For some, the devotion to Winnipeg knows no bounds.
That’s especially found among fans of the city’s two major sports teams, the Jets and the Blue Bombers, and that loyalty shows in an online service that offers users to have celebrities send best wishes to others.
Cameo, which was founded in 2016 and only two years later was on the list of the 50 most genius companies by Time magazine. It has more than 30,000 celebrities on its roster who provide video greeting cards that can be uplifting, funny or just a different way to mark someone’s day.
The site has proven to be a big success. Cameo customers spent $US100 million in shout-outs in 2020, Forbes magazine reported in January, but it can be a priceless interaction with a favourite celebrity for those who have received a greetings. The message can be saved and looked back on, just like a keepsake letter or a kind greeting card.
"I still have it and I watch it again," says Kerry Gamble, a Winnipeg pharmacist, who received a pep talk a couple of years ago from The West Wing actor Joshua Malina. "It’s kind of nice. I do love Josh Malina, and he’s not really talking to me, but you can convince yourself he’s talking to me."
The price for the greetings range wildly. Boxer Floyd Mayweather charges $18,600 for a message — celebrities earn 75 per cent of the fee — while former B.C. Lions quarterback Will Arndt charges only $7 for birthday wishes.
In between are famous types such as Scottish actor Brian Cox ($490) who promises to provide the obscenity of his character Logan Roy from the hit HBO series Succession "in a very uncertain manner."
Among the more than 8,000 athletes on the site include former Jets star Teemu Selanne, who offers greetings for $123. The five-star ratings and many reviews he has received on the site — in both English and Finnish and from several Jets fans — are tangible proof he remains as beloved as ever in Winnipeg.
"If you guys have any request about happy birthdays, pep talks or whatever, don’t hesitate to reach me out and we can have some fun," Selanne says in his Cameo introductory video.
The present-day Jets, who hold their home opener tonight against Anaheim, are represented by defenceman Nate Schmidt. In the summer, the price for a greeting was $88 — the number he wears on the ice — but has risen to $109 now that the season has started.
Many more Blue Bombers are on Cameo, including stars from the CFL team’s stingy defence such as Jackson Jeffcoat ($19), Willie Jefferson ($31) both of whom receive five-star props from Blue and Gold die-hards.
The Cameo list includes several entertainers with Winnipeg connections, including Grammy Award-winning singer Chantal Kreviazuk, who suggests she’d sing her hit Feels Like Home for an anniversary for her $620 pricetag.
Kids in the Hall comedian Kevin McDonald’s fee is $62 for a zany birthday greeting, a sample of which is provided on the site.
Alan Small has been a journalist at the Free Press for more than 22 years in a variety of roles, the latest being a reporter in the Arts and Life section.