March 29, 2010 2

Turning Public Space into Art

By in Advertising, Design

Copywriters and designers are lucky. We get to think and write and design all day. While thousands of others are spending their work day with numbers and monotony, we get to stimulate our creative juices. But as with all things, there are both pros and cons that must not be overlooked. Yes, we get to be creative all day and think really awesome thoughts and put watered down versions of those thoughts out into the world, but the thing with advertising and design is that you never ever know if people will like it or not. You can speculate and get the marketing guy to rattle off some numbers or talk about similar campaigns that have done well in the past. You can all sit around in a board room and convince yourselves why a campaign is brilliant, why everyone will love it, and then you sit back and watch your bit of brilliance do nothing but a big belly flop in the world.

This ‘not knowing’ how things will go is a hard thing, especially when you’re doing something big. Nobody knew what would happen when Toronto’s TTC allowed for a takeover of Queen Station, to advertise for Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland movie. The design included platform poster displays and large-scale decals featuring the Red and White Queens. The words “Red” and “White” were put directly above the station’s name, so that the subway station itself became the perfect backdrop to play up the fictional rivalry. It would have been pretty simple to just put posters up of the two queens, but it is the use of the station’s name that made this design such a seamless one. It is what blended the completely boring reality of waiting for your next subway with the fantastical and imaginative story of Alice in Wonderland and its two queens.

A lot of people pass through Queen Station every day. You have to wonder what people’s reactions to this might be. If the past is any indication, we have no idea which way it might go. Sometimes, people seem to love these fun little interruptions being embedded in their day to day lives. Other times, people seem to just be irritated about it. They feel that advertising is overtaking public space, and that they shouldn’t have to see gigantic decals in their face while waiting for their subway. Maybe they hate Alice in Wonderland. Maybe they hate Tim Burton. And Ads. And Helena Bonham Carter’s face. There are a lot of reasons that somebody would not want to see these ads. But I personally feel that these people are lacking in imagination.

Many people that I know have mentioned this design to me, and not one of them disliked it. In fact, they all seemed rather impressed. As a copywriter, hearing this is a great relief. It offers some comfort to know that a good idea won’t always be ignored or wasted. People do sometimes take notice when something is clever and well-done. People are actually able to appreciate the way this design was incorporated into the station name. They may not care about the movie at all but they can still admit that it was a good idea. And for those of us working in the advertising industry, nothing is more important than a good idea getting the recognition it deserves.

About: Ian:
Hi, I'm Ian T. I'm a York grad and a copywriter for Eden Advertising. I'm the master of procrastinating. I like to use parentheses (sometimes). I love the LCBO because wine makes me happy. I don't blog, I capture moments in time.

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2 Responses to “Turning Public Space into Art”

  1. Emma Hill says:

    Tim Burton is an eccentric director in my opinion but he has his own unique style’`.

  2. Lillian King says:

    Tim Burton is just a very talented director and i love all his works*-.