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Do either of these ads say “Toronto” to you?
Captions: at left, “Do you think I need a breast reduction?”, at right: “Tonight I’m not Susan. Call me Antoinette.”
They’re the city’s new “T.O. Live With Culture” ads. Made from leftover money from the Live With Culture budget, they are supposed to target American tourists: according to CTV, “the ads are destined for alternative weekly newspapers in eight U.S. border cities. Readers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh will see them.”
Unfortunately, the ads are aggressively unfunny, trying so hard to be quirky and edgy that they uh…aren’t. So, what do these images say about Toronto? Well, apparently, we hate breasts, but we like…cats?
The main message of the ads is just as off as their stabs at humour. If we’re serious about marketing ourselves as a world-class city, we shouldn’t have to compare our art, film, or theatre to anyone elses — especially when our films are nothing like Hollywood’s, our art is nothing like Paris’s, and our opera is nothing like Italy’s. Maybe the posters should say “Nothing Like Paris,” or “Nothing Like Hollywood,” and leave it at that.
It’s not all bad, though, as there is one bright spot in the campaign entirely worthy of props: the ad for New York. It’s cute, funny, and is far closer to saying “Toronto” than any of the others, mocking our ultra-nice image (that may or may not be a realistic portrayal). The ad shows a man offering a spot in a taxi cab to a very pregnant woman and her partner, but the woman is shrugging and tells her partner that “To be fair, honey. He was here first.” Cute. Funny. Not hilarious, but your average Buffalo reader may pause as they flip through their alt-weekly and see it. So why couldn’t all the other ads have been as good as that one?
Thanks to Reading Toronto for letting us know about the ads. Ad images from