Those Old School Ads For Canoe Cologne Probably Say More About Us Than We’d Like to Admit

Just, wow.

Jill Francis
8 min readAug 20, 2022
An empty, glass bottle of perfume sitting in beach sand.
Photo by Karolina Grabowska

Look. I know that I have many advanced degrees–one of which, if I remember correctly, was bestowed upon me by an Ivy League institution. And I probably should be using my research and analysis skills to do something important like dissect cryptocurrency which Joshua Edward does exceedingly well over on his page. Instead, I found myself completely absorbed in doing a meta-analysis of the advertising campaigns of a drugstore-tier cologne that you might pick up with a twin-pack of Metamucil and a can of cocktail peanuts.

I repeat: I am going to talk about Canoe. A fragrance that would set you back five US dollars at the height of its fame back in 1970 and is currently described (per the user forum on as a cologne that must have been pretty good because Tony Danza wore it.

I have no excuse for myself except that the world is a trashfire and this will make you giggle for like, five minutes so let me have a little fun, will ya? Let’s do this.

Once I found the 1981 version of the commercial on YouTube that I remembered for its sensual, yet nonsensical question, “Can you Canoe?”, I needed to know more. I had a feeling that I was going to learn more about humanity than could be contained in a…



Jill Francis

American immigrant in Italy with too many degrees in Psychology. I write about everything I’m afraid of.