replied:

Thanks your response. Your goal clearly was to exploit Terry Fox’s image. That’s how advertising works: a company associates its products with concepts that the consumer feels good about. What, after all, does Terry Fox have to do with rock music? I think it’s deeply inappropriate to use one of Canada’s heroes to sell your product. I’ve cc’d the local chapter of the Terry Fox Foundation, as I thought they might be interested in our discussion.

Later in the day, I was pleased to be cc’d on this carefully-phrased email from Darrell Fox, the national director the Terry Fox Foundation, to Mr. LaRose:

I will not comment on your rationale for including Terry’s image in Rock 101’s recent TV advertisement. However, I will say that it has been our experience over the past 24 years that those wishing to use Terry’s name, image or likeness have approached The Foundation for approval before pursuing initiatives that feature his profile. We have been told that it is out of respect for Terry Fox and the philanthropic nature of his mission that prompted them to contact us for consent. We truly appreciate their kindness. I am hopeful this information is of interest to you.

Ha, ha, I got Rock 101 in trouble. Asshats. You may recall that I made similar complaints to GMC and Bell Canada about inappropriate Remembrance Day advertisements.

6 Responses to “Rock 101 and Terry Fox”

  1. Hugh

    I’m sorry, Darren, I am a stupid American. Who is Terry Fox?

    Regardless, what you did is fantastic.

    Also, “asshat” is one of my favorite curse words.

  2. Darren

    I thought about explaining who he was, but then I remembered that my Irish friends already knew. So, I figured he was pretty well recognized. From this page (

    Terry Fox was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and raised in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia, a community near Vancouver on Canada’s west coast. An active teenager involved in many sports, Terry was only 18 years old when he was diagnosed with osteogenic sarcoma (bone cancer) and forced to have his right leg amputated six inches above the knee in 1977.

    While in hospital, Terry was so overcome by the suffering of other cancer patients, many of them young children, that he decided to run across Canada to raise money for cancer research.

    He would call his journey the Marathon of Hope.

    After 18 months and running over 5,000 kilometres (3,107 miles) to prepare, Terry started his run in St. John’s, Newfoundland on April 12, 1980 with little fanfare. Although it was difficult to garner attention in the beginning, enthusiasm soon grew, and the money collected along his route began to mount. He ran 42 kilometres (26 miles) a day through Canada’s Atlantic provinces, Quebec and Ontario.

    It was a journey that Canadians never forgot.

    However, on September 1st, after 143 days and 5,373 kilometres (3,339 miles), Terry was forced to stop running outside of Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs. An entire nation was stunned and saddened. Terry passed away on June 28, 1981 at age 22.

    The heroic Canadian was gone, but his legacy was just beginning.

    To date, more than $340 million has been raised for cancer research in Terry’s name through the annual Terry Fox Run, held across Canada and around the world.

  3. becky

    The power of a pissed off Canadian — I love it! :)

    We rhetoricians are proud, db.

  4. morph

    Yeah, just picking somebody like Fox to associate with your radio station is bad taste.

    At least time it to coincide with a Fox run and make a dontation to the foundation. All the guy at 101 said was “we exploited his image” in other words.

    I hate how people think that using a synonym of a word makes it not that mean that word.

  5. Bob Smith

    At least it wasn’t a CFOX commercial

  6. JD

    Great Work The radio Station was completely using Terry Fox’s image to garner emotional support for thier demographics…!and.>That
    is exploitation of our countrys finest heroes as far as this writer is concerned I followed Terry from the time I saw him on “The Vancouver Show”back in the late seventies(1979-ish)I was taken aback by his couarage and intestinal fortitude. The thought of a one legged person run a marathon a day across Canada .! Amazing I thought and I folowed him ever since.. He is my hero. Good for you to take on that station and give them asses the what for.. by the way Many Americans Do know who Terrence Stanley Fox is and so do many people around the planet… take care JD

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