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.