Taxi fakes ads for book lovers and ad haters

Open Book: Toronto, an organization that connects Torontonians with their local literary scene, recently revamped its website and commissioned Taxi Toronto to raise awareness about it.

Open Book: Toronto, an organization that connects Torontonians with their local literary scene, recently revamped its website and commissioned Taxi Toronto to raise awareness about it.

The target was people who love books but aren’t necessarily receptive to traditional advertising.

‘We knew we were trying to connect with a group that doesn’t want to be marketed to,’ says Amy Logan Holmes, executive director of Open Book: Toronto.

The idea was to avoid the obvious ad approach and instead redirect folks from whatever they were looking at – ads, bathroom graffiti – and get them thinking about what else they could be reading. To plant that seed, stickers that read, ‘Is this the only local [insert literary genre here] you’re reading? Openbooktoronto.com‘ were affixed to various traditional and non-traditional media. In a first for the agency, Taxi handled and bought media for the campaign. ‘The beauty of this campaign is that the city became our canvas,’ says creative director Rose Sauquillo. ‘Every printed word had the opportunity to become a headline.’

For the media executions, Taxi created mock print, online and OOH ads for fake businesses. The ads appear real at first glance, but a sticker tips readers off, urging them to check out Openbooktoronto.com, while URLs for fabricated businesses like The Mating Place redirect them to the site. Fake classifieds, also affixed with stickers, were placed in NOW magazine, and fake neighbourhood postings about missing cats, etc., were stickered with ‘Is this the only local mystery you’re reading?’

Taxi also got permission to ‘vandalize’ some pre-existing public reading material, such as the bathroom walls of pubs and hang-outs, by adding the message: ‘Is this the only local poetry you’re reading?’

The four-week-long, $50,000 effort launched in October, and saw total user sessions for the site go up 180% in the first month, with total media impressions estimated at over nine million.