A Fuji Tamale Heritage Moment

Some thoughts on finding a billboard I wrote ten years ago, still up and forgotten in downtown Toronto.

Most ads I’ve worked on have a short life. Both in the real world and in my memory. You work on them a couple of weeks and then you see them in real life and then they’re gone never to be seen again. Then we’re on to the next one. That’s why I went looking for this one. Something I wrote ten years ago that I had a hunch might still be up on the same wall it was posted on in downtown Toronto.

Painted on the south-facing side of the Duke of Argyle pub, this mural for Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale used to face King street at John overlooking a big parking lot. A few years ago the empty ‘lot’ became the site of the Toronto International Film Festival headquarters (and condos). The Duke closed (it became the construction office) and the tower went up right in front of the mural.

I’ve never had a copy of it for my portfolio, so recently I thought I’d walk through some dangerous back alleys to see if it was still there. (Okay, it’s not that dangerous although I was offered a BJ back there.) Was it there? Yup. Facing the loading dock of the TIFF tower.

It was kind of comforting still seeing it. It was like coming across an old diary and re-reading it years later. I remember that time in my life very well. The area was different then (remember when the Club District wasn’t just in name only?). And it was a different life for me – Downtown Partners, the agency I wrote it at doesn’t even exist anymore. And it was just before my career-changing time at Zig that made me love advertising all over again.

I have a feeling its days are numbered so I’m glad I got to take a last look. It’s not the best headline I ever wrote, but I guess in a strange way I identify with the mural itself. Ten years on and we’re both still in the ad game. Albeit a bit more in the back alleys but happy.

BTW, I do miss the old Keith’s tagline: Those who like it, like it a lot. It was easy to write to. And it was true.

Alexander Keith’s OOH


AGENCY: Downtown Partners
Copywriter: Andrew Bradley
Art Director: Craig Markou
CD: Dan Pawych


This ad ran in the program for the 2011 Memorial Cup Hockey Championship.
It’s a very exciting tournament and many of the top players go on to be NHL stars.
As lead sponsor of the tournament, we wanted MasterCard to stand out from the other sponsorship ads – they can be very boring to be honest. We created an ad that did double duty as a page that could be used for player’s autographs.

CW: Me AD: Rob Kingston
AGENCY: MacLaren McCann

During a freelance stint at MacLaren McCann, I worked on the team that relaunched the Buick lineup for 2011.
The Creative Director and Art Director went to California to shoot some gorgeous TV spots. I got to stay in Toronto and work on the print. Ah, the glamorous life of a freelancer.

The brief: let people know that this isn’t the same Buick your fat greasy Uncle drove in 80s

CW: Me, Gary Lennox AD: Matt Howe
ECD: Sean Davison
AGENCY: MacLaren McCann

With temperatures getting down to -35C in the winter, you’d think drinking tea would come more naturally to Canadians. However — shocker! — Starbucks seems to be known for coffee. So during a freelance stint at BBDO, we were asked to come up with an idea to feature their Tazo teas. It really is a great product and we wanted to push the silk sachet and natural, wholesome ingredients.
John Terry (yes, the Gold Lion winner for ‘Tropicana’, sheesh) and I cooked up this idea ‘Naturally Beautiful’ involving beautiful insects filling the sachets with natural ingredients. Chris Munnik took over the copywriting duties after the idea was approved by Seattle.
Still being rolled out as of January 2011.

GENESIS TEAM: Me, John Terry CW: Chris Munnik CD: Carlos Moreno AGENCY: BBDO

(click below to enlarge)

I worked on IKEA print for 3 years. If there was a double page spread in Canada for IKEA in the mid 2000s, chances are you were reading my wordcraftingness.
Fine, so that’s not a word.

CW: Me AD: Allan Mah

(click on ad to enlarge)

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