The Future of Real Estate Advertising


5 minute read

May 19, 2009

In December of 2009, almost ALL of the garbage/recycling bins across the city that feature advertising on the front and back will be ripped off the sidewalks and not replaced.

The city is “de-cluttering” the streets by removing these advertisements disguised as garbage bins, most of which have Realtors’ faces on them.

True, Realtors are not without new options, but my recent experiences have left a sour taste in my mouth…


From now on, anytime I feel down, upset, or not my usual jovial self, I’ll just look at the billboard above and thank God that I’m not Chet

Has this man no shame?

More to the point, who in the world would call this guy?  Who is looking at this billboard and thinking, “Man, I just gotta use that Chet-dude to buy my next house!”

Perhaps this is like the pot calling the kettle black…

During my first four years in real estate, I spent every waking moment making fun of Realtors who put their faces on garbage bins, benches, bus shelters, or buses themselves.

I always thought it was somewhat shameful, and I swore that I’d never follow suit.

The thought of being associated with garbage or having people shove cans in my mouth just didn’t appeal to me.

Call me a hypocrite, or maybe even a “sell-out,” but for the last year I have been the proud owner of three garbage-bin-advertisements down in the St. Lawrence Market area.

You know what?  It works.

We all have to make a living, and I bit the bullet and put myself “out there” for people to draw moustaches on or throw slurpee’s at.

But the company that is responsible for all these garbage-advertisements, Eco-Media, has a contract with the City of Toronto that runs out in December of 2009.

The City will be pulling all of these garbage bins (benches have already been removed) and replacing them with much smaller units.  Ironically, these new garbage units have been criticized throughout various media sources in the last couple weeks (like this one here), but that is a topic for another day.

As for new “outdoor advertising,” our wonderful mayor, David Miller, awarded the contract to ONE company, essentially giving Astral Media a monopoly on the product for the next twenty years.

Now, I’ve never been one to make unfounded, slanderous accusations about corrupt municipal politicians, but I have to wonder what’s really going on between the two men seen here:


I wonder if Brian Mulroney gave Astral Media a lesson on how to stuff envelopes full of cash…


With Astral’s new monopoly on outdoor advertising, they are certainly making their presence felt.

For only one of their new transit-shelter advertisements, it’s going to cost me FOUR TIMES as much as I currently pay right now…..for all three of my garbage bins!

Last Monday, I attended the presentation for Astral’s new “Brand Builder” product for outdoor advertising.

It was comical, at best.

After drinking coffee on the second floor of the Soho Hotel with the sales reps and a bunch of other people wearing name-tags, a door opened, and the song “Young Folks” by Peter Bjorn & John began to play from inside the room.  Naturally, we were all inclined to follow the sweet, sweet sound…

My assigned sales rep informed us that we had “VIP seating,” and we were ushered to the front of a crammed room.

For the next half hour, I watched the most pathetic power-point presentation I have seen since second-year university.  In fact, most of the content of this presentation was right out of Marketing 2AA3 which I took a decade ago in school.

After the presentation, my sales rep crowded around us and proclaimed that the “Special Deal” was only available NOW, and if we waited, we would miss out.

He told us that he only had twelve of these “special packages” to sell, and then that was it.

I felt like I was back in Florida in 2001 being pressured into buying a time-share, only the sales reps in Florida were old enough to shave

The little twerp that was trying to sell transit-shelters ads, who fidgeted during the entire presentation yet still had the wherewithal to clap on cue at pre-planned pauses, was holding a pink Astral Media pen and extending it towards me.

There is nothing I hate more than being sold.

The product that Astral Media had designed may actually suit Pepsi or Pizza Pizza, but for Realtors trying to specialize in one area or neighborhood of the city, their idea of throwing up five transit-shelter-ads at miscellaneous locations within a massive five-kilometre radius made absolutely no sense.

I tried to explain this to my assigned sales rep later that night on the phone, but like a good boy who had been schooled in the art of “getting the deal,” he gave me every retort in the book.

Astral Media simply isn’t listening, and considering that somewhere in the neighborhood of 40% of all of Eco-Media‘s garbage-bin- advertisements were bought by Realtors, I think Astral is neglecting a huge client base.

So what does this long, perhaps-boring story mean for all of you common-folk?

Well, two things.

One, I am a hypocrite for making fun of the young salesman who tried to pitch his company’s awful product on me, since I am technically a salesman myself (although I like to think of myself as an expert in market-dynamics who is hired to negotiate a purchase or sale).

Two, and more importantly, it means that the streets of Toronto are going to have far, far fewer ads this time next year.

Every twenty feet in this city, you see an advertisement of one type or another.

And I have been told by several people that the most annoying advertisements are those of Realtors, since a bottle of Corona can blend in with the background but somebody’s massive, smiling face and name in twelve-inch letters is somewhat hard to avoid.

We’ll only have to see Brad Lamb‘s head on a sheep’s body wearing a space helmet for another six-months, and then let the good times roll!

Astral Media has “only” 3700 transit shelters in the entire GTA, which is about 10% of all the existing garbage bin and bench advertisements that we’re accustomed to seeing.

As a resident of Toronto, I welcome the removal of these tacky advertisements.

But of course, as a Realtor, I have to get more creative with how to get my name and service out there.

Just in case anybody is wondering how much it costs for these new transit-shelter ads, I was quoted a price of $32,000 for one year to have my glorious face on the outside of the TTC shelter on the northeast corner of King & Jarvis.

That seems like a heckuva lot of money, considering I can pay a homeless man $10 per day to yell my name really, really loud while throwing bread-crumbs at passer-byers, and I think we’d all agree that this is far more effective…

I guess I could always buy a couple of billboards like Paul Rudd’s character in the movie “I Love You Man,” but I think I’ll probably just hang back on the sidelines and see how this one pans out.

The city’s streets will soon be much less cluttered.

But who then, oh wise one, will we draw moustaches on for good-humored fun?

Written By David Fleming

David Fleming is the author of Toronto Realty Blog, founded in 2007. He combined his passion for writing and real estate to create a space for honest information and two-way communication in a complex and dynamic market. David is a licensed Broker and the Broker of Record for Bosley – Toronto Realty Group

Find Out More About David Read More Posts

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