Garbage? We Want It!

The words “viral video” and “municipal government” don’t usually go hand in hand, but the City of Toronto took a bold step with the new municipal online recycling ads they are using. With professional improv actors, Mike “Nug” Nahrgang and Marty Adams, and a cheeky, infomercial-spoof format, the videos get the recycling message across in a way that’s surprising and completely zany. Two garbage guys, Chuck and Vince, and their inspired goofiness inject a genuinely funny tone to hard information that’s green and planet saving.

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The creative approach brought media attention to the spots.  Toronto Life Magazine weighed in on the ads this way:

For the humourless, the city goes to great lengths to explain why these commercials are funny…

The city used Toronto advertising firm Publicis Canada to create the ads, which air on the city’s website and YouTube channel. Marketing Magazine writes about the campaign below:

Pat Pirisi, creative director at Publicis Toronto, said the goal of the spot was to get away from the expected, dry fare so often associated with municipal advertising campaigns.

“We just wanted to do something that was a bit funnier and edgier than people might expect,” said Pirisi. “We wanted to have some fun with it, to reflect the city’s sense of humour.”

In a statement, City of Toronto spokesperson Pat Barrett said, “We felt these spots would delight our audience and inspire them to act.”

Delighting and inspiring is a tonic to lessen the inexorable green-fatigue that can set in while browsing boring cardboard info-handouts we get through our mail slots. What numbers are okay to put in the blue box again? And what do I do with this old computer? The offbeat way of communicating the message, along with well posted web addresses, may actually help the Toronto community to dispose of recyclable and hazardous goods in a safe way. It certainly attracts attention to the issues.

My only wonder is why hide these spots online and on YouTube? Broadcasting the spots would bring an even wider audience for these nutty guys and their essential message.

If you have old electronic items gathering dust check out toronto.ca/ewaste. For information on why we need to recycle our electronic items—not just so you stop tripping over them in the hall— check out Recycle Your Electronics. From the site:

Unwanted electronics shouldn’t end up in landfills. Most of the parts – steel, glass, copper, aluminum, plastics and precious metals – can be recovered and made into new products. Also, lots of electronic equipment like computers, printers, and televisions can be reused, further cutting down on waste.



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