He loves us! Well, doesn't not love us. Michael B. Jordan ponders Winnipeg on Jimmy Kimmel Live
'You have to think about it for a second, right? Don't not? Wait. Oh, he likes us'
Actor Michael B. Jordan delivered a knockout answer about Winnipeg on late-night talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live that immediately fired up the city's tourism machine.
As part of a segment called the least-Googled questions — Kimmel's spin on the overdone most-Googled-questions-about-celebrities trope — the actor was asked "Does Michael B. Jordan love Winnipeg?"
After a three-second pause and an expression that appeared to blend confusion and a smirk, Jordan responded, "I don't not love Winnipeg."
The star, known as Erik Killmonger in the Black Panther movies and boxer Adonis Creed in the Creed movies, a spinoff of the Rocky series, was on Kimmel to promote Creed III, which hits theatres on Friday. It's also Jordan's directorial debut.
Hi <a href="https://twitter.com/michaelb4jordan?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@michaelb4jordan</a>! 👋 Thanks for providing us with our next tourism campaign slogan! <a href="https://t.co/8J5Ail9mhS">pic.twitter.com/8J5Ail9mhS</a>—@TourismWPG
The "I don't not love" reply is one of those middling compliments that Winnipeggers embrace, like when Patrik Laine won Jets fans' hearts by noting in an online article in 2018 that "Winnipeg is good and the Wi-Fi in the city is pretty decent, too."
The current Columbus Blue Jackets player was a Jet then and reacting to some San Jose Sharks players calling Winnipeg the worst NHL city to play in.
Laine's comment was spun off into merchandise like mugs and T-shirts.
Following Jordan's comments, Tourism Winnipeg leapt into action.
The agency on Wednesday tweeted a video clip from Kimmel along with a Photoshopped image of Jordan on a T-shirt with the slogan "I don't not love Winnipeg" — the word "love" represented by a heart.
"Any time we have an A-list celebrity that is going to tell us they don't not love us, that's a win in our books," said Tyler Walsh, marketing director for Economic Development Winnipeg and Tourism Winnipeg.
"You have to think about it for a second, right? Don't not? Wait. Oh, he likes us, he clearly likes us."
The reaction to Tourism Winnipeg's tweet has been really positive as well, Walsh said.
"We're getting a ton of shares on social media. It's all lighthearted and it's all fun."
By noon Thursday, the video clip had been viewed more than 42,000 times.
The reaction, like that to Laine's comment, underscores how Winnipeggers perceive themselves, Walsh said.
"Obviously, as the primary economic development organization and tourist attraction organization in the city, we want people to shout from the rooftops about how amazing Winnipeg is, but we're a modest bunch in this city," he said.
For the record, the Michael B. Jordan T-shirts do not exist, nor does the slogan. Yet.
"I'm not saying that this is going to happen at all, but," Walsh said, noting the one-year anniversary of the city's actual slogan — "Made from what's real" — is coming up, and there are several collaborations with local companies to produce clothing.
"So if this [Jordan's slogan] lands on shelves one day and one of our collaborators wants to take advantage of it, then we would certainly support that."
Joking aside, there are genuine and valuable spinoff benefits when a big-name celebrity utters "Winnipeg," even if it only lasted as long as a blink and was the butt of a joke, Walsh said.
"It's a challenge and it's an opportunity, marketing a decently sized city in the middle of Canada. We always have to be creative and we always have to push really hard, because when somebody says Canada, a lot of people outside of Canada are like Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal," he said.
Jordan's comment created awareness, even if it makes some people say, "Winnipeg?"
"People are going to start to take a look at this place, from a tourist destination, from a place where they can bring their events, from a place where they can move, bring their business, all of those kinds of things," Walsh said.
"We ultimately want people to come and learn a little bit more about what our city can offer from all those different perspectives."
Although Jordan was tagged in the tourism tweet, he has yet to respond. If he does, perhaps Walsh can ask him another Winnipeg-related question:
Has he actually ever been here?
Meanwhile, Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham clapped back at Jordan telling reporters on Thursday, "I do not not love the Creed series."