Canadian Tire Lights Up Toronto’s Union Station With Christmas Spirit Tree

Canadian Tire - Christmas Spirit TreeBefore the days of WalMart, Home Depot and other big box stores most of us watched our parents buy strands of Christmas lights from Canadian Tire to gracefully outline the silhouettes of our houses. Times have changed, but Canadian Tire is still there to supply us with illuminated Christmas spirit; and in 2011 the iconic Canadian brand is helping to light up the Grand Hall of Toronto’s Union Station thanks to the power of mobile and social media.

The Canadian Tire Christmas Spirit Tree is a state-of-the-art 30 foot tall installation consisting of 3000 LED lights powered by the positive messages of Christmas spirit being exchanged on Facebook, Twitter and posts to The white lights represent social networks like Facebook and Twitter, red lights represent posts on blogs and forums, green lights represent news articles and blue lights represent the messages posted at the website.

But apparently it’s even cooler than that. Our favorite (we use it at Delvinia) social media monitoring platform, Sysomos, is used to track a number of holiday keywords including “reindeer” and “elf”. The light bulbs then react to the data, shining brighter or dimmer according to the sentiment of the messages.

The Canadian Tire Christmas Spirit Tree is on display in-person at Toronto’s Union Station and on a live video stream at from December 12-26 from 6am to midnight. There are floor mat ads and column advertising in the lower GO concourse directing commuters upstairs to the Grand Hall to view the tree in person.

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Agency Thinks Outside of the Litter Box and Sees a PURRfect Future in Catvertising

John St Turns to CatvertisingEarlier this year, Toronto ad agency john st created some buzz with ‘Pink Ponies’, a case study spoof detailing gow the agency created an effective promotional campaign about an 8 year old girl’s birthday party.

Now John St is back with a new tongue-in-cheek video (embedded above) that reveals a surprising new direction, as they launch the world’s first Catvertising agency.

In the clip Creative Director, Stephen Jurisic explains, “We’re seeing a shift in consumer habits. Everything is moving toward cat videos, and the agencies that don’t realize that, get left behind.”

The video is both funny and well produced, but the whole concept veers dangerously close to the Kittywood Studios mockumentary clip with over 500,000 views that was posted on YouTube in August by Pixels per Second.

Maybe both these videos are simply playing off of the IKEA Herding Cats ad from 2010. In that project Mother London released 100 cats inside the Wembley IKEA store at night and filmed the results for a wonderfully effective TV ad.

What do you think? Simple coincidence, or are these two kitty-inspired concepts a little too close for comfort?

Mercedes-Benz Canada Blurs Reality Promoting New 2012 C-Class Coupe

Mercedes C-Class CoupeDrivers and pedestrians were doing double-takes as they rounded this corner in downtown Toronto today. A very sleek-looking black Mercedes was parked in front of blurred background creating an illusion that the car was speeding down the street. The scene included a blurred mailbox, parking sign, fire hydrant and ad copy that read ‘Looks Fast Even In Park’.

It’s all part of a clever promotion put together by Mercedes-Benz Canada to promote the new 2012 C-350 Coupe. The car will be back at this location on Peter Street just south of Queen Street West from 9am to 7pm Saturday.

The installation was created by BBDO Toronto, thanks to Peter Ignazi for the confirmation,

By the way, I know what I want for Christmas now.


Volkswagen Canada Creates Art Heist Promo for 2012 Jetta GLI

The Great Volkswagen Art HeistThe cool folks over at Toronto ad agency Red Urban are consistently hitting home runs with their work for Volkswagen Canada. Just last week I published a post about their augmented reality experience for the 2012 Beetle. The latest is the ‘Great Volkswagen Art Heist’, a bold experiential campaign unleashed across Canada for the launch of the 2012 Jetta GLI.

A few months ago Red Urban introduced the 2012 VW Jetta GLI with a TV commercial directed by Hubert Davis of Untitled Films. The shoot used a combination of traditional and long exposure videography to pain light trails using the headlights and taillights of a Jetta GLI. To see how they created the ‘Driving Beautiful’ ad check out the great ‘making of’ video.

Last week Volkswagen Canada began to reveal pop-up street galleries in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver where the public could find (and take) framed prints of the photography from the commercial shoot. The would-be thieves have been asked to post their ‘hot art’ in an album on the Volkswagen Canada page.

