Johnny Cash Was Once The Face of Canadian ATMs?
Country music legend Johnny Cash sure accomplished a lot over the course of his illustrious career; gold records, a hit TV show, living to tell the tale of the time he was almost disemboweled by his own pet ostrich. He was also the guy who helped introduce ATMs to Canada. Seriously. While Automated Teller Machines have been around since the 1960s, they didn’t really catch on in a major way until the ‘80s -- before that, most people who wanted cash had to line up and talk to an actual human being like complete suckers. So to help sell a new line of ATMs in the mid-’80s, bankers Canada Trust hired the Man in Black himself.
Why Johnny Cash? Partly because the ad used music reminiscent of “I Walk the Line” with the premise “Why Walk the Line?” meaning that customers could avoid crowds by using an ATM. So Cash, who was in the midst of a career slump, took the gig pitching these newfangled banking machines to Canadians. He was flown out to Hamilton, Ontario (near Toronto), where he recorded the commercial and hung out at the local Tim Horton’s (naturally), where locals likely assumed that he was merely some dude who looked like Johnny Cash. Canada Trust also stuck cardboard cut-outs of Cash in their branches, but most “ended up getting stolen or weather damaged.”
But most importantly, the Johnny Cash endorsement led to these ATMs being called “Johnny Cash Money Machines.” That’s how some Canadians actually referred to ATMs at the time. And we’d like you to imagine for a minute that this had stuck, that “Johnny Cash Machine” became the de facto term for ATMs the way that adhesive bandages are known as Band-Aids, and we call facial tissues Kleenexes. Sadly it didn’t. At least it may have paved the way for the time Johnny Cash sang about the affordability of the Taco Bell menu.
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