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Tony Hird

Let's hope not too many players are shooting wide of the goal. To grab some attention from fans watching the World Cup, Telus Corp. has introduced an ad over urinals in Toronto with a game that players can control with the stream of their urine.

Men taking a pit stop at Toronto-area bars such as Betty's, Fionn MacCool's, and Rasputin Vodka Bar will find a screen above the urinals with a friendly-looking panda playing net in a cartoon soccer game.

Those who choose to play can control the panda's movements with urine, to try to prevent virtual players in the game from scoring. The urinals, which were shipped from a special manufacturer in Europe and installed especially for this campaign, are embedded with sensors to detect the stream.

"We try to be innovative and push the envelope as much as possible," said Mike Leslie, managing director for the Telus business at ad agency Taxi. The agency worked with Zoom Media, which specializes in advertising in locations such as restrooms and change rooms.

Next to the game screen is an ad for Telus that reads, "Don't feel the burn," promoting its price matching for customers who find a device provided by a competitor at a lower cost.

While the campaign is clever, the advertiser may have wanted to consider some separation between anything urine-themed and references to a burning sensation.

Still, the advertising accomplishes something else as well: Telus is not a FIFA sponsor, and so the clever soccer game allows the brand to steal a bit of association with the World Cup without all the marketing dollars that a sponsorship would cost.

Telus tested a similar campaign at one location in Vancouver during the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with a game that featured a ski racer who could be directed to collect tokens on the way down the hill. Telus's competitor, Bell, is a Canadian Olympic Committee sponsor.

The campaign comes at the same time that Taxi is vying to keep the Telus account; earlier this year the telecommunications company put its advertising business up for review. Taxi has worked with Telus since 2000, and is among those pitching for the business.

Asked if the urinal soccer game runs the risk of becoming messy, Mr. Leslie said "ideally not." He added that the company has received positive feedback from both customers and owners of the establishments.

"We want to have fun with the brand and entertain people," he said.

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