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Batman ad creep is a bit of a bummer

Posted by Chris Bateman / July 3, 2012

batman ad creepWithout realizing it, you might have taken Bruce Wayne Manor or Gotham City Boulevard to work today thanks to some strategic marketing work by Warner Bros. Canada. Two official-looking Batman branded street signs appeared last week at two downtown intersections, renaming (or perhaps subtitling) King and York streets in honour of the caped crusader ahead of the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the latest movie in the lucrative franchise.

Warner Bros. confirmed it received permission to install the signs on King and Front streets — something it did before for the final Harry Potter movie — as part of the promotional work for its summer blockbuster. Fans of the movie are supposed to send photographs of the signs to a local radio station in the hopes of winning tickets to an advanced screening and promotional masquerade ball.

The signs are set to come down on July 20, but in the meantime is this really appropriate use of public space? There's enough ad creep in the city as it is, what with the new info pillars giving over substantial space to advertisers, streetcars wrapped in full banners, and the hideous idea of selling sponsorship rights to subway stations that surfaced last year.

Batman ad creepIt's also worth noting that these signs were manufactured and installed — for a fee — by the City of Toronto. Even though Warner Bros. were invoiced for the full amount, is this a service we should be offering to anyone with enough cash? The precedence this sets, — at least in theory — is that companies with big enough budgets have the city's blessing to brand our streets in accordance with whatever product they're selling.

So, at the risk of sounding completely joyless over a couple of crafty signs for a movie that I'm actually quite excited about, I wonder if we should be rethinking the type of ads we allow in Toronto? A few years back, the citizens of Sao Paulo, Brazil deep-sixed almost all outdoor advertising on their city's streets. It's obviously unrealistic to suggest we do the same — we pocket cash from the billboard tax after all — but maybe we should stop short of co-opting our street signs for marketing purposes?

Discussion

57 Comments

mike1234 / July 3, 2012 at 03:53 pm
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Who cares!? It is something fun, and it isn't bothering anyone, making anyone's life more difficult, or being intrusive in any way shape or form. So many ppl will walk by without noticing it. Quit your whining
Warren / July 3, 2012 at 03:58 pm
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You took the risk, and you lost, you completely joyless whiner.
nick d / July 3, 2012 at 03:59 pm
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if there were no ads, how would I know what products to consume?
jerk replying to a comment from mike1234 / July 3, 2012 at 04:00 pm
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This cost the taxpayers money, as it was stated that the city manufactured and installed it; "whining" is justified.
fred / July 3, 2012 at 04:03 pm
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I think the real issue here - which the writer points out - isn't these ads, but the precedence this type of thing sets. It may sound silly, but street signs should be sacred. And besides, there's nothing about Toronto that's Gotham-like anyway.
James / July 3, 2012 at 04:05 pm
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Uuuuh... isn't that first ppicture King and Yonge?

Greg replying to a comment from James / July 3, 2012 at 04:13 pm
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Uuuuh, yeah. One "renames" King and the other one is on York.
McRib / July 3, 2012 at 04:15 pm
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isnt anybody sick of batman yet?
Baller / July 3, 2012 at 04:19 pm
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I'm just disappointed in the street names... WTF is Bruce Wayne Manor? It's Wayne Manor. Who names a street after a dude's house... And Gotham City Blvd? This is the best creative minds can do? Ugh... Maybe an actual street name from the movie? Frankly, KABLAMMO! Street and PHWAP! Blvd. would've been miles better.
Augusto / July 3, 2012 at 04:20 pm
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Just a comment from someone that used to live in Sao Paulo: the billboard ban there was mostly related to the inability of the municipal government to control the ads, due to overly complex regulation and pervasive corruption (very easy to bribe their employees to ignore irregular ads). So, the simplest (and only efficient) solution was to ban everything.
paul / July 3, 2012 at 04:20 pm
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I think the city should commission a study on the effects of renaming street signs and then hold an all night emergency council session to vote on it.

Who cares. They city made some money. If they paid for the workers to print/install it, the city made some cash off of it. I'm all for the branding of the city if it lowers my taxes or keeps some city parks and pools open.
Other Jerk replying to a comment from jerk / July 3, 2012 at 04:23 pm
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Uh, it didn't cost taxpayers money, because as the article also states, the city did this for a fee.
Craig replying to a comment from jerk / July 3, 2012 at 04:25 pm
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No, it DIDN'T cost the taxpayers money, lrn2read. Warner Bros. were invoiced for the full amount of the work.

@OP: Yes, I this IS a service the city should be offering for the right amount of cash. I don't see how a faux street sign is any different than a poster at a TTC stop or subway station, a streetcar wrapped in advertising, or... oh wait, you hate that stuff too. Well suck it up, advertising = revenue.
K-Borg replying to a comment from jerk / July 3, 2012 at 04:26 pm
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Did you read the article?

"...these signs were manufactured and installed — for a fee — by the City of Toronto."

