Along Queen West, posters from the campaign launched last Tuesday by War Child Canada to draw attention to child soldiers forced to fight in wars in Sudan, Uganda, Iraq and Sri Lanka have been ripped down.
The ads for Camp Okutta, the fictional camp where parents can send their kids to learn to throw grenades and use an AK-47, were destroyed by outraged passersby.
The campaign includes a video on YouTube depicting a camp infirmary where kids are drugged to suppress homesickness and fear.
Unfazed by the backlash, War Child Canada is preparing this week to bring out its faux camp counsellors to hand out pamphlets around the city.
War Child marketing director James Topham denies the group was out to shock to put its message across.
"We just felt this would be a more effective way of conveying the message, because there's a tendency to think, 'It's terrible, but [it's] happening over there. '"
Consider the message delivered. But is War Child helping or hurting its cause?
Queen's University marketing prof Kenneth Wong says getting noticed is not enough.
"Anyone can get noticed by doing the outrageous -- consider the Jackass movies. The question is, will the awareness lead to interest? Desire? Action? Now the subjective element becomes very important. If an ad repulses me so that I tune it out or develop a negative impression of the sponsor, it is a bad ad."
Martin Wales , president of customercatcher.com , says there's a risk the whole intent of War Child's campaign may get buried in the controversy.
"There's no sustained PR equity from this. Okay, you have my attention, but it's a confused attention."
David Dunne, professor of marketing at U of T's Rotman School of Management , calls the ads "gutsy" but wonders if the stir they've caused will translate into more donations for War Child.
"It's possible to overdo it, go overboard and turn people off."
But Michael Hepworth of StreetSmart Marketer says advertising that doesn't offend people may end up not being heard. In that sense, War Child's campaign is clever.
"If you don't polarize people you run the risk of being too bland and having no effect. The only reason to advertise is to get people to act."