Calexis

We had launched a cereal with Wayne Gretzky on the box and it was a success in Canada.  It was unusual because cereals are rarely launched in Canada alone.  Usually we relaunch cereals that have been successes already in the United States, our test market to the south.

Then one day, I got a call from Mike Barnett, Wayne Gretzky’s manager.  He told me he had expanded his business, added a heavy weight boxer, Willie deWit.  He had also signed a downhill skier, Rob Boyd, and was looking for a sponsor for Boyd.  He was running out of time because the alpine skiing season was about to start in Europe.

At the time, the downhill Canadian team, known as the Crazy Canucks, was regularly on the downhill podium. Steve Podborski, Ken Reed, Dave Irwin were already fairly well known.

I thought Boyd might be a good match for our new client, Fuji Photo Film, as down hill skiing was all about outdoor excitement.

We provided the introduction and Fuji decided to sponsor Boyd.

That’s when we learned Boyd had an extra large head, not in the normal size range.  We had to get a new fiberglass helmet made from scratch rather than simply paint one.

The first few races in Europe he wore an improvised helmet before we could get him the newly designed and built Fuji helmet.

We got the helmet in time for the World Cup race scheduled at Whistler, the only one in Canada.  Fuji invited key customers and many Japanese Fuji senior managers to come to the event.  My friend, Jacques Burelle, ran the event for Molson, the name sponsor for the event.

Boyd ran the race of his life, on the edge of crashing all the way down and became the first Canadian ever to win a World Cup event in Canada.

The Japanese higher ups were thrilled with their local Fuji management.  We actually used some of the CBC footage of Boyd’s championship run in our TV commercial to introduce Fuji’s new generation of 35 mm film.

We also did a promotion commercial with Boyd where we had Boyd walk around a studio in his skis.  Poor guy.  That shoot was a torture for poor Boyd.

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