Follow the Volkswagen Canada Twitter page for next week’s locations.

Warner Brothers Creates Infectious Billboard to Promote Contagion

Contagion BillboardThe big-budget pandemic movie Contagion is due out on Friday, September 9th and Warner Brothers Canada wanted to spread (pun intended) the word to the people of Toronto in a unique way.

To promote the movie, Warner Brothers Canada and Toronto agency Lowe Roche created a storefront window display featuring what amounts to two giant rectangular petri dishes. They petri dishes were then treated with bacteria and fungi and installed as part of a display in the window. Soon the bacteria did what it does best, growing to eventually spell out the name of the movie.

The movie, directed by Steven Soderbergh tells the tale of a plucky virus that does it darnedness to wipe out the entire human population including Gwenyth Paltrow, Jude Law, Matt Damon, Kate Winslet and several other less good looking humans.

Catch it while you can.

Stella Artois Wants to Bring a Block Party to Your Neighbourhood

Stella Artois Légère - Neighbourhood PartyI was been lucky enough to stumble across the Stella Artois Légère “Smooth Taste Team” downtown last month as they handed out complimentary bottles of the light beer to a lineup of thirsty Torontonians. They’ll be continuing their giveaways all over Toronto up until July 9th, follow @StellaArtoisCAN on Twitter to find out where they’ll pop up next.

It’s not just about the free beer, people can use the PIN on the handout for a chance to win a Chef experience for themselves and 5 of their friends. That’s not the only party planned either, vote for your favorite area of Toronto including Downtown, Yorkville/Annex, West End, East End, Scarborough/Don Mills, North York and Etobicoke/Yorkdale. Whichever of these areas receives the most votes will get a Block Party hosted by 1 LOVE T.O.

Hey Toronto & Montreal, It’s OK to Cheat on Your City

The Cheating Wall‘The Cheating Wall’ located at the TIFF Lightbox is allowing Toronto pedestrians walking on King Street West to catch a live video glimpse the action on Maisoneuve Boulevard in Montreal. It’s certainly a fun way to create curiosity and encourage folks to visit each other cities.

The message on the wall reads, “It’s OK to cheat on your city. Pay Montreal a visit live, right here”. Torontonians can not only get a peek at Montreal, but they can join in daily events including a lunchtime dance-off, a long distance dinner party and even a 505km fashion runway event.

A full schedule of events can be found at the Visit Toronto Facebook page. It’s unfortunate that’s it’s so tough to see anything in the window during the day, but the video is running 24/7 until June 15th, so there’s a lot of opportunity for some fun interaction between people in both cities after dark.

Creative for the Cheating Wall came via the Toronto offices of Crsipin Porter + Bogusky’s Toronto office, with Smak doing street-level promotion and Monster Media handling the technology.

If you’re curious about the QR code in the image. I can confirm that it quickly and efficiently loads a schedule of the daily events.

Toronto Pearson Airport Unveils New Logo and Site Makeover

New Pearson Airport Branding & Website

Today the GTAA launched a re-brand of Pearson International Airport as simply Toronto Pearson, which is pretty much what we all called it before anyway.

The re-brand includes a new logo, colour scheme and new slogan: For You, The World.

“The logo’s multiple, vibrant colours represent the cultural diversity of Toronto and the world we provide access to. Together, the lines create a human figure that is embracing and reaching out to the world,” says Pamela Griffith-Jones. “For You. The World” puts our customers at the centre of it all, conveying our commitment to being the ultimate host while reminding them of our global reach.”

As is expected with any major rebranding, there is plenty of criticism of the new logo with most comments on the BlogTO article referring to it’s resemblance to a chalk outline (albeit a very colourful one).

The re-brand including a much-needed makeover of the website including the web address itself from to

The site design is bold, modern and airy – a welcome change from the previous version. I am surprised how far the Flight Search is down the page, as there seems to be a lot of space given up to promoting the new brand and upcoming events.

Another glaring point is the absence of a site optimized for mobile, however it is mentioned in the press release the new website well service as a platform for future mobile services.

All in all, a welcome makeover for an important Toronto web property, I’m just not sure about that logo.

