The Battle for Time - Week of May 8

May 16, 2016 Ophelie Zalcmanis-Lai, Content Editor

Imagine you're driving along the Gardiner Expressway (or maybe you're not actually 'driving' because of traffic) and a billboard with the words "Text and Drive" catch your attention. 

It's not a colourful billboard, nor is it particularly embellished, but you continue looking at it wondering why it's advertising the precursor to a $490-$1000 fine and three demerit points. 

Then your gaze settles on the name Wathan Funeral Home at the bottom. Your mind goes into a flurry. 

Pretty gutless message, huh. But that's the point - or is it?

This is what captured our minutes this week. 

Here's why: 

1. It was a real billboard located in two spots along one of the main arteries in and out of Toronto's downtown core. This was a face-to-face idea, not one born in the digital realm. 

The funeral home listed on the bottom of the billboard may be fake, but the billboard is not. It's huge, real and delivered a powerful message to passers-by. Reactions ranged from outrage to confusion to full-hearted support. 

2. Its stark design made the point clear. In the expression economy, simplicity wins because it drives the point home without being flowery. No flashy colours, no elaborate font. Just a black and white theme, with a simple serif font that spells out a serious (and morbid) message.

This is simplicity in its best form - no skirting here. 

3. It blew up on mainstream media. We can rant and rave all we want about digital overcoming the aging dinosaurs known as newspapers and TV, but those dinosaurs still mean something because people still seek them out.

From dailies like The Toronto Star to news channels like CP24, everyone was delivering the scoop on these billboards and the billboards became huge because of it.   

So all in all the billboard's simple design, frank delivery of a harsh reality and its exposure within mainstream media justifiably made Wathan Funeral Home's "Text and Drive" billboard the winner for the Battle for Time. 

Hats off to our friends over at john st. for expertly executing this message. 

At the end of the day, people engage with content by lending their minutes. Content is successful when its battery is fully charged with attention. 

What will win this week?

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The Battle for Time - Week of May 8.