Cannes Lions

Truth Boxes

LEO BURNETT, Toronto / TORONTO STAR / 2024

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Overview

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Overview

Background

BACKGROUND:

An increasing number of Canadians, especially younger generations (18 to 34-year-olds) are now consuming their news almost exclusively through social media and free online platforms. This trend has been compounded by a prominent rise of misinformation and a subsequent lack of trust in more traditional Canadian news organizations, resulting in a steep drop in subscriptions to their affiliated local newspapers, including the Toronto Star, an established, trusted, and recognizable presence in Canada.

OBJECTIVE:

We needed to reintroduce the Toronto Star to the people of Toronto, and Canada, and remind them that nobody reported on and investigated the city like it does. Our goals were to:

1. Increase overall subscriptions to The Toronto Star’s channel, reversing YoY downward trends.

2. Drive traffic to The Star’s digital properties, slowing down YoY declines.

Idea

We modified seven newspaper boxes into “Truth Boxes” to shine a light on current topics that resonated with Toronto citizens’ (and Canadians’) everyday lives: Gun Violence, Climate Change, Lack of Accessibility, Privacy Violations, Obesity Care, Economic Uncertainty, and Teen Vaping. Each box was shaped according to the topic it talked about, instantly attracting attention and interaction from Toronto's citizens.

Scanning the QR code on each box took users to an article about a topic related to the modified box and connected to the location where it was placed. It also encouraged each person interacting with it to subscribe to the Toronto Star.

Strategy

Our target was Toronto’s citizens, especially younger generations (18 to 34-year-olds) who now consumed their news almost exclusively through social media and free online platforms. But with a prominent rise of misinformation and a lack of trust in traditional Canadian news, subscriptions were dropping.

We realized that rebuilding trust with a younger generation meant showing up new and different. So we decided to bring back our oldest, most nostalgic and recognizable asset — the blue newspaper boxes that used to live on every street corner. These boxes stood apart from digital news media on every front — they grabbed your attention and stopped you in your tracks instead of letting you scroll by, and most importantly, they didn’t disappear like ephemeral content. They stood there, day after day, revealing the important local stories Toronto’s citizens needed to know, and react to.

Execution

We turned seven old newspaper boxes into “Truth Boxes”, each one inspired by topics that deeply affected Toronto’s, and Canada’s, citizens. These boxes were then placed all over downtown Toronto in areas relevant to the news stories they represented. The boxes got the attention of locals, leading to a large number of them scanning the QR codes and resulting in a significant spike in subscriptions to the digital edition of the newspaper.

Outcome

The boxes not only renewed interest in the Toronto Star but also successfully drove subscriptions, extending their role in younger consumers' lives and actively helping them to engage with our content.

· By the end of the first month of the campaign, subscriptions spiked +33%.

· Month-on-Month subscriptions steadily climbed following the campaign leading to a rise of +40%.

· The Star successfully overturned the steep decline in non-subscriber website traffic and saw a steady increase of +25%.

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