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.
Some big name brands have raised a stink with the City of Toronto over some creative cutting and pasting in a new anti-littering campaign.
The city is now pulling the campaign because of trademark infringement concerns. The ads, which launched earlier this month, received attention for their humorous use of some very recognizable product packaging.
The campaign slogan was, "Littering says a lot about you." The ads featured discarded candy boxes, plastic bottles and other packaging arranged to spell the unflattering message that littering conveys.
The combinations included a bag of Lay's potato chips and a Krazy Glue package arranged to spell "Lazy"; Reese's Pieces and a bottle of Gatorade put together to spell "Pig"; Alka-Seltzer and Goldfish crackers saying "Selfish"; and a pack of Sweet'N Low and Lifesavers put together to say "Low Life."
While the companies who called to complain said they supported anti-littering initiatives, they objected to the unauthorized use of their brands, said Jackie DeSouza, director of strategic communications for the city.
"It really had to do with trademark infringement on some of the products," Ms. DeSouza said. "…Concerns were raised by various companies about the use of their trademarks and the potentially damaging effect to their brands."
The ads appeared in print in community newspapers such as Metro and 24 Hours, as well as on public transit shelters and on the backs and sides of Toronto Transit Commission buses and streetcars. They spread online as well.
All of the transit ads have now been pulled.
Ms. DeSouza said she could not disclose which companies complained about the use of their brand marks.
The city did not contact any of the companies to ask for authorization to use their trademarks before the campaign was launched.
The ads were created by agency Publicis, which sometimes works with the city on a contract basis.