The deadline for the My Toronto video contest is only a month away. If you think you can sum up our town better than the ad agencies paid big bucks for promo ideas, you may want to take some cues on how not to do it from this year's Live With Culture campaign. Here's what marketing spinmeisters have to say about the city's ads in newspapers from Hollywood to Paris.
"Do you think I need a breast reduction?"
"Contrary to popular belief, humour is not a very effective tool in advertising, because people often remember the humour, not what you're advertising. The messaging is, in my opinion, too subtle. These ads do nothing to make you notice or remember them. There is no call to action. A lot of larger agencies create advertising in the hope of winning awards for creativity rather than for the amount of business they generate. They then show their customers and prospects how many awards they have won, suggesting that is some kind of measure. The only measure for advertising is how many people act."
Michael Hepworth, president, StreetSmart Marketer
"This is not necessarily a way we should be portraying ourselves. We should focus more on the landmarks and social aspects of coming to the city. Front Street, for example, has all the different restaurants. Summertime has all the different festivals. Caribana is a prime example. [The Paris ad] is cheap. You're trying to attract a younger crowd to visit the city. It doesn't come off as being a sexy city by any means."
"No thanks. I'm married."
Rachel Thompson, director of marketing, Manulife Financial
"When you say Toronto is like Hollywood, that's not true. We have films and film festivals, but we can't say our film industry is better. You're trying to use a selling point at which you're worse. You shouldn't highlight a feature at which you're not the best. If you want to promote yourself, you should focus on what differentiates you from the others. You can say the city is multicultural - you want to communicate something that's positive, not sarcastic. The same applies to the Rome ad. Think of a singer from Italy and you have Luciano Pavarotti. Can you name one from Toronto? We're lying. You shouldn't lie in an ad."
"To be fair, honey. He was here first."
Sergio Meza, assistant professor of marketing, Rotman School of Management, U of T