Throughout Canada’s magical run in the 2013 Davis Cup, there has been a steady, unwavering presence at all of their matches – no, not any of the players, but the fans with the big giant heads in the stands. The big giant heads have been a mainstay at the ties – waving back and forth and up and down. For those unfamiliar with the big giant heads – they are not people, but large, blown-up cut outs of all of the Canadian players’ heads with various expressions of joy, elation and match play aggression.
The Canadian fans holding these oversized cut outs first appeared at the Davis Cup tie in Vancouver vs. Spain in the round of 16. The fans would rise from their seats and bounce and sway the big giant heads in the air as if they were moving by themselves. It turned out to be a great attention getter and rallying point for Canada during the matches.
When they turned up again in the quarterfinals vs. Italy (again in Vancouver), they were an even bigger treat to see because it seemed as though the big giant heads had multiplied. A trip to the Davis Cup semifinals was on the line – uncharted territory in the modern era for Canada (though Canada did make it to the semifinals way back in 1913 when there was way less competition). The vociferous fans were even more intent upon pushing Canada through to the semifinals. It was a treat not only to watch the tennis but to see the big giant heads waving in the crowd.
When Canada ultimately won the quarterfinal tie, it was nice to hear the players afterwards mention the big giant heads and the fans that carried them. The play on the court was essential but the fans and the big giant heads also played a part in the tie and the atmosphere in the arena. Without them, I think it would have been a much tougher tie to watch and become involved in. They made it possible to believe that Canada could prevail, even though at times it was unpredictable.
When the fans with the big giant heads turned up in Serbia, it was a complete surprise. Thousands of miles from home, they had made it across the Atlantic to cheer for the underdog Canadian team. To see them in the stands, again bouncing and waving the big giant heads, it made me think that anything was possible. The first thought that crossed my mind was ‘how did they get those things to Serbia?’ Mail? Courier? Freight? Printed in Serbia? It remains a mystery, until possibly someone reading this blog will reveal the secret of how the big giant heads made it to Serbia.
At times, the Canadian fans overpowered the Serbian fans in terms of volume, intensity and camaraderie. Even though Canada lost the tie and it was hard to watch, the best thing to carry Canadian fans through the weekend was the participation of the Canadian fans in Belgrade and their big giant heads. I have never seen anything like it before in Davis Cup.
It was a brilliant maneuver marketing-wise and brought out Canadian patriotism in such a unique way that it will always be remembered. Why another country hadn’t thought of this is a mystery. I’m quite sure that there will be copycats down the road in 2014 because it was such a success for Canada in 2013. Look for the big giant heads in 2014 in Japan.
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