CFRB wants to talk

Toronto's CFRB 1010 Radio, a property of Montreal-based Astral Media, is trying to raise its profile and get people talking by posing provocative questions around the city via the use of some unusual media placements.

Toronto’s CFRB 1010 Radio, a property of Montreal-based Astral Media, is trying to raise its profile and get people talking by posing provocative questions around the city via the use of some unusual media placements.

One execution is a sign asking, ‘Should panhandling be illegal?’ that was placed either behind panhandlers or in some cases even in their hands. (CFRB paid the panhandlers for their participation.) The campaign also includes chalk outlines around Toronto’s crime-ridden club district asking, ‘Is crime out of control?’ and wild postings on graffitied walls questioning whether it’s art or vandalism. The tagline is ‘We need to talk.’

‘The media placement is just as important as the creative itself – it’s a micro-media placement to make CFRB relevant,’ says Martin Beauvais, ECD at Toronto-based Zig. ‘It’s a debate. It’s provocative in terms of trying to

get people involved.’

The campaign’s target is broad; Beauvais describes it as ‘anyone who listens to the radio.’ It aims to remind people that CFRB covers what matters to Torontonians in a highly relevant way.

We asked Craig Redmond, VP/CD at Vancouver-based Concerto Marketing, and Ryan Archibald, Toronto-based associate publisher of the always-controversial Vice magazine, to weigh in on whether this campaign will get people talking and – more importantly – listening.

Concept

Redmond: ‘We Need To Talk’ is a powerfully simple summation of what news talk radio is all about – an absolutely essential public forum for lively debate on controversial current affairs. It conjures the urgency and volatility you would expect from a news talk brand.

Archibald: Decent concept, suits the brand, though the topics are completely unoriginal, old and boring, which is bad for the brand. 

‘Provocative’ strategy

Redmond: Courting controversy should be CFRB’s only move. Unfortunately, the questions provoke nothing more than a shoulder shrug when they should be stoking a polarizing ire that compels me to pick up a phone and scream my opinion.

Archibald: Can be a smart move if done properly. However, I don’t believe these are controversial, rather conversation starters. If they were meant to be controversial, they are way off the mark.

Creative execution

Redmond: One wonders if ‘We Need To Talk’ would have sufficed without spoon-feeding the audience with garishly highlighted statements of the obvious. The simplicity of the call to action gets bludgeoned by heavy-handed art direction.

Archibald: A few caught my eye at first, but perhaps only as someone who works with and is interested in advertising. Engaging, no. ‘Art or Vandalism?’ Really? Still on this graffiti topic from the late ’80s? Borrrrrrinnnng. I didn’t even know what radio station they were for until I got this request to discuss them.

Use of media

Redmond: With the exception of the panhandler, every guerrilla execution feels artificially staged. Forgive my skepticism, but a CFRB guerrilla posting nestled fortuitously next to a guerrilla chalk ad for an industry darling book store and leveraging a famous guerrilla campaign for Vespa feels a bit apish to me. A wonderful agency idea seems to have lost its way in the streets.

Archibald: This is where they get the most credit. Postings on bikes, panhandlers and chalk outlines caught my eye. This is the only creative aspect of the campaign. Not a new idea, but using these mediums to back the message is what ties the whole campaign together. Too bad crime is never in control and everyone knows cyclists are to obey traffic laws. End of discussion.

Credits

CFRB

Rob Braide, VP; Rebecca Shropshire, director of branding & communications

Astral Media Outdoor

Nicola Petrie, account manager; Judy Boudreau, production & media creativity manager

Zig

Martin Beauvais, ECD; Andrew Cloutier, design director; Andrew Bradley, Neil Blewett, writers; Yasmin Sahni, Scott Park, ADs; Lynn Sivec, strategic planner; Sheri Hachey, team leader