“The Entire Neighbourhood In Your Back Pocket” – A Yellow Pages Comeback Story

A week or two after I arrived in Toronto, I noticed that my closest TTC subway station was splattered with yellow overnight.

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Upon closer inspection, it turned out that Yellow Pages had completely taken over the station- every possible advertising spot and even places that probably weren’t intended for any media were splashed with yellow. As I go through this station every day, I’ve had countless opportunities to view and analyze the ads- normal people probably wouldn’t pay as much attention as a marketer such as myself, but I was just so captivated by the ads.

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I found the campaign to be quirky, engaging, relatable, and actually useful. It presented useful information about each station in a humorous, down-to-earth way that anyone could relate to, and the large media buy ensured that you wouldn’t miss it. For a newcomer like myself, it allowed me to get a better sense of the different neighbourhoods in the city, and brightened up a normally mundane task of waiting for my train.

It is no secret that Yellow Pages and phone books in general have become extinct in recent years. With online and mobile directories, search engine optimization, as well as consumer review websites such as Yelp, Yellow Pages has found itself decreasing in relevance to business owners and consumers alike. Why thumb through a heavy phone book when you can simply type in what you’re looking for and get instant results on your smartphone? And why spend money advertising in a place that no longer reaches your target audience?

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However, I think Yellow Pages is taking good measures to increase its relevancy in this day and age, and stay top-of-mind for customers. Yellow Pages is now highly digitized- with mobile apps ranging from its original purpose of finding and discovering businesses, to getting great deals on Canadian goods. It’s aim is to help Canadians find what they are looking for, quickly, and to help simplify their lives.

As for the campaign itself, I thought that it was well thought out, and overall nicely executed. They chose a great spot to advertise- at St. George station, which is a busy transfer hub and located right at the University of Toronto, which gets a lot of traffic from a young, tech-savvy crowd. They did place similar ads in other stations, but so far the biggest media buy I’ve seen has been at St. George where it just completely occupied the station, leaving no room for other companies to advertise, and capturing even the most passive of customers.

However, the ads urge TTC customers to download the app, and speaking from a personal point of view, I don’t know if this is the most helpful thing seeing as there is no reception down in the subway station and line, so incoming transit users may see the ad and then forget about it by the time they regain mobile reception and reach their destination. I personally did not feel compelled to download the app.

But on the positive side, the communication was very clear, and the ads make it evident that Yellow Pages is a helpful tool to guide you in your everyday life. It is really hard to ignore, and is relatable and attention-grabbing to the masses.

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I don’t know how much longer the ads will be up for (it has been a couple of weeks), but I really enjoy looking at them every time I pass by. I think this is a great example of a company that has faced challenges in an increasingly digital world, and is regaining its foothold and relevancy through digitizing its own product, presenting a clear value proposition, and devising clever marketing strategies.

Toronto is an advertising playground, and I love doing short analyses on different campaigns and discussing them with my peers. I hope to see more innovative campaigns like this during the summer!

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I couldn’t agree more.

Note: The only way I was able to get photos without hoards of people was to be there at 6AM. Sometimes there are upsides to being awake before the sun comes up 🙂

London Travels: Breathtaking Views & Landmarks

So I’m sort of behind in my blogging, but I’ve been out until decently late in the evening and have not had time to sit down and write. Takes me around an hour to create a post, especially if they have photos, so it’s been difficult to find the time.

August 22: I visited the Buckingham Palace, which was a lot more grand than Kensington Palace. Queen Elizabeth II lives here (but she is away for the summer, hence why it is open for visitors right now), and it was just really grand and posh.

We had to buy our tickets 2 days in advance, we had to go through airport-esque security, scanning bags in those plastic bins and going through metal detectors and such, and we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside. I personally thought it was a ton of hassle, but I guess I can’t go to London and not go to Buckingham Palace.

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As I didn’t have any photos of the inside, I can only describe it as over-the-top and lavish. Yes, it was a sight to behold, each room decorated with priceless art, gold, red velvet, jewels, and beautiful architecture. But it was to the point that every room began to look the same. I honestly can’t imagine living in that palace, it’s just too much. Still, definitely a must-see in London.

Afterwards, we found yet more Asian food, this time Chinese, in a bustling place not far from the Palace and from Victoria Station:

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It looks better than it tasted. I think I’ll stick to non-Asian foods from now on in London. It’s just not the same as home. Although that Korean food I had the other day was amazing.

We headed over to the Natural History Museum, which was actually more interesting than the British Museum. It talked a lot of about how the Earth came to be, its natural processes and minerals, and was basically Geography 12 all over again but in a more interesting and interactive manner.

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Is that not the coolest escalator you’ve ever seen? Definitely the best part of this museum.

After the museum, we wanted to head back to the hotel, but upon arriving at the underground station:

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Yeah… there’s no way we’d be able to get home. Rush hour in London makes rush hour in Vancouver seem tame. People flooded the station as far as the eye could see. So we went to eat dinner instead.

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We went to Pret A Manger, which is this cafe chain in London that I’d been dying to try ever since coming across the name in Sophie Kinsella’s books when I was younger. It was (most unfortunately) too late to have coffee, so we had some sparking juice and a chicken and pasta salad instead.

The next day, we visited Big Ben tower and the London Parliament buildings, aka the Palace of Westminster. Again, airport-like security and no photos inside, so I don’t have photos of the inside. But the place used to be a palace, so I think that kind of gives you an idea of its grandiose architecture and design. I noticed that the way that the government works here is very similar to Canada’s. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and I actually managed to pay attention the whole time.

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Unfortunately, we couldn’t tour the inside of Big Ben, as it is only open to residents of the Westminster area. Not even residents of London, just Westminster. But admiring it from the outside is just as great. It looks beautiful in photos.

Afterwards, we walked over the Westminster Bridge overlooking the River Thames, and honestly that is probably the highlight of my vacation thus far. I got to eat lunch right next to the River and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. It looked like the opening scene of a movie, or a photo on a postcard, or something… and I couldn’t believe that I got to see it with my own eyes. I was blown away. Such breathtaking views.

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Afterwards, we briefly visited the Westminster Abbey, the famous cathedral. Fun fact: Will and Kate got married here!

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Later that night, my family and I tried Jamie Oliver, an Italian restaurant that was apparently big in London (according to my friend). However, we were very disappointed by the quality of the food.

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My pasta was very watered down, plain, and bland, even after sprinkling on parmesan and pepper. And the portions were tiny for their price- it looks decent here, but we were still hungry after eating our entrees.

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I believe that this was a “Strawberry refresher” of some sort- but it was terrible. It was expensive, sour, and comprised mostly of ice. It was rather pricey for a non-alcoholic beverage as well.

More to come later! It’s almost midnight here and I must get to bed. May not have the chance to blog until I get home- tomorrow is my last full day here!

Transit observations:

Observation #5: The transit system here is so efficient, I love it. There is even 24-hour transit in Central London, with some buses coming every half hour in the middle of the night. What I would do to have 24-hour transit in Vancouver.

Observation #6: The tube is really, really hot. Both in the trains and in the stations. May be due to the sheer amount of people in the stations/trains (see photo above), but I sweat up a storm every time I enter an underground station.

Observation #7: Unlike Vancouver, there is a plastic box around bus operators (for safety), and you are not allowed to speak to them when the bus is in motion. Buses in central London are all double-decker (I love it). I also noticed that there are no homeless people on any transit systems, which there is a lot of in Vancouver.