Two white, featureless, four-storey-tall doll-like figures – one male, one female – appeared at opposite ends of Toronto last summer. Luckily, they weren’t the hell-spawn of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man stopping by Canada’s largest city to unleash a bloody campaign of destruction and chaos. No, they were simply part of a promotional effort connecting cellular provider Fido with young, urban hipsters through a series of underground artsy parties called Fido Sessions.

Over eight days, the dolls slowly came closer together, and when they finally met, it wasn’t to wreak havoc, but to mark the spot of an art-themed Sessions event featuring exhibits by well-known artists and a performance by Vancouver-based dance-punk band You Say Party! We Say Die! The monstrous, unbranded executions, dubbed the ‘Fidolls,’ provided the visual identity for the Sessions events, developed with Toronto- and L.A.-based District Lifestyle Marketing, revolving around art, culture, design and fashion to pollinate the Fido brand in downtown Toronto hipster hotspots.

‘It was important that these Fidolls were unbranded – a text shortcode being the only type on them – not just for intrigue, but to avoid any obtrusive corporate stigma,’ says Chad Borlase, co-CD at Bos Toronto, which developed the promotional campaign.

To create buzz, a guerilla army of miniature Fidolls appeared in Toronto’s trendy Queen West neighbourhood. Starting with a three-week teaser campaign leading up to the first event, they were deployed as street wash, wild postings, chalk art, night projections, tree hangers and even Flogos (flying cloud logos) in the sky, a first in Canada. Like their big brother and sister, the minis were unbranded save for the shortcode, which passersby could text to receive info on the Sessions. Branding was also subtle at the events, for example, party guests could use Fido handsets to order beverages at the bar.

‘We wanted to gain people’s hearts first and then let them know that it’s Fido backing it up,’ explains Sebastien Moïse, Fido’s Toronto-based marketing manager.

The promo was a success, garnering media coverage in Canada and the U.S. Over 500 people texted in, more than 1,000 people attended the final Sessions party and, luckily enough, nobody had to call the Ghostbusters. Awesome.


These days cell phones can pretty much do anything – give you directions, provide weather forecasts, facilitate credit card transactions, shake babies, the list goes on. Okay, well maybe they can’t cook breakfast, give you a hug or help you to enslave the world, but they can still do a helluva lot, some of which seems too good to be true. And sometimes it is. If you’ve frequented bars in western Canada recently and seen poster, coaster and tent card ads promoting a cell phone breathalyzer service at 1-877-EZ-ALCO-TEST, that’s one of them.

While some people dance on tables, or believe that they’re karaoke stars, others are prone to becoming a bit more gullible after a few drinks. That was Vancouver-based Rethink’s bet when they developed the breathalyzer campaign for Keys Please, a Calgary-based designated driver service operating in B.C., Alberta and Manitoba.

‘At one point we actually said, ‘what if we just gave everyone a breathalyzer test?’ That wasn’t in the budget, so we did the next best thing: we faked it,’ explains Jason Perdue, writer at Rethink.

The ongoing campaign, which launched in September, is spread throughout 300 bars. It aims to get barflies to consider how much they’ve had to drink and tricks them into calling the toll-free number, which promises that its electronic airflow conversion technology will use the cellular devices’ microphone chip to convert breath samples into an accurate measurement of blood alcohol content.

‘In this time of so many new technologies, a service like this seems like it could be real, especially after a few drinks,’ notes Nicolas Quintal, AD at Rethink.

Callers are answered by a recorded voice instructing them to blow into their phone for five seconds. The voice then delivers the punchline: ‘If you actually believe this works, you’re probably drunk out of your mind and may require a designated driver; stay on the line to be connected to Keys Please.’

To quote The Simpsons‘ Nelson Muntz, we say, ‘ha ha.’

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