Frank and Gordon

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Frank and Gordon (Jules et Bertrand in francophone media) are fictional beavers that were the focal point of Bell Canada's brand and marketing strategy from 2005 to 2008.

Originally introduced in late 2005 in Quebec, and February 2006 in the rest of Canada, to promote Bell's sponsorship of the 2010 Olympics, the anthropomorphic CGI beavers were voiced in English Canada by Norm Macdonald (Frank) and Ken Hudson Campbell (Gordon).[1] Their misadventures with Frank getting flustered with the dimwitted Gordon made them two of the best known corporate mascots in Canada. The animated duo were created by Montreal-based Buzz Image for the Cossette advertising agency in Quebec City.

History[edit]

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Early years[edit]

The early commercials showed Frank and Gordon on their journey to becoming Bell mascots; from waiting outside the audition room with other human and animal hopefuls, to the audition itself, and then the meeting with Bell management when they were informed that they had "got the gig" while Gordon eyed up a sandwich on the desk. This third commercial was also the first to be created in two forms, one for English Canada, and a separate version for Francophone Canada. The English version showed them in a dumpy-looking office with a tired-sounding (but unseen) male manager who presented them with maple-leaf tuques (tukes, or woolen hats) to enhance their Canadian patriotism in their upcoming Bell commercials to air during the 2006 Winter Olympics. The French version took place in a plush executive suite, with a sultry-sounding (but unseen) female manager, who did not present them with toques. The next few commercials followed a similar thread, with Frank and Gordon getting accustomed to their new-found fame, and a house full of Bell TV/cell phone/internet -aided items at their disposal while watching the 2006 Winter Olympics. However, in the English versions, they always had their maple-leaf tuques on, and appeared in somewhat rundown conditions with ratty furniture and empty beer cans littered around, while in the French versions, the toques were not seen, and their living room appeared opulent. In one commercial, Frank pauses the TV picture on the Bell digital video recorder in the middle of figure skating that Gordon is watching, and urges Gordon to groom as Gordon coughs up a hairball. In another, Gordon claims to be sick of seeing himself on TV, so Frank suggests he go out of the house and exercise to lose some of his newly gained weight. Gordon replies that the camera "adds 10 pounds".

Post-Torino 2006[edit]

After the 2006 Winter Olympics, the different versions of commercials for English and French Canada seemed to be discontinued, with similar versions just being prepared with different voices. Frank and Gordon tapped into Canada's love of hockey in time for the 2006 NHL playoffs, both growing playoff beards, although Gordon shaved his accidentally one day while Frank watched "our team" on his Bell video-equipped phone. They recorded a song at the time, singing "What's more Canadian" - than hockey and beavers. Other commercials saw them in a limousine full of super-models while listening to music on their MP3-enabled phones, Gordon dancing in his bedroom to music on his phone before being interrupted by a shocked Frank, or in a shopping mall buying many Bell cell phones for friends as Christmas gifts, but then being unable to navigate a revolving door out of the mall. As time went by, human characters were introduced to the commercials with the computer-generated beavers. Frank, playing the suave "ladies-man" character, tried to make conversation with a woman buying an MP3 music player in a store, saying he had to keep up with the music scene as he played in a band. The woman was unimpressed, although Frank was certain that "she wanted me...". Gordon finished the sentence with "... to do what?" A number of commercials showed them appearing on a Letterman-style late-night TV talk show where they extolled the virtues of Bell devices to the host; while one of the last showed them in a bachelor pad with two attractive young women who had been enticed up by their offers of more high-definition television channels and faster internet than anyone else's apartment might have. While still amusing, the commercials had lost an ongoing, engaging story-line between the two main characters, and had become simple plugs for Bell devices.

Campaign end[edit]

The beavers appeared in their final ad for Bell on August 1, 2008[2] – more than a year before the Vancouver Olympics the pair was purportedly created to promote. Bell had recently been taken over by a new management team (in connection to its then-pending, but later canceled, sale to a group led by the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan), and a spokesperson for the company said that ending the Frank and Gordon campaign (and the introduction of a new Bell logo and ad campaign later that week) was symbolic of that change.

Parodies[edit]

Rock et Belles Oreilles[edit]

Frank and Gordon were parodied in French skits by Rock et Belles Oreilles' "Bye Bye 2006" show. They were featured on Télévision de Radio-Canada Two characters named Jim and Bertrand work as rats for Bill Canada.[3]

One skit featured Bertrand who was fired because Bill outsourced their calling centres to India. Bertrand, trying to wash windshields on the street, gets squashed by a car. The parody commercial ends with the message: "écrasez les syndicats avec Bill Canada", which translates to "squash trade unions with Bill Canada". The skit is based on two controversial events: the Bell Subco strike of 2005, and the outsourcing of Bell Canada's phone-based customer service to foreign countries such as India.

Another skit featured a parody of Frank and Gordon's infamous Megaphone commercial.

Videotron[edit]

To promote its Internet services, Videotron parodied the Frank & Gordon campaign with a commercial. It consists of a beaver, likely representing Bell Canada, in a wood logging competition against a man wearing a Videotron-branded helmet. While the beaver could only cut the log using its teeth, the Videotron man could use various wood cutting equipment such as a two-man saw or a chainsaw to represent different speed tiers. This allowed the man to cut out five different pieces of wood from the log. At the end of the commercial, the beaver is still cutting the log with his teeth, and has not finished cutting out a single piece of the log yet.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2006/02/frank_and_gordon.html source
  2. ^ http://www.cbc.ca/technology/story/2008/08/01/tech-bell.html
  3. ^ Bye Bye 2006

External links[edit]