Yes, Virgin, There is a Sanity Clause
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Yes, Virgin, There is a Sanity Clause

Photo taken at Trethewey Dr. and Todd Baylis Blvd. on the evening of Wednesday, May 6, by Rami Tabello.

Astral Media Outdoor uses Geotargeting Exclusive Solution—a proprietary GIS program mashing up consumer data from Generation5 and cartographic software from MapInfo—in order to allow “you to concentrate advertising faces exactly where your target customers are found. By combining socio-demographic data with the habits of the target group, it builds a consumer profile that is accurate to the postal code level. It then maps the data for precision market targeting.” (Did you know that “The Toronto’s Asian Community” feels that they are “too tolerant of products and services that do not meet [their] expectations”?)

An example of Astral’s Geotargeting Intelligence System: the 70 transit shelters “within 1 km of where [members of the Asian community] live, work, shop and play.”

Astral also uses StreetSmartTracker—a proprietary web-based system developed by the IBI Group using a Google Maps mashup—to maintain an up-to-date inventory of every street furniture element that they own (including all Toronto transit shelters, regardless of who originally built them). Here’s the PDF of the User Guide.
Neither of these supposedly powerful applications, however, is evidently sufficient for letting Astral keep track of what ads they put up where. How else to explain that three and a half weeks after the TTC told Transportation Services to have Astral remove the ads making fun of subway suicides (and about three weeks since we reported on it and the Star, Globe, and others picked up on the story), some of the ads remain haphazardly scattered on shelters across the city?
Seven days subsequent to TTC Chair Adam Giambrone’s order, the Harbord-and-Huron location that first sparked our investigation was still untouched. We let Kevin Beaulieu, Giambrone’s assistant, know, and he informed us that he “was also told about one at Sheppard and Leslie yesterday, and when I checked with City staff yesterday was told that two were still up because they had difficulty removing them, but that they should have been down by end-of-day yesterday.” What kind of “difficulty” did they have removing them? “Just that there were ‘issues’ opening the light box.” Oy.
Since it was apparently just the two, we didn’t feel it was worth reporting on. But then another week went by, and a friend tipped us off to one at the southeast corner of Warden and Hollis Avenues in Scarborough. And then just two days ago, we got another tip of one still up at Trethewey Drive and Todd Baylis Boulevard in North York (which our pal generously drive out to to photograph for us).
There are surely more of these ads still out there, and given that most people (not unreasonably) assume that the TTC is responsible for transit shelters, every single instance makes the management of the public agency look, well, less than compassionate. If you spot any, let us know in the comments.