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Toronto’s unique anti-littering ads pulled over brand reputation concerns

Just as Toronto’s newest anti-littering ad campaign was catching on, threats of copyright violations crushed it like a cigarette under foot.



Just as Toronto’s newest anti-littering ad campaign was catching on, threats of copyright violations crushed it like a cigarette under foot.

The unique campaign featured products from popular snack and drink companies, artfully littered to spell out angry messages to litterers. For instance, one image shows a discarded Sweet’N Low package with a discarded Lifesavers package to spell out ‘Low Life’ between the two products. The tagline: “Littering says a lot about you.”

The problem is that advertising agency Publicis Canada never obtained permission to use the products from the likes of Red Bull, Du Maurier, Lays, Gatorade and more.

The images appeared in print publications, transit shelters and the exterior of TTC vehicles.

Legal arguments suggest that the use of the corporate logos could pose harmful to the companies’ reputations.

Check out some more of the ads from the campaign here.


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4 Comments » for Toronto’s unique anti-littering ads pulled over brand reputation concerns
  1. Greg Jackson says:

    I think that the creative for this ad campaign is brilliant! I highly doubt that any of the brands involved would object to their brand identities being used to discourage littering of public places. On the contrary, I believe that more consumers would object to them bringing legal action against the City of Toronto or their ad agency, for using their brands in an indirect way, to discourage littering. I think that even the mean intellect has the capacity to understand that the message is from the City of Toronto and not from the manufacturers of the products whose packaging was used. Then again, we are talking about lawyers…

  2. pablo5 says:

    Surely someone must have thought of running the ads by the legal department since the trade marks are easily identified in the ads. Probably that wise person was dismissed for not being a “team player” and for having a “negative attitude”.

  3. Arjun Krishnan says:

    I agree with @Greg Jackson’s comments. I dont think the City should have pulled out of it. Even still, it got us thinking when we saw it on the bus. A very creative ad.

  4. Sheila White says:

    Read my take on Toronto’s anti-littering ads as Canada’s consultant and researcher on littering behaviours and remedies. Editorial on Page 2 of the Sunday digest, This Week In “Litterland”. Daily news is on our website, dedicated to lowering the overall rate of littering.
    http://www.litterpreventionprogram.com/uploads/1/3/0/3/13036366/litterland_2.029.pdf

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