Unusual tourism ads sparking debate in T.O.
With a touch of humour and some irreverence, new Toronto tourism advertisements are targeting the U.S. market with an unusual picture of the city. But the ads are provoking mixed reaction in the city they hope to promote.
City councillor Michael Thompson pulled no punches when he saw the new ads.
"It's purely garbage," was Thompson's simple assessment.
The ads compare Toronto with other world-class cities, trying to show it as an alternative.
One says, "Toronto, nothing like Hollywood" and depicts a woman asking a man "Do you think I need a breast reduction?"
Another shows a woman wearing a 1970s-vintage orange polyester jumpsuit and holding a feather duster. Leaning against a bed she says to a man, "Tonight I'm not Susan. Call me Antoinette."
The caption: "Toronto. Nothing like Paris, except for the art."
Thompson said these are the wrong messages to send south of the border.
"We send a lot of trash to Michigan, and that's not the only thing, unfortunately, that we're sending. This is, in my view, it's trash."
Toronto's Live with Culture promotion program is where the off-beat campaign started. With a little money left over in the budget, program manager Gregory Nixon decided to find a new approach to attracting American tourists.
"We're trying to do something a little different, we're trying to play around, we're trying to be playful," Nixon said.
The ads are destined for alternative weekly newspapers in eight U.S. border cities. Readers in Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Ithaca, Detroit, Cleveland, Chicago and Pittsburgh will see them.
Nixon hopes they will break perceptions that Toronto is a bland, uninteresting city.
"We're about art. We're about making culture and cultural ideas and trying to get other people around the world interested in them," Nixon said.
"So if we've managed to provoke some kind of a debate about how Toronto wants to represent itself to the rest of the world, well then I saw we've achieved our goals."
Thompson is not convinced and said he wants the ads pulled immediately.
With a report from CTV's Desmond Brown