When Your Street Becomes a Marketing Campaign: How Canadian Tire Turned a Quiet Residential Street into a Centennial Party

In the age of the selfie, inflatables are advertisers’ best friends.

Especially in the summer months, when marketing strategists go out and test the public’s appetite for publicity stunts, helium balloons and flashy props often serve as the backdrop for nearly every pop-up and branding exercise on the internet. the city.

This weekend, Canadian Tire has lined the front lawns of houses in the Danforth neighborhood with huge pink flamingos and unicorns, garden gnomes and dairy cows, as part of an advertising campaign to celebrate the company’s 100th anniversary.

The festivities have drawn families looking for fun and Instagram followers looking for a photo shoot.

It’s a bold approach to marketing — turning a random residential street in Toronto into a mile-long ad for a $10 billion company — but one that reflects an experimental moment in the world of advertising.

“Over the last two years, most of the interactions that companies have had with people have been virtual, so now they want to go out and advertise in the community,” said David Soberman, a professor of marketing at the Rotman School of the University. University of Toronto. Management.

North American businesses spent more than $1.8 billion on outdoor advertising (known in the marketing world as out-of-home, or “OOH”) advertising in the first few months of 2022, a huge increase compared to the first few months of 2021, according to data from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America.

But after years of declining sales and foot traffic, some retailers are also trying to sell consumers on their ties to the community while keeping costs low.

Nearly 50 homeowners on Bastedo Avenue, a quiet street lined with row houses and tall oak trees, have agreed to put floats in their yards for Canadian Tire’s birthday. Since the market is on private property and does not impede traffic, the company did not need a circulation permit to continue with the campaign, a company spokesperson said.

“Campaigns like these are a pretty innovative way to advertise and draw attention to your brand without spending a lot of money,” Soberman said.

The company didn’t say why it chose the Danforth, but Canadian Tire has long appealed to middle-class homeowners who need gardening tools and sports equipment for the kids. For a company deeply embedded in the national psyche, demonstrations of community connection are key to maintaining the brand, especially as it faces increasingly stiff competition from peer retailers, including Walmart and Amazon. The advantage of the company in Canada, according to experts, is the recognition and familiarity of its name.

The retailer’s campaign also raises an interesting question for residents: Can your street be sporadically transformed into a marketing campaign?

In short, the answer is yes, but only if the neighbors agree.

While businesses need permits to install sidewalk signs or host events in public spaces, advertising on residential properties is allowed as long as the owner has given consent, a spokesperson for the city of Toronto said.

Disgruntled community members would likely have to call 311 to file complaints with the city.

The city has statutes that regulate the size and scope of commercial advertising. But, as is often the case, the city has no resources to enforce the law, so any action it takes is driven by registered community complaints.

“There are statutes about how big the advertisement can be, but the benefit of displays like these is that they are very temporary and will probably take a few hours to put up and take down. And the community obviously agrees, so the risk is not high,” Soberman said.


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