A smashing good stunt

Red's billboard simulating a car crash for Thor Insurance gets a little too real for residents of Toefield, Alberta.


Thor Insurance and Registries is a small insurance company based in the town of Toefield, Alberta, which is about an hour east of Edmonton. It recently engaged agency Red to launch a new brand platform, which it did by staging a fake car crash with a pickup truck wrapped around the post of a billboard that read “you never know when you’ll need us.” But the story is just getting started.

The people of Toefield (population: 2,182) probably aren’t as used to public marketing stunts as us city-slickers, and reaction to the billboard ranged from appreciation to outright concern for someone’s safety. People stopped their cars at the side of the road to get a better look and began posting photos to social. Others began calling the local RCMP to report what they believed was a real accident (one even claimed to have seen the accident happen). After five days, so much buzz was created in the town that local law enforcement asked Thor to remove the installation all together.


Ad fail? Far from it. Talk about the billboard on social (which, apart from those worried about a possible accident, was largely positive) and coverage of it in local news outlets got the kind of attention a small-town, independently-owned insurance company rarely gets for its advertising.

“Publicity like this can often make clients skittish, but not [Travis Jones, owner of Thor],” said Craig Redmond, CD at Red, in a release. “In fact, the conversation on social media has been so overwhelmingly positive, he has insisted that the next iteration of the board create even more water cooler talk. So stay tuned.”

For good measure, though, Thor also sponsored a raffle at local rodeo (never change, Alberta) the weekend after the installation was disassembled, asking participants to swear an oath to drive safe and donating to a local traffic safety network.


Brand: Thor Insurance and Resistries
Agency: Red
Jay Kilby: Account Director
Lyndsey Manyluk: Account Coordinator
Chris Phillips: Media Director
Christy Yaseyko: Art Director
Tara Slater: Copywriter
Nigel Hood: Associate Creative Director
Jon Manning: Associate Creative Director
Craig Redmond: Creative Director
Lori Billey: Founder, CEO