A Kinder, Cheaper, Prettier Pearson?
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A Kinder, Cheaper, Prettier Pearson?

Pearson’s new website, launched yesterday.

You probably thought Pearson was just a grim necessity of life in Toronto, but no! Now, subsequent to yesterday’s launch of the airport’s new website and logo, it’s a “leading international gateway,” committed “to being the ultimate host.”
Why the change?

Pamela Griffith-Jones, chief marketing and commercial officer for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (the nonprofit that operates Pearson) told us it all boils down to staying competitive. Torontonians, she explained, can go elsewhere.
“They do have choice,” she said. “They have choice locally. They could try out the Island for certain domestic and US flights. People do go down to Buffalo.”
“But really what our goal is, is to get people to choose to connect through Pearson, versus other airports potentially south of the border.” Griffith-Jones says connections currently account for about 26 per cent of Pearson’s traffic. They’d like to bump that to 30 per cent.
That’s what the new brand identity, created by local design firm OVE, is trying to communicate. All those multicoloured lines are supposed to represent happy travelers from all over the world convening at Pearson—by choice. (They also look a little like a crime-scene outline done in sidewalk chalk. Cute!)
It’s a far cry from Pearson’s former brand image, which was essentially non-existent. GTAA’s staid grey and blue logo was on all the airport’s publicity materials, including its website.

Pearson’s website, before.

“This is about creating an awareness and an image around why you should choose Toronto as a place to visit, and Toronto Pearson as a place to fly through,” said Griffith-Jones.
As part of the branding relaunch, which began about a year and a half ago, GTAA has been ramping up Toronto-related art installations for guests to ogle, and has even begun the process of improving retail at the airport, both by luring new merchants into the terminals and by casting a critical eye on pricing.
“We have a program where we’re tracking what the average cost of a bottle of water is outside [the airport],” said Griffith-Jones.
“We’re saying to our retailers, you’ve got to sell that within a certain range. We don’t want people to think that all of a sudden everything costs three times as much in an airport.”
If you’re like us, purely for lack of choice you’d continue to use Pearson even if a pre-wrapped sandwich and a bottle of water cost $13—which they did when we swore off Pearson food two years ago, and we probably have the receipt somewhere to prove it—and even if the only amenity in your terminal was an uncomfortable seat.
But at least somebody’s trying to rectify the situation.