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Naughty or nice? Ad agency has mind made up on Rob Ford

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford arrives for a news conference at City Hall in Toronto on Tuesday December 10 2013. Ford says he stands by "every word" he said during a televised interview in which he appeared to accuse a reporter of being a pedophile.

Chris Young/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Persuasion Notebook offers quick hits on the business of persuasion from The Globe and Mail's marketing and advertising reporter, Susan Krashinsky. Read more on The Globe's marketing page and follow Susan on Twitter @Susinsky.

Be good, for goodness sake.

It's a holiday message that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford may want to take to heart. If the year that just passed did not land the esteemed mayor on Santa's naughty list, it's difficult to imagine what would.

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A Toronto advertising agency is taking advantage of the mayor's antics (as others have also done) to nab a bit of the spotlight, and to highlight its holiday charity campaign. The agency, Bob's Your Uncle, has launched the website "Coal for Ford," and has pledged to deliver a pile of coal to City Hall on Dec. 20. "Santa and a few elves" will be present for the delivery.

For every click on a button on the website to add a piece of coal to the pile, the agency also pledged to donate a dollar to a Christmas toy drive, up to a maximum of $5,000. They have quickly passed that goal.

According to the website's counter, on Wednesday afternoon visitors had added more than 600,000 pieces of coal to the pile. This could make the logistics of actually delivering the coal somewhat tricky -- but according to agency CEO Robert Froese, the actual coal drop will be a symbolic gesture, so it is likely the firm is not hunting down half a million pieces of fossil fuel.

"We sourced a quantity of real old-fashioned coal for the delivery that is now waiting in our office," Mr. Froese said. "We did not project the level of response we've received and we are looking at ways to increase the size of our actual coal drop. But at minimum, it will be designed as a very visible gesture."

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