Video: Faux Supermarket Ads Drive Nunavut Food Price Boondoggle Home With Humor

Parody supermarket commercials draw attention to the problem of outrageous food prices in Nunavut, Canada's northernmost territory and home to Inuit.
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Beyond-prohibitive food prices in Canada’s north are no joke, but these fake grocery ads have succeeded in bringing attention to a devastating nutritional problem with their deadpan delivery.

“Really high prices for everyday items, oooh, it’s the Way North way,” coos the chorus on the jingle for the faux-supermarket Way North Foods in these public service announcements highlighted recently by Adweek.

“We’re committed to bringing you the high prices you just won’t find anywhere else,” says the store manager, coming at you down the aisle. “Our prices just keep rising.”

They are well done enough to have gotten noticed by Adweek’s AdFreak column, whose writers scan the Internet for the best and worst in advertising.

“Three parody commercials by Calgary agency Wax for a fictional supermarket called Way North highlight the problem with the obligatory bad jingle and footage of grinning store workers shilling goods at costs so outrageous they seem impossible,” Adweek reported. “The problem is, those price tags are real.”

The price problem has gotten coverage in Canada. Last summer the Nunavut Bureau of Statistics released examples of how food prices in the country’s northernmost territory are at least double what Canadians elsewhere pay, CBC News reported. Sampling prices in the 25 communities comprising Nunavut during March 2015, the bureau compared them with average prices as outlined by Statistics Canada.

“The average Canadian pays $5.03 for a 2.5-kilogram bag of white flour, while Nunavut residents pay more than double that, $13.60,” CBC News said.

Thus the video advertising a $28.54 head of cabbage is on the mark. The situation is not without hope, however. The ads give a web address for Way North Foods that leads to a site called End the Price Hike, which is working to mitigate the issue. 

The problem applies not just to food but also to any item that must be brought in from farther south—which is pretty much everything, given the region’s remoteness. An example of that went viral in 2010, when a Nunavut man was given a delivery estimate of $1 billion for a sofa.

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“Way North Foods isn’t real,” reads a text disclaimer at the end of each ad. “But for families in Nunavut, its prices are.”

The background to the words is the bleeping sound of a cash register, which happens to also sound eerily like the bleeping one would hear issuing from equipment in an intensive-care hospital ward.