America's neighbors to the north — so often the butt of their jokes — are taking to social media to try to keep spirits up in the U.S. during this divisive election season.
Using the hashtag #tellamericaitsgreat, Canadians have swamped Twitter with compliments about American music, culture, technology and even tailgating. The outpouring of love triggered a reply — #TellCanadaThanks.
It's all an effort started by the Toronto-based ad agency The Garden Collective, which chose its hashtag as a play on Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump's campaign slogan, "Make America great again." The firm's video launching the social media push has gotten over 752,000 YouTube views and the hashtag has been trending on Twitter for several days. Many Canadians have made their own mini-videos, too.
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Dic Dickerson, managing director of the firm, called it a pet project they devised for no other reason than to just spread love. "We put it out there and I don't think any of us expected to get as much traction as it did but we're really, really excited by all the positivity," he said. "A lot of people are talking, which is exactly what we wanted."
The agency was found about 18 months ago and usually focuses its attention on businesses. Dickerson said they'd never done anything like this.
"Every day we come in and the founders and myself and our team, we sit around and sort of talk about what's new, what's everybody reading, what are we looking at, and it always sort of came back to this notion of just how negative everything was about this upcoming election," he said. "You can either pile on with the negativity or try to look at the positive side of things."
Some of the things Canadians say they admire about the U.S. are its federal parks, its diversity, its missions to Mars, jazz and Tupac Shakur. One Canadian from Halifax on Tuesday complimented Americans for baseball, "The Catcher in the Rye" and first lady Michelle Obama.
Canadians, who have long been mocked by their southern neighbors for their accents ("aboot"), their creation of Justin Bieber and an apparent abundance of moose, have enjoyed some good press recently, largely thanks to their telegenic new prime minister, Justin Trudeau.
Americans, meanwhile, have been in the doldrums as Trump and Hillary Clinton face accusations of running a squalid campaign for presidency, not to mention several dispiriting Hollywood breakups, including the demise of Brangelina. The land that gave the world Ryan Gosling has now proven as seemingly warm and kind as that sensitive actor in America's time of need.
"Don't worry neighbors, if the election goes haywire, you can all come and live up here with us, plenty of room!" wrote one Canadian on Twitter.
Only the most cynical people would suspect this, but might the cheer-up ad campaign be really a massive attempt to troll Americans? Is this just a big mocking of the Yanks? Dickerson said no.
"It's only coming from a place of love," he said. "We've kind of been joking around about it like it's a collective group hug from your neighbors to the north. It just felt right at this moment to share the love."