Video Board a standout

Torontonians have long insisted that their hometown is, to use the phrase popular back in the 1980s, 'a world-class city.' And now that citizens have the pleasure of watching automotive ads and Ally McBeal promos on the country's largest outdoor video...

Torontonians have long insisted that their hometown is, to use the phrase popular back in the 1980s, ‘a world-class city.’ And now that citizens have the pleasure of watching automotive ads and Ally McBeal promos on the country’s largest outdoor video board…well, who could dispute the claim?

The board, which measures more than 16 feet wide and more than 21 feet high, was installed by Pattison Outdoor at the southeast corner of Toronto’s Bloor and Yonge Streets in December. Advertisers CTV and DaimlerChrysler Canada have signed a five-year deal with Pattison for ownership of this high-profile facing.

Pattison has maintained a superboard at this location – arguably one of the country’s busiest intersections – for some time. But the company felt a large-scale LED display would stand out even more dramatically.

‘It’s one of our premium locations,’ says Lucinda Hamilton, the Pattison account executive responsible for handling the deal. ‘We wanted to do something different.’

This isn’t the first video board in Toronto, but it is the first in the downtown core. Tribar Industries operates a board near the city’s Gardiner Expressway – but that’s a very cluttered location by comparison, Hamilton says. (Pattison also plans to install another board on Yonge Street, somewhere between St. Clair Avenue and Highway 401, in the near future.)

DaimlerChrysler, which was the former occupant of the Bloor-Yonge superboard, negotiated the five-year deal with Pattison through its media planning and buying agency, Pentacom/OMD.

The automaker asked CTV to come on board as a partner because of the latter’s broadcast expertise. CTV currently receives half of the airtime on the board, and picks up half of the tab. (There is talk of bringing in other advertising partners as well, but no decisions have yet been made.)

While the terms of the deal haven’t been disclosed, Hamilton says it includes first right of refusal on the board at the end of the five-year period, as well as first right of refusal on any other video boards that Pattison installs elsewhere.

Mark Wyeth, media planning manager with Pentacom/OMD, says DaimlerChrysler likes the Bloor-Yonge location because it has plenty of traffic, but isn’t as visually cluttered as many of Toronto’s other major intersections.

As an outdoor advertising vehicle, Wyeth says, video offers many advantages over traditional static billboards. ‘The technology’s more intrusive. It’s not unlike television – and television has always been known as an intrusive medium. Basically, we’re bringing the advantages of television to the outdoor arena.’

Since a video board can accommodate any number of different messages, it allows DaimlerChrysler to promote all of its nameplates in the course of a single day, he says. Content can also be changed quickly and cheaply, making the medium much more flexible than traditional outdoor.

Over the holiday season, for example, the automaker was able to plug in promotional spots for a boxing week special. To do the same in billboards, the company would have had to execute a four-week buy, much further in advance.

CTV, for its part, views the board as something of an opportunity to experiment. In addition to running promotional spots, the network may also use the medium to broadcast other forms of programming.

‘The possibility is there to stream live video, much the way NBC does on Times Square in New York,’ says Rick Lewchuk, CTV’s vice-president, program planning and promotion.

While the board’s lack of audio capability does restrict the possibilities, Lewchuk says there are certain types of programming that might work well in the medium, such as election coverage or the game show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. (The programming would play on the board at the same time it goes to air on the network.)

It’s probably a while before CTV will pursue this possibility in any sort of ambitious way, Lewchuk says. But there are plans to make some form of test run in the near future – possibly the broadcast of an NHL or NBA game.

Also in this report:

- Let the good times roll: Demand is up, credibility is no longer an issue and turnaround is faster than ever. So why doesn’t outdoor garner a greater share of the advertising pie? p.21

- Billy Bee boards create a buzz p.23

In Brief: The Garden picks CDs to take on daily creative leadership

Plus, Naked names two new leaders of its own and Digital Ethos comes to Canada.

The Garden promotes two creative directors

ACDs Lindsay Eady and Francheska Galloway-Davis have taken over responsibility for day-to-day creative leadership at The Garden after being promoted to creative director roles.

The pair will also help develop the agency’s creative talent, formalizing mentorship and leadership activities they have been doing since joining the agency four and three years ago, respectively. In addition to creating the agency’s internship program, the pair have worked on campaigns for Coinsquare, FitTrack and “The Coke Challenge” campaign for DanceSafe.

Eady and Galloway-Davis will continue to report to The Garden’s co-founder and chief creative officer Shane Ogilvie, who is stepping back from daily creative duties to a more high-level strategic role, allowing him to focus on client relationships and business growth.

Naked Creative Consultancy names new creative and strategy leadership

Toronto’s Naked Creative Consultancy has hired Yasmin Sahni as its new creative director. She is taking over creative leadership from David Kenyon, who has been in the role for 10 years and is moving into a new role as director of strategy, leading the discipline at the agency.

Sahni is coming off of three years as VP and ECD at GTB’s Toronto office, where she managed all the retail, social and service creative for Ford Canada. She previously managed both Vice Media and Vice’s in-house ad agency Virtue.

Peter Shier, president of Naked, says Sahni’s hiring adds to its creative bench and capabilities, as well as a track record of mentorship, a priority for the company. Meanwhile, Kenyon’s move to the strategy side, he says, makes sense because of his deep knowledge of its clients, which have included Ancestry and The Globe and Mail.

Digital Ethos opens a Toronto office

U.K. digital agency Digital Ethos is pursuing new growth opportunities in North America by opening a new office in Toronto.

Though it didn’t disclose them, the agency has begun serving a number of North American clients, and CEO/founder Luke Tobin says the “time was right to invest in a more formal and actual presence in the area.” whose services include design, SEO, pay-per-click, social media, influencer and PR,

This year, the agency’s growth has also allowed it to open an office in Hamburg, Germany, though it also has remote staff working in countries around the world.

Moray Hickes was the company’s first North American hire as VP of sales, tasked with business development in the region.