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Greenpeace takes on the oil sands, and other ad news from this week

wine campaign

Rob Wyse

1. Pattison Outdoor has denied Greenpeace Canada the space on one of its billboards in downtown Edmonton – and handed the activist group a much bigger, free PR opportunity. Last week, Greenpeace booked a week's space for the ad, due to start this Sunday, at a fee of $2,800 plus tax. The sign was designed to draw attention to safety concerns about oil pipelines in the province. Pattison would not comment or give reasons for its decision. Greenpeace was hoping to use the publicity about the billboard spat to encourage Alberta Premier Alison Redford to appoint an independent body to investigate the safety of the province's pipelines, as recently occurred in Saskatchewan. But on Tuesday, when the activist group went on the media offensive about Pattison's rejection, an oil spill occurred on Enbridge Inc.'s Athabasca pipeline, doing the job for them: the Premier is looking into whether further action is needed.

2. Colour-enhanced pickles, tilted buns and digitally altered cheese; this is what McDonald's ads are made of. This week, McDonald's Canada's latest response to consumer questions in an ongoing campaign pulled back the veil on why its burgers look so much more appetizing on film than in real life. Techniques such as artful ketchup application and digitally retouched buns in the behind-the-scenes video won't be surprising to anyone in the ad business. But the initiative is part of a larger campaign by McDonald's to cultivate an image of transparency, according to its marketing team.

3. It wasn't a good spring for businesses that rely on advertising revenues. Concerns about the health of the global economy, especially in the euro zone, were a drag on the ad market in April and May, according to the latest ad spending forecasts from ZenithOptimedia. The good news? Things should be slightly better beginning in June, the firm predicts. In Canada, ad spending overall is expected to rise 3.9 per cent to $11.4-billion total for 2012, slower growth than originally expected because of economic uncertainty. Growth will be driven primarily by Internet and mobile advertising, according to the report. ZenithOptimedia predicts online ad spending in Canada could overtake TV as soon as next year.

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4. Does the public transit system in Canada's largest city drive you to drink? A new ad has just the thing for that. As part of a campaign designed to remind Toronto residents how near they are to Niagara's wineries, Agency59 put a glass of wine on a table behind Plexiglas at an Astral Media bus shelter in downtown Toronto this week. Above the out-of-reach tipple was a headline that said, "So close you can taste it." Wine Country Ontario's 2012 tourism season campaign launched this month. "So far no one has attempted to steal the glass of wine," Agency59's chief creative officer Brian Howlett noted in an e-mail. Perhaps he's hoping for the same type of promotional buzz that surrounded the theft of a giant set of headphones from a Halifax shelter ad this month.

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