Saturday, February 8, 2014

Iceland Nod in Superbowl Spot Subtly Subversive

The Tim Tebow T-Mobile Superbowl Commercial may not just be a great commercial, but subtly subversive as well.

At approximately 48 seconds into the 1 minute version of the commercial, Mr. Tebow's last words are, "Bottom line...contracts hold you back! Am I right Iceland? You know what I'm talkin' about."

I ask myself, "What are you talking about Tim? And what does Iceland have to do with American football?" But if you ask what Iceland has to do with contracts holding them back, that is an entirely different matter.

After the Global financial crisis in 2007-2008, Iceland experienced its own financial crisis due to an overexposure of three of their banks to debt. Though similar to the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis, where many private U.S. banks were bailed out by legislation imposed on taxpayers, Iceland's solution was quite different.

Though privatized in 2003, Landsbanki served as Iceland's de facto central bank. Attracted by higher interest rates, a wave of foreign investors (primarily English and Dutch) transferred millions into Landsbanki's Icesave online savings accounts. However, on October 7, 2008, being unable to refinance debt, Landsbanki collapsed.

On two separate occasions, backing vetos by their President, Iceland's citizens voted to reject their government's bailout proposals for Landsbanki and its foreign creditors. Commenting on this in an address on Iceland's National Day, Prime Minister Mr Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson remarked, "Icelanders, as descendants of the Vikings, are highly individualistic and have difficulty putting up with authorities, let alone oppression. This was clearly demonstrated in the Icesave dispute, in which the people rejected an agreement it considered unfair. This position was later upheld by an international court, which showed that the people's sense of justice was a reliable indicator to follow."

In light of this, Tim Tebow's nod to Iceland is brilliant, if not a little subversive. And thanks to T-Mobile USA, he was provided with a huge Superbowl soapbox.