It’s true. I can’t do it any more. I can’t manage, can’t keep my cool, can’t maintain a semblance of reason any more. Not when this thing is prowling the carpeted corridors of my consciousness.
I’m talking about the Tim Hortons commercial. The one that violates geometry and promotes their egg white breakfast sandwich.
For those of you who don’t want to watch a thirty-second Canadian advertisement, here’s a quick transcript.
INT. DAY. A woman in FUSCHIA enters a disconcertingly open office lobby. The only other employees at this firm are a young blonde woman played by KATIE ODEGAARD and a reedy NERD with a chip on his shoulder a mile wide.
Fuschia: Alright… egg white breakfast sandwiches from Tim’s!
Katie: Look at us starting the New Year off right. (yes, with a fast food sandwich of stabilized egg white and processed cheese)
Nerd: (bites into sandwich, moans as if he’s munching on the flank of God) Mmmmm…
Katie: Egg whites for breakfast…
Fuschia: This morning I went for a jog!
Katie: I did yoga.
Nerd: I stood on the bus.
(incredibly awkward pause. THE NERD IS TALKING OMG.)
Nerd: I wasn’t sitting, I was standing, so…
Katie: But you’re - you’re not moving…
Nerd: Then how did I get here? (smirks like an asshole)
(The camera holds on Nerd’s smirk. Perky VO launches in about sandwiches. Nerd stands up, continuing to talk and gesture as Katie eats and Fuschia stares at him like something she accidentally brought in on the sole of her shoe.)
Okay. I do not understand one moment of this commercial. First off, take a look at this office.
I know what you’re thinking - “There’s something weird there, but it’s Canada, so whatever.” But I can tell you, not even Canadians abuse lobby space like this. These people clearly aren’t a team of receptionists - why have their desks been placed so close to the front door? Are they being punished in some way? Are the upper floors being fumigated? Nor can I see why the woman in fuschia is so impressed with her purchase from Tim Hortons when it’s right across the street. Surely this can’t be an event worth discussing.
Also, the doors of this office have a distinctly utilitarian feel.
Imagine how cold that place must be in winter, with that metal door swinging open whenever someone walks in. It’s like their fancy creative agency vibe got mixed in with a frigid shot of Fire Exit Brutalism.
But that’s not the real problem with this ad. The real problem is that this office is haunted. How do I know? Because The Nerd interacts with a ghost.
In this ad we see three people. The ad goes to some pains to block out their positions, with the Nerd perched uncomfortably on the edge of a desk and the two women in their chairs. Here’s The Nerd:
Here are Katie and Fuschia:
And here they are in relation to each other:
Given the spatial relations established in these shots, then, it’s perfectly reasonable that The Nerd should be looking to his right when he talks to the women:
But in the shot accompanying the punchline (the “asshat smirk” shot), he’s clearly making eye contact with a phantom:
Why is he directing his smugness the wrong way? Who is he talking to? “Ha, I showed you, Lobby Ghost. It’ll be a long time before you impugn my fitness regimen.”
The alternative to my ghost hypothesis (aside from the possibility that the original cut of the commercial featured another character that was hastily cut when focus groups flopped to the floor in a spontaneous grand mal of revulsion) is that this ad is actually a snippet from a Tree Of Life-style rumination on humanity’s origins. How did I get here indeed.
Here’s my favourite image, by the way.