Vancouver’s new phallic-shaped cigarette mascot leaves us scratching our ash

Kudos and Kvetches

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cigarette mascot
The City of Vancouver debuted its new mascot to promote its new cigarette butt disposal initiative: “Ashley,” a human-sized cigarette. Photo Dan Toulgoet

We are pro-mascot.

Vancouver Canadians’ Bob Brown Bear.

Super Grizz.

Even Philadelphia Flyers’ nightmare-inducing Gritty.

They tickle us in a way few costumed adults have before.

But the City of Vancouver’s latest foray into policy-themed mascottery is just sad.

The city trotted out “Ashley” — a human-sized ciggie — to dance for media types this Wednesday as a way of promoting its new cigarette butt disposal initiative.

Admittedly, “Ashley” was an inspired nickname choice. Way better than Butty. Mind you, not nearly as cool sounding as Cig Vicious. Just sayin’.

But the name is not the problem. It’s a few other things.

First off, shouldn’t a mascot promoting what effectively is a personal, portable ashtray for cigarette butts be an ashtray? If you’re a mascot that looks like a cigarette, aren’t you essentially promoting cigarettes?

And what to make of Ashley’s flaccid appearance. There is something unsettingly phallic about that Ashley.  Seriously. Take a close look. Take away the filter and you basically have a mascot for an erectile dysfunction product.

And lastly, on a personal note: As we stared for far too long at Ashley, the city’s life-size cigarette mascot, and the dark jeaned-human who inhabits it, we couldn’t help but think how someone at the city was paid to invent Ashley. Someone was paid to put forth the notion that a campaign such as this required a mascot that looks like a cigarette, a mascot that requires hiring a person or persons to design and make a cigarette costume, and a person to wear said costume and dance at a press conference.

And that person at the city probably earned more than the reporters, photographers and other members of the media covering the event.

Talk about a kick in the butt.

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