Talkin’ trash

Toronto shop Axmith McIntyre Wicht can make garbage look good. But on the streets of Toronto, it looks anything but. The agency's new campaign for the City of Toronto, which breaks Sept. 9, directly targets litter culprits and includes transit shelter ads and OMG ads on garbage bins.
The City of Toronto does annual litter campaigns, says Geoff Rathbone, director of policy and planning for its solid waste division. But with the latest one, they wanted to develop a long-term theme with a broader perspective, rather than changing it yearly.

Toronto shop Axmith McIntyre Wicht can make garbage look good. But on the streets of Toronto, it looks anything but. The agency’s new campaign for the City of Toronto, which breaks Sept. 9, directly targets litter culprits and includes transit shelter ads and OMG ads on garbage bins.

The City of Toronto does annual litter campaigns, says Geoff Rathbone, director of policy and planning for its solid waste division. But with the latest one, they wanted to develop a long-term theme with a broader perspective, rather than changing it yearly.

In an audit, the City of Toronto found that the top throwaway items were fast food, beverages, tobacco products, confectionery and newspapers. Looking at a link between litter and the companies whose packaging may end up on the streets, the city is soliciting industry support, particularly from fast food and tobacco brands. Some of the companies on-board include Pizza Pizza, the Toronto Star and Benson and Hedges.

Possibilities for brand participation include anti-litter messages in stores and on brand packaging. But if the companies are to contribute money, says Rathbone, they want to be sure the project will garner results. Though the city has never measured effectiveness of previous campaigns, Rathbone says they plan to start measuring litter production. After five years, he says, they would be able to gauge ad effectiveness.

Rathbone says the city took inspiration from the state of Texas’ ‘Don’t mess with Texas’ initiative. It began in 1985 and used celebrity spokespeople and other tactics to target litterbugs. Research from the campaign showed that males and females under 24, those that smoked, and those who frequented bars and fast food restaurants were more likely to litter.

Brian Howlett, CD for Axmith, which has had the Toronto account for a year, says they wanted to promote the message of keeping Toronto clean, but they didn’t want to be too preachy or point fingers. Since certain people, particularly youth, are more prone to litter than others, the ads use objects such as a french fries box to target them specifically. Graphically, says Howlett, the ads look cool, so he’s hoping to get young kids’ attention with sharp visuals. ‘We’re no longer Toronto the Clean,’ he says.

Rathbone says they want to make people aware that litter is a problem in Toronto and to reduce the amount of money spent on litter collection. Rathbone says $10 million is spent per year in Toronto, with only 10% directed to removing garbage from bins, and 90% going towards picking it up off the ground.

Credits

Client: City of Toronto

Agency: Axmith McIntyre Wicht

Creative Director/Copywriter: Brian Howlett

Art Director: Ron Smrczek

Photographer: Anthony Cheung

Account Director: Heather Cain

Account Executive: Nicola Fitchett