Like all Amazing Race episodes, roadblocks are typically designed to either show a unique cultural element or promote a sponsor’s product. But the show had to be extra sensitive about how it approached this leg, since it focused on the Canadian D-Day military cemetery at Bény-sur-Mer and the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Juno Beach and elsewhere.
This sensitivity also had to be extended to social media, or the show risked being perceived as exploiting something sacred to most Canadians — namely, the sacrifices of Canadian World War 2 veterans.
The show’s official Twitter account, contestants, and host Jon Montgomery set the tone with tweets touching upon their experiences at Juno and Bény-sur-Mer.
— Jon Montgomery (@jonmonty) August 20, 2014
The Juno Beach Centre Twitter account also tweeted during the episode, receiving 4.1 per cent of all tweets mentioning the show. This is extremely high for any group or organization featured on the show.
The impact of Bény-sur-Mer, Juno, and D-Day veteran Jim Parks, who greeted contestants at the Pit Stop, was expressed by viewers on Twitter.
— Vanessa Gonzalez (@VGonzee) August 20, 2014
Almost all the comments were respectful and many viewers expressed gratitude and pride about being Canadian.
Jim Parks was mentioned in eight per cent of tweets, with nearly every tweet personally thanking him for his sacrifice.
During the episode ARC also promoted the hashtag #OurCanadianHeroes, and it ended up representing an incredible 26.1 per cent of all tweets. This is definitely the most influential promoted hashtag on The Amazing Race Canada to date.
Overall the show saw a 55.3 per cent increase from last year, but a decrease from last week of 13.9 per cent. However, the post show last week have skewed these results somewhat: If comments from the post show are removed, this week’s show featured a decrease of just 5.8 per cent.
In many ways, the Amazing Race Canada is the ultimate travel brochure for all things Canadian. There’s nothing wrong with educating Canadians on sacrifices made on Juno Beach, and if approached properly, social media can have a role to play if done with tact.
The Amazing Race Canada did a great job achieving this balance. In fact, the episode prompted curiosity and questions from one of my children on the significance and sacrifices made by Canadians and other Allied soldiers on June 6, 1944 in Normandy, France.