A billboard in Toronto along the Gardiner Expressway is drawing attention from motorists because of its message telling them to “text and drive.”
The ad, which appears to be a promotional ploy by Wathan Funeral Home, is not what it seems.
Wathan isn’t even a real company. Its website supplies information about texting and driving collisions and deaths.
“We’re just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving,” the website states. “Which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving.”
Toronto ad agency john st. is behind the fake billboards — which will be erected along the Gardiner, at Albion Road and Steeles Avenue for the next few days.
Executive Creative Director Angus Tucker says they did “a simple flip on a term we hear all the time, which is ‘Don’t text and drive.’”
The hope is that the ad draws attention, and as Const. Clint Stibbe of Toronto Traffic Services says, “If it’s getting people to talk then it’s doing its job.”
As Stibbe points out, based on 2015 preliminary data, there were approximately 7,317 motor vehicle collisions in Toronto where at least one driver was inattentive — and 1,906 people were injured in those crashes. He added that the use of a cell phone was a major factor in those collisions.
“We’ve seen individuals offended by these types of ads,” Stibbe said, adding he is in favour of the provocative billboards.
“But when you look at the types of ads we do for impaired driving they’re far more graphic.”