City of Toronto pulls anti-littering ads

Despite positive praise in the media, some brands didn't like their logos being tossed around in this PSA.

The City of Toronto has pulled anti-littering ads this week as a result of concerns by some famous brands.

The campaign, which kicked off earlier this month, features brand packaging laid out in a manner that spells out negative descriptors such as “lazy” (Lay’s and Crazy Glue), “lowlife” (Sweet and Low and Lifesavers) and “pig” (Reese’s Pieces and Gatorade). The tag line reads “Littering says a lot about you.”

“Concerns were subsequently raised by various companies about the use of their trademarks and the potentially negative effect that this campaign might have on their brands, even though the affected companies have indicated support for the City’s anti-littering initiatives,” said a spokesperson in an email statement. “In light of those concerns, the City chose to discontinue the campaign and will be exploring other anti-littering initiatives.”

The campaign was created by the City’s Live Green initiative. The spokesperson says the City typically works with its AOR Publicis, and these ads would normally appear in print, OOH and online. The campaign picked up new life online after being posted on Reddit and Tumblr, and subsequently picked up by Huffington Post Canada and BlogTO, not to mention garnering international press, which included Fast Company, Gizmodo and Business Insider.

Media reports called it a clever, non-preachy, savvy campaign, while discussion on Reddit about the work has been relatively positive with many talking about the act of littering (ed note: some NSFW content in this link).