It then goes on to say that Warner Bros. were invoiced for the full amount.

No gravy here, bro.
Craig replying to a comment from jerk / July 3, 2012 at 04:27 pm
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I do agree with Fred that it is silly, but I dunno if I'd call street signs "sacred." Seriously, if anyone thinks the street sign with the Bat symbol on it is the real street name, when it's right next to an official-looking, blue "King St" sign, they deserve to get confused.
fred / July 3, 2012 at 04:32 pm
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Trust me. Tourists will be confused.
Kieren replying to a comment from fred / July 3, 2012 at 05:00 pm
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Tourists? Most Torontonians will mouth-breath their way in circles because of these signs.
erich nolan bertussi / July 3, 2012 at 05:05 pm
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I've mentioned this to a few people the odd time here and there.

What we need to do is full on outright ban this type and style along with all outdoor billboard kind of advertising sort of like how the City of Oakville does.

Allowing only TTC property to be placement and the TTC system and TTC vehicles, with all $$$ going directly to support and build out a fantastic network for all to use totally free of any fares.

That is the magic, that is the vision, no who has the guts and influence to peddle to make it really happen?

Could you imagine a clutter free ad free city with the most fantastic transit system on the planet at NO COST to all rides?

Sounds like heaven right?

WE CAN, do it. Let's try :)

ENB..//
Craig replying to a comment from fred / July 3, 2012 at 05:06 pm
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lol. And the ones who are deserve to be. If you see the bat symbol on any signage, and you don't immediately consider it to be fictional, you've got some sh*t to straighten out.
Batman / July 3, 2012 at 05:16 pm
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What. I don't live there.
wtfskies replying to a comment from Baller / July 3, 2012 at 05:29 pm
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you want streets named after people's houses?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_Frank_(TTC)#History:"Castle Frank Station, opened in 1966, is named after the community that it serves. Its streets, and the brook that flows through it, are in turn named after Sir John Graves Simcoe's summer residence in that area overlooking the Don River, which burned down in 1829. "

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runnymede,_Toronto:";The name Runnymede originates with the estate of John Scarlett, an early land owner in the area."

duhhhhhh
Me / July 3, 2012 at 05:49 pm
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If the city had renamed it for PRIDE, BLOGTO would be saying how GREAT it was. Typical Leftie double standard. Get over it. Who cares?
W. K. Lis / July 3, 2012 at 06:43 pm
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What about Joe Shuster Way, in the Queen & Dufferin area?

If you don't know who Joe Shuster is, well he was a mild mannered cartoonist who co-created a fictional character from another planet with powers beyond those of mortal men.
waaaaaaaaa / July 3, 2012 at 07:58 pm
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Quick! Someone call the Waaaaaaaaaaaaaambulance!
peta / July 3, 2012 at 08:09 pm
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wait until our thanksgiving campaign where we rename every toronto street - meat is murder - then we will still be cool with it?
v79 / July 3, 2012 at 08:24 pm
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Wow. Some people will bitch about anything. This is completely harmless and doesn't affect anyone negatively. BlogTO should really be more selective with the quality of the articles they publish. This is just pathetic.
The Joker / July 3, 2012 at 08:31 pm
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Whoever can jack those signs will be a hero!
Moose / July 3, 2012 at 08:41 pm
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+1 to v79 & everyone else who finds this article annoying & pretentious. Lighten up BlogTO. Don't have anything nice to say don't say it at all.
A. R. / July 3, 2012 at 08:46 pm
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This article makes a great point and ventures to ask some very important questions. No amount of money should be able to literally change the physical makeup of our city, no matter how much cash it gets us. The use of public space is extremely vital to a location's merits and splattering corporate content on some of our busiest streets speaks poorly of the city's integrity-the governance (no surprise there)and the public (in respects to an apathetic, compliant attitude). Frankly, the lack of concern reflected in many of the comments is horrifying. To be relaxed about "fun" or "harmless" gimmicks is one thing, but to compromise the identity of your city to promote a Hollywood film is just misguided.
Mike_G / July 3, 2012 at 08:50 pm
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The real travesty here folks, is that fixed gear abomination, and the wanker who's pushing it.
Rick / July 3, 2012 at 08:52 pm
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WHY SO SERIOUS BlogTO?
Matt / July 3, 2012 at 09:11 pm
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@Mike_G It's literally from Walmart.
almost / July 3, 2012 at 09:14 pm
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At least the intersection actually looks like Gotham City! Well, if only the Shoppers sign was taken away.
Matt Y replying to a comment from mike1234 / July 3, 2012 at 09:19 pm
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I totally agree. You have to understand that "some people" just come on here and complain about everything.
BATMAN / July 3, 2012 at 09:25 pm
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I'M BATMAN
mike / July 3, 2012 at 09:35 pm
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It's cute that this blog would condemn the "branding" of our streets by anyone with enough money, while at the same time vigorously supporting the people who "brand" our street with graffiti without permission.
mike replying to a comment from A. R. / July 3, 2012 at 09:37 pm
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Remember sheeple

