Residents of Toronto are seeing "tombstone" signs on neighborhood stores as part of a campaign by the city to get people to save small businesses after the lockdowns and shop local.
Toronto has seen some of the strictest and longest-running lock-downs in North America, with indoor dining closed since October and hairdressers and barbers shuttered since November. To help keep the city's small business afloat, the campaign, created by agency Berners Bowie Lee for the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA), reminds locals of their plight.
It more than 400 businesses across the greater Toronto area displaying “Buy Toronto Time" posters resembling tombstones in their windows. Each poster includes the business name and opening date, but the second date remains blank— indicating that their future is undetermined. There are also over 100 billboards across the city, and an Instagram account (@buytorontotime) sharing moving stories of the participating businesses.
In addition, a TV ad, seen above, is running, showing some of the struggling businesses and featuring a voiceover by Clifford Paul, whose barbershop has been closed for over six months due to lockdown restrictions. Businesses can sign up to join the campaign and display posters at buytorontotime.com.
“Most people in the city want to help local businesses,” says Michael Murray, founding partner, creative, Berners Bowie Lee. “When a place we love closes we feel a sense of sadness and we often regret that we didn’t do more to help. ‘Buy Toronto Time’ is a campaign that triggers this sense of loss to nudge people in neighborhoods across Toronto into action.”