Sun Media Launches Bold Redesign of News Websites

Toronto Sun RedesignSun Publications has launched a bold new redesign of their newspaper websites in Toronto, Ottawa, Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary. The sites were launched this week and designed by the UX and Creative team at Qubecor Media owned Nurun.

The default view for the new home page features a large eye-catching photo in the top banner. The top news stories are presented in a vertical mosaic of photos that are easy to scan as you scroll. Each image features a link to a ‘Quick View’ option of the story showing a picture, headline and a few paragraphs of the story in a popup view that can be closed without leaving the home page underneath. The number of comments made on a story is also viewable on the image, as is the link to go to the full story.

The home page can actually be viewed in two ways, as the mosaic view or as a list featuring a headline and thumbnail. The list view can be further filtered by news section.

The photo mosaic design is repeated on the home pages of each news section with the subsections presented in well separated groupings of featured stories.

The main navigation features a large dropdown of secondary navigation areas as well as hot topics, featured and latest stories. This combined with the mosaic view allows the majority of top news stories across all news sections to be a single click away.

I find the site very easy to navigate, and the ability to visually scan the top stories is the great product of the redesign.

What are your thoughts on the redesign?

PodCamp Toronto 2011: Tips and Recommendations

A scene from Podcamp 2010, photo by EvaBlue

A scene from Podcamp 2010, photo by EvaBlue

With over 1400 digital media professionals and enthusiasts registered for PodCamp Toronto 2011, things are going to be busy at the Rogers Communications Centre at Ryerson this weekend (that’s at the north-east corner of Gould & Church Streets for the non-downtown folk).

Weather and Traffic, Oh My!

According to the weather forecast we’re going to get a few centimeters of accumulation throughout the day. That means that the going may be slow on the highway coming in, so leave some extra time if you’re coming in from out of town.

If you were coming downtown (or up) on the Yonge-University TTC line, note that the subway is conveniently closed between Bloor and Union on both Saturday and Sunday. They will have shuttle buses running, but those will be slow and crowded. Make alternate plans and give yourself extra time.

My Podcamp TO Tips

  • Arrive early and get registered, the tables open at 8:30
  • Plan your day in advance using the session schedule posted at the PodCamp Toronto site.
  • Know the official hashtag, it’s #pcto2011 .
  • Why not leave the laptop at home? Unless you’re presenting, or you really do have to catch up on work during breaks it’s going to be a pain and I really don’t need to see you playing Solitaire during a session.
  • Don’t be offended if your Twitter of Facebook friends don’t recognize you right away. Your postage stamp sized profile picture may not do you justice at all.
  • Do write your twitter name in large letters on your badge. Add flare or glitter is you have it.
  • Don’t hesitate to introduce yourself to your Twitter and Facebook friends in person. Capture the moment with an awkward photo.
  • Make your lunch plans in advance – nothing sucks more than spending two thirds of your lunch break standing in line. Also, friends don’t let friends eat alone.
  • Don’t talk through the sessions. If you are not getting something out of the session you are in, use the ‘Law of Two Feet’, leave and find something else that interests you.
  • Don’t complain that there are no sessions suited to your interests. Create a session, find some folks and start a discussion.
  • Make sure you thank your hard-working Podcamp Toronto organizers in person, this is what they look like.

What are your tips for a fun, stress-free Podcamp?

Sessions I Will Try to Attend

These are the sessions throughout Saturday that interest me the most.

First choice: Agency Panel: How the rise of social media changed their disciplines
Second choice: Empowering Social Support Communities

First choice: “I’m Famous on the Internet” : How to Turn a Stupid Idea Into 15 Minutes of Fame
Second choice: Crowdsourcing Tech for Social Good & Crisis Response

First choice: The Importance of Core Messaging
Second choice: The Internet is Not Made of Hugs

First choice: Psychology of Websites and Social Media Campaigns
Second Choice: Community Management or Complaints Department

First choice: Copyright, Trademarks & Social Media
Second Choice: Design for Evil

First choice: Redefining our Relationship with Government: Are Gov 2.0 & Open Data Stalling
Second Choice: What Price Integrity?

First choice: Social Media Trends for Business in 2011

What sessions are you looking forward to?

Photo by EvaBlue