After our criticism of Toronto’s Web site, and some garbage-scented barbs thrown their way in last week’s Brand Jam, it looks like Tourism Toronto has decided to approach the end of the garbage strike with their tongues firmly in their cheeks and their noses in the air.
The just-announced tag for a late summer advertising campaign – wait for it:
“Toronto never smelled so good.”
Toronto Star article: : When you attract attention for all the wrong reasons, you might as well try to play it for a laugh. That’s the thinking behind a new promotion launched today by Tourism Toronto with the slogan “Toronto never smelled so good.”
Now, to me, this looked like a “fresh” approach to a thorny problem: how to put a positive and even humourous spin on a negative situation. So I gave them the benefit of ther doubt, and whatever the ramifications, I have to admire the guts of the Toronto Tourism folks:
Metro: Slogan smells ‘so good’“We’re going to take the strike head-on, and use it as an opportunity to invite people back,” Weir said. “It’s been top of the newscasts for the last 40 days. The best thing we can do is let them know the experience here is as high-quality and exciting as it’s ever been — and now there’s no garbage piled up.”
– Andrew Weir, vice-president of Tourism Toronto
But in coverage on CBC radio in Ottawa last night, our drive-home host Adrian Harewood talked about the slogan, and spent several minutes of air time chatting with newsman Lawrence Wall about it. The focus of the conversation: Is it true?
Apparently, many Toronto parks and public spaces still smell fairly pungent after being used as dumps. Reaction from some Torontonians has been even more pointed:
24 Hours: Does Toronto smell good to you? Toronto never smelled so good. Really? You sure about that? Pretty certain it stank like rotting landfill on my way in to work yesterday.
Like an old horn-dog perched at a local watering hole ogling young waitresses, the post-strike branding has the distinct smell of desperation, which is as off-putting as bad breath, really.
So while it’s an attention-getting (and brave) approach, the problem with this slogan is not that it isn’t effective: 1) it’s not true; 2) it can be seen as making light of a serious and divisive issue in the city, and 3) raises questions that actually focus more attention on something that tourists don’t want to think about.
Should be interesting to see the reaction as this unfolds.