Sunday, June 26, 2005

From "Here's T.O my city" to "Toronto Unlimited"

The Toronto Branding Project unveiled its brand identity for the city yesterday: Toronto Unlimited. The brand is intended to "celebrate the infinite potential of the people and the endless opportunities they offer the city." Tourism Toronto will be a main part of the campaign, acting under a sub-campaign called "Toronto Stories". Here's where it becomes interesting, earlier this year i was involved in a joint program at my college OCAD with the Rotman college of management. In that program we advertising and business students were assigned a real life client (in our case the city of Toronto). In that program the idea of "Stories" is the exact idea we came up with back then for the city of Toronto. Part of participating in the program is that we had to sign over complete creative control to the city, its obvious of course they used our idea with some tweaking here and there....But in general after seeing the Toronto Unlimited campaign I think our team has mixed feelings about it. First of all were really proud an honoured to have contributed to re-branding the city, but we ask ourselves will we get any official credit for our work? Anyways, I'd like to share with you the story of what i went through in this joint program. I felt it was extremely beneficial for my future career in advertising.

The first day of the OCAD/Rotman joint project, I had no idea what was in store for me. I had spoken to students from OCAD who were the “proto-types” you may say and all I got from them is mixed reviews of intensity, dedication and surprises to come. That of course all drifted away from my head like a set of clouds after attending the initial meeting. Our client was the City of Toronto for God’s Sake! Sitting there after the meeting with the representative of the city of Toronto (Carl) and the Mentors assigned to us from GWP Brand engineering (Bruce and Philippe) I had the hugest grin on my face. Mixed feelings of joy, anticipation, anxiousness and thrill overwhelmed my already overpopulated head full of thoughts.

Overcoming our initial truckload of feelings, our group FireIce set up an initial internal meeting in hopes of breaking the Ice (No pun intended!). It was a nice group of people from different ethnicities which I thought was perfect considering the client we had to deal with. James was on top of everything in a very organized fashion with a bunch of sheets he organized for us (the color mood charts, contact sheets ... etc) So from day one we had an excellent start with a website to our name and our entire group of eight being constantly in touch. Nothing could stand in our way now; well at least we thought so. That was all shattered when we first met with Carl at City Hall. I had realized at that point the huge task in front of us was not a towering giant, but a towering family of giants. Carl had so many objectives in mind and we didn’t think he was sure on what he wanted to accomplish exactly. His colleagues at City Hall also had different points of view. Welcome to the Era of confusion. After that meeting everybody had left in small groups of two by themselves... I thought that was really symbolic to how confused we were at that point. A couple internal meetings later we decided that the best way to overcome this sense of confusion is by digging further and further. We met our professor Peter Oliver half way through and he gave us a nice insight, that not all the time the Client is on target in terms of his/her objective. That insight really helped us overcome a lot of our issues and lead us back to the main road. Two weeks of Research later and after overhauling our creative strategy five times, we reached a consensus with Carl in terms of what his real objective is. Carl was really an open-minded client which I think has helped us progress unlike the other groups smoothly in defining and refining our strategy.

So we had our creative strategy down and nailed, that was the easy part. We had a tight strategy and by tight I mean it was hands down amazing, but at the same time it was too tight to fit any of our emerging ideas through to the other side (success). Were those ever rough times and long hours, coming up with creative ideas to fit with our strategy was an extremely hard task. Every now and then we would reach a peek point in which we thought would be the solution to our creative, only to come tumbling back down grasping to a previous idea. Yeah those were indeed tough times.

Our savior was located at 96 Spadina Avenue. The mentors that were assigned to us (GWP) really were the breaking point in terms of refining our creative. We had a total of three meetings with them. Every time we’d enter the bright red halls of GWP the amount of helplessness on our faces was extremely visible, yet magically when we exit we feel like we are the kings of the world. The last meeting with Philippe was the crucial meeting that literally brought our collective ideas together in an amazing fashion that spelled out one word … (success). We worked on the creative from then day and night staying late hours at the lab at school making everything look professional. We didn’t want to be like the other groups we definitely felt the spirit of competitiveness running through our veins. We wanted to stand out.

Final presentation day, we delivered and more. It was a huge success … the client loved our creative and we were literally over the top.

You can view a video of our presentation here:

OCAD/Rotman Video (15megs)

Read more about it and also see the creative here:

All in all, they did distort our intial idea a bit. In the end though i'm extremely proud to have helped in re-branding the city in one way or another. Now will I officially get credit for it?

Here is an Article from AdNews on the topic: The project to formulate a brand strategy for Toronto was undertaken 13 months ago by Tourism Toronto, the City of Toronto, the Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation and the Toronto City Summit Alliance. The $4 million project included local and international focus groups, surveys and interviews intended to gauge the ways in which Toronto is viewed by residents and visitors. The resulting brand strategy was developed by Brand Architecture International and TBWA of Toronto. The branding materials include an overall Toronto Unlimited logo, which consists of a stylized letter "T" that forms a circle with itself, plus five icons in the same style representing music, food, film, festivals and the arts. All the stakeholders involved in the project will use the new brand in their marketing, communications and product development.

Tourism Toronto will be the first organization to do so. The organization has prepared a new campaign called "Toronto Stories" that will consist of print ads in the travel sections of the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and Time Out New York. The creative features well-known individuals with a connection to Toronto. The ads present collages of images along with hand-written notes in which these people describe what the city means to them. The first ads feature architect Frank Gehry and musician Paul Shaffer. These ads will run from June 26 to Aug. 7. The campaign will also make use of branded calendars of events labeled "July Unlimited" and "August Unlimited." These will run concurrently in markets along the Canada-US border, as well as opposite the "Toronto Stories" ads in larger markets. Supporting transit shelter ads will also run in New York, Chicago and Washington from mid-July to mid-August. "Our Toronto Stories campaign evolved directly from the new brand platform, and evokes the unique combination of people, places and things that make up the Greater Toronto Area," said Bruce MacMillan, president of Toronto Tourism. "Taken together, the summer campaign ads leverage the new Toronto Unlimited brand by telling our story in a cohesive, strategic and powerful way. They serve to reinforce the message that Toronto is an intimate metropolis, a cultural capital and city of imagination.


Blogger inner equity said...

Im not sure if I'd even want credit for the project after what they've done to it. Sure it was hard work, but it was most effective as an exclusively T.O. campaign with simple design. Why does throwing some celebritys into a campaign always sound brillant?

lol heema--the coffee stain and pen sitting to the side giving the ad an "authentic" feel. Maybe a magnifyne glass and a bottle of brandy...

12:58 PM  
Blogger heemaz said...

bleh, don't ask about the whole celebrity thing. It feels as if were trying to say to the "states" mostly .. look at what some people whom " you may know " say about us ... yeah i really want to know what jim carry has to say about walking down spadina.

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Tina Coulhon said...

fyi, there's a blog about this whole mess...

6:15 PM  
Blogger heemaz said...

Thanx, that was helpful .. i'm frustrated about the whole us not taking credit for this thing.

10:20 PM  
Anonymous Dario Meli said...

Somebody on the blog made the 'Water Utility' comment and i agree whole heartedly.

Toronto is an extremely dynamic city but this identity only relies on the use of the word 'unlimited' to communicate this. the logo says nothing of the sort.

those are my 2 cents.


12:40 AM  

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