"anyone with enough cash" = bad

"anyone with a spraycan" = good
raymes / July 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm
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Pretty cool but I can see why people would be pissed.
Aeudet / July 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm
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Countdown until someone steals them...
Taarique Debidin / July 3, 2012 at 11:36 pm
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...I can't exactly see why people would complain about this, but I'm not too insightful concerning taxes and politics. I DO know a thing or two about marketing, and let's face it, this is unexpected and pretty creative, subtle as it may be. ;)
TheWord / July 3, 2012 at 11:51 pm
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Who gives an ish!? The guy in that pic has an awesome looking bike.
Mark / July 4, 2012 at 06:22 am
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What an expensive campaign! If the city installed it, the already overpaid workers likely did it at night, which means the union says they need to be paid triple time. Plus it probably took a whole team of workers to get this job done!
That's CUPE 79: Taking Care of Toronto
kingmo / July 4, 2012 at 07:58 am
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meh - seems harmless. if anything its poorly spent ad money, because the signage downtown is so visually noisy that it wouldn't get noticed by drivers or pedestrians. the only people it would really confuse are tourists. the few local people who look up and read the sign might notice it and think (for a micro-second) oh... next.
scottd / July 4, 2012 at 08:34 am
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Even if the City was paid, it took up City resources that should be used for taking care of real projects. Anybody who deals with the City day to day knows that most departments are understaffed so taking hours of time away really slows down what workers are supposed to be doing. On a creative note, can't say this is very high impact for the money they spent.
TheVok / July 4, 2012 at 08:35 am
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Stop saying 'precedence' when you mean 'precedent.'
Baller replying to a comment from wtfskies / July 4, 2012 at 08:52 am
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Notice neither of those streets were named "Sir John Graves Simcoe's Summer Residence Road" or, "Runnymede Estate Street" ... I'm aware that streets are often named after significant landmarks and rich folks. Thanks for the wiki links. No one would've believed it otherwise.
jer replying to a comment from kingmo / July 4, 2012 at 09:43 am
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Well, maybe they were hoping for a controversy and a major Toronto blog picking up the story. Instant publicity.
AwwMuffin replying to a comment from scottd / July 4, 2012 at 10:14 am
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Aww, Muffin. Do you need a tissue???
WHATUP8 replying to a comment from jerk / July 4, 2012 at 04:42 pm
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IT DID NOT COST YOU ANYTHING,I AM SURE THE CITY MADE A TIDY PROFIT FROM THIS,THEY CHARGED THE COMPANY MONEY FOR THIS
Me / July 4, 2012 at 05:39 pm
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There's a major Toronto blog? Can you name it? I'd like to check it out.
Canada / July 5, 2012 at 01:50 am
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It's cute! it's fun! It's everything I hoped a big, big city would be when I moved here from Saskatchewan!! huzzah!!!!
Optimist / July 5, 2012 at 02:11 am
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First, I concur with the previous comment by "Canada". It's a fun little gimmick. Being the target of advertising is actually one of the perks of big city life, if you choose to view it in a positive way.

At a human level, advertising and marketing have provided good jobs for many creative and talented young people working in this city. Obviously this particular marketing tactic was dreamt up somewhere else, by an agency or agencies employed by Warner Bros, but I am just making the point that advertising and marketing are not the terrible evils that some would have us believe. There is a human side to it. For every advertising executive, there are many more young thinkers and graphic artists employed in this field.

Furthermore, even if this was dreamt up somewhere else, it has created a tiny bit of extra paid work for people here in Toronto, in manufacturing and installing the temporary signage. Every little bit helps. Why complain when you can look at it like this?

I see only few negatives and a lot of positives about all of this. Just my two cents!
Alex / July 5, 2012 at 02:06 pm
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I don't like the over advertising we generally put up with in daily life, but this is a cute marketing gimmick that isn't overly obtrusive at all. Now if only some caped crusader would smash the posters on those info pillars...
Adingmytwocents replying to a comment from A. R. / July 5, 2012 at 06:00 pm
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Hear, hear.
Morax / July 6, 2012 at 07:06 am
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It's "precedent," not "precedence"
kingmo / July 6, 2012 at 11:50 am
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what would be cool is if they had some vinyl application on that corner façade of One King West of the Batmobile coming out of the Bat Cave just behind that street sign. that would catch my attention, achieve some "wow" factor, and speak to the Gotham-like look of that SW corner. i'm sure advertising creative minds probably thought of it, but One King West declined defacing their upscale building for ad revenues.
Alex replying to a comment from kingmo / July 6, 2012 at 01:56 pm
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The coolest thing ever would be if they had a staged foiled robbery and fight between a costumed Batman and some Bane henchman. In a public place like the lot behind Much Music, or Yonge Dundas Square. That would just be awesome.

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