Toronto Star creates whale of a campaign to drive tourism

By Lisa Boles

The Toronto Star piloted several new technologies, including delighting readers with the sound of an orca, as part of a broader “100 BC Moments” campaign for Destination BC.

The Star collaborated with the client’s agencies (Jungle Media Vancouver and Dare Vancouver) on this awareness-generating initiative, designed to showcase the sights and sounds of British Columbia in downtown Toronto.

The campaign aimed to drive summer tourism to the province by applying traditional media in a non-traditional way. This was accomplished by bringing to market a number of never-done-before elements:

  • A series of full-colour, four-page cover wraps allowed stunning photography to envelop the entire newspaper while providing enough space to tell the province’s story and highlight key features.

    The first wrap featured an impressive image of an orca breaching the water, and the subsequent three wraps showcased other iconic British Columbia images: a grizzly bear, lounging seals, and majestic Mount Robson.
  • The orca-wrapped newspaper was inserted to an oversized, custom poly-bag designed to resemble endless ocean waves. The orca appeared to leap from the ocean when the reader removed the wrapped newspaper from the bag.

    At the agency’s request, the Star wrapped and poly-bagged newspapers in news boxes throughout downtown Toronto. This distribution upgrade synchronised with other elements.
  • Readers who retrieved wrapped newspapers from boxes in the downtown core were treated to sounds that matched the image on that week’s cover: orca whales calling, bears growling, seals playing, and birds chirping.

    This audio element became part of the campaign at the agency’s request and the Star made it happen by sourcing motion-activated sound devices from a Toronto vendor and facilitating communication between vendor and agency to ensure a high-quality sound experience.

    A street team installed the devices during an overnight blitz, and, once activated, the sound boxes brought an unexpected dose of BC to the Toronto streets.
  • The final element was an interactive ad on’s tablet app; users were transported to a BC ocean scene where they could prompt whales to leap from the water with the swipe of a finger.

This ambitious campaign came to life in the hands of a cross-country project team comprised of Star, agency, and vendor contacts. The group stayed in close contact throughout the planning process and members of the agency team flew from Vancouver to Toronto to witness the roll-out firsthand and celebrate a job well done.

Collaboration was the key to this campaign’s success. Early, open, and ongoing communication turned a traditional advertising approach into a multi-sensory experience for clients and readers.

About Lisa Boles

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