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Who's got the best promotional video for Toronto?

Posted by Derek Flack / December 17, 2010

Promotional videos TorontoIt's always funny to see the way that the American media depicts Toronto in profile videos related to sporting or special events. But, after spending some time looking at homegrown promotional videos, I'm not convinced that the local efforts are a whole lot better. The main agency that one would expect to do at least a decent job of this is Tourism Toronto, but judging by their offerings on YouTube, I get the sense that the people making the videos don't know the city particularly well.

In fact, in most of the official promotional videos for Toronto, one gets the sense that our only calling card is diversity/multiculturalism and the lovely variety of food that goes along with this. While this is no doubt a strength, the degree to which promoters of the city rely on it is annoyingly unimaginative.

Here's a look at five videos about Toronto. The first three are explicitly promotional in nature and produced by Toronto Tourism, the City of Toronto and the Canadian Tourism Commission, while the last two -- which I think are far better -- come courtesy of TEDxTO and an independent filmmaker. To be fair, it's important to note that in the case of the first three, I've picked only one video from a wider selection, so it's not accurate to think that the creators have tried to distill the city into one minute-long bit.

Toronto Tourism

The production quality is decent, but the concept is completely unoriginal. Take some saturated video during Caribana and the World Cup to demonstrate just how diverse this city is. Not terrible, but not particularly inspiring either.

The City of Toronto

Not necessarily made only for tourists, the clip above is part of a larger series called Tap into TO, which features bits on Toronto neighbourhoods. I'm not sure that a whole lot of evaluation is necessary here. This is BORING.

Canadian Tourism Commission

The Canadian Tourism Commission actually does a better job than Toronto Tourism in promoting our city. With a lengthy series devoted to various aspects of Toronto (including neighbourhoods, nightlife, landmarks, etc.), the coverage is admirable. They're still a bit cheesy (for lack of a better word), but the production quality is high.


Better than all of the above, the video that opened TEDxTO this year might be a touch overly positive, but that's to expected from this genre. Great shots of the city and mostly original perspectives from the speakers.

T O in 2 4 by Dale Hildebrand

Not really a promotional video at all, this is an overly long trailer for a film about a day in Toronto. I include this here because it's basically like the Toronto version of Baraka: the melodramatic imagery is high, but there are some awesome moments that cast Toronto in spectacular light.

Do you know of a promotional video for Toronto worthy of mention? Let us know in the comments.



Craig / December 17, 2010 at 03:46 pm
I like this one:
Tapcon / December 17, 2010 at 03:48 pm
What the heck is going on at 3:07 in this video?
Tapcon / December 17, 2010 at 03:49 pm
Sorry, I am specifically referring to the last video, TO in 24.
Trin / December 17, 2010 at 04:07 pm
I think this one is a pretty fair assessment of Toronto -- as I see it, at least.
Derek replying to a comment from Tapcon / December 17, 2010 at 04:07 pm
Yeah, that is certainly odd -- it looks like a small plane that's on fire.
T. Mitch Drive / December 17, 2010 at 04:46 pm
I think the video created by Ryerson University's Architecture program for their AIAS FORUM bid coming up in two weeks is a great promotional example of Toronto!!!
Regina / December 17, 2010 at 04:56 pm
I prefer b roll
S / December 17, 2010 at 08:43 pm
I think it's a training thing for the airport firefighters. Making us 'guess' what it is, is not good. Imagine if people from other countries see this. They could of at least shown firemen saving a cat or something that would make you go, awwww.
Sean / December 18, 2010 at 06:28 am
They should have shown the beatings done by the cops during the G20. The world saw that and will never forget. Neither will we...
timeoutofmind / December 18, 2010 at 09:53 am
this one: for canada green building council .... the greenbuild international green building summit will be held in toronto next year ... (the tenth annual) ... called NEXT:

this is the promotional video, about sustainable design in canada and toronto.;fmt=22
obnoxious / December 18, 2010 at 10:26 am
Could anyone else not help but look away at the end of the last video, what the hell..
phili30 / December 19, 2010 at 11:59 am
I still think this is one of the best ads ever created for Toronto...
MichaelM replying to a comment from T. Mitch Drive / December 26, 2010 at 03:17 am
This video produced by Architecture students in Toronto is really a good one. The video starts with digital sketches of Architectural attractions in downtown Toronto. It's pretty amazing.
Paul / October 9, 2012 at 08:16 am
Let's reactive this post to share this video which probably the best of Toronto ever made!
Really amazing.
Other Cities: Montreal