Fred Rogers (that’s Mister Rogers to you) gave us toddlers some nuggets of wisdom that went far beyond the necessity of promptly feeding your fish, advocating for publicly funded television, or the latest cardigan trends—he taught us the importance of a good neighbourhood. That said, we’re pretty sure King Friday was never accused of jerking Lady Aberlin’s chicken, like Toronto’s Ed Pottinger, owner of Riverside’s The Real Jerk.
Fine, the street parties are a little more G-rated in Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood. But last year’s popular “My Neighbour” campaign proved Torontonians’ community camaraderie isn’t afraid of a little spice, or a few puns. It wasn’t just Pottinger’s poultry pluck that was featured in the campaign promoting local businesses. Other posters praised neighbours trimming each other’s fat, scooping each other’s girls, and selling each other “home grown.” We blushed, both from bashfulness and local pride.
Earlier this year, the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas put out another call for cheeky, chuckle-churning double entendres from the public, inspired by their community businesses. After an open call that ended in March, the finalists for the “My Neighbour” Shop Local Campaign are open for votes until tomorrow at 5 p.m. And, as it turns out, our neighbours have kept up their mischievous antics over the past year. With neighbours who are exhibitionists and material girls, who keep us up all night, cut the cheese, and give us crepe, who needs enemies?
Toronto is a city everyone loves to hate from time to time, us included, which makes such an upbeat campaign endearing. It capitalizes on the fact that the things we do love, we love a lot. Much like Leafs fans will argue to their dying days that next year will be the year for the Cup, Torontonians are hell-bent positive that their neighbourhood is hands-down the best in the city. And when we find a tailor, a veterinarian, a café, or a seamstress we love, everyone absolutely has to give them a try. And what we love most is if we can broadcast our picks, preferably in the form of a Best Of list, to as wide an audience as possible, and convert them into fans of our favourites.
Toronto also loves “badvertising.” In particular, badvertising campaigns from the City that, like the “We Want It” Guys, prove our administration has a sense of humor too. It’s a little offbeat, being preoccupied with the mystical carihurricanebou and insinuating we’ve got a Rear Window–like infatuation with our neighbours in fishnets. But it’s fun.
And, thus, we love “My Neighbour.” Because it keeps our eyes on the entire city, our money in our local ‘hoods, and our minds in the gutter.
Vote for your favourite “My Neighbour” poster online until Friday, May 27, at 5 p.m. First prize is a weekend for two in Toronto.