Running through the Six with my glows

Tourism Toronto's stunt, by Smak, promoted the nightlife and diversity of the city.

Toronto’s no stranger to graffiti. From the Graffiti Alley made famous by Rick Mercer to the quirky Kensington Market creations, the city is home to an abundance of creative street art.

Now, Tourism Toronto has added a fun twist to the city’s graffiti. And if you happen to see it, you would even say it glows.

The tourism agency and Smak paired with three local graffiti artists with distinct styles to draw attention to Toronto’s vibrant streets during what was admittedly a turbulent spring in terms of temperature. The murals appeared as run-of-the-mill designs during the day, but at night, they turned into something more.

The three artists, Young Jarus, Ben Johnston and uber5000, used UV paint on (legally secured) walls in prominent locations in Toronto’s west-end neighbourhoods. For four straight weeks, each artist took to the streets, often combating rapidly changing temperatures to paint their depictions of Toronto at night, to show how the city comes alive when the sun goes down. Their designs ranged from realistic to abstract and cartoon-like, reflecting the diversity of the city.

Paula Port, director of brand content at Tourism Toronto, said the goal was to get people to think differently about the city, especially during more turbulent weather.

Using specialized LED black lights, Smak illuminated the walls to show different takes on the design.

One thing notably absent from the murals was their connection to Tourism Toronto. The only text on the murals was the promotional hashtag “#SeeTorontoNow.”

Smak also partnered with BlogTO for customized social media content across Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, to highlight the murals.

Now that the campaign has concluded, Tourism Toronto revealed that more than 8.3 million people were reached across social media. A video created by BlogTO reached two million people and saw 230,000 views and 36,496 total engagements.

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Client: Tourism Toronto
Agency: Smak Agency
Artists: Young Jarus, Ben Johnston, uber5000