Thursday, February 28

Obay: because I want to know

Now with nifty update! See below:

Yesterday while struggling in the wicked cold weather to keep a bundled-up toddler from getting lost in the public transit crowd, I saw my first Obay ad.

A camera would have been nice to have around - not that I would have been able to use it while trying to keep Bumper from bolting out of her seat on the bus, hold my bag, and I dunno, perform the basics like breathing. I can only imitate the farce of multi-tasking so much.

With fear of losing my grip on Bumper, I decided the best thing to do was memorize the ad to research later.

This is the one I saw (a public photo from The Obay Marketing Pool flickr group) but it was a smaller format inside the bus:
While no one around me on the bus seemed impressed by the ad (trust me, I asked), I was in awe.

Has anyone else out in the big, bad blogosphere noticed these ads and the reactions around them? I want to know.
Did they make you think?
Did you think they were silly or a joke?
Did you try to understand what they were "about"? I thought it was an ad for multi-vitamins at first glance. A really bad ad for multi-vitamins.

According to the Torontoist: the "maker" behind the fake drug Obay is Colleges Ontario and these ads were created in order to encourage dialogue about post-secondary education in Ontario and how some parents might be forcing their ambitions on their offspring.

My need to find out more is driving me crazy.

If anyone out there with links to stories about this please leave me a comment and link.

Odds are that Bumper will attend a post-secondary institution in this province so this subject is of great interest to me (whoa - she hasn't started nursery school yet, and I already have her building beer bongs with her fellow undergrads. Not that I ever did that.).

IMO, traditional ads turned upside-down and working outside the norm are dead sexy, but in order for them to work, the end result needs to equal or surpass the ingenuity of the campaign.

UPDATE: I received an email from my biggest fan (Hi Dad!) who found this and sent it my way. Quoted from the post Obay Phase Two Revealed (Torontoist):
"the Obay ads will be plastered with faux-guerilla marketing. The new stickers deliver messages to parents, such as, "Your kids should be allowed to make their own decisions, especially when it comes to their post-secondary education."
So this is what happens when you have a toddler to distract you from doing solid research: almost 40 years old and my Dad is still doing my homework.


SciFi Dad said...


I had not heard about this yet. I need to dig around the interweb and see what comes to the surface. I'll report back if I hit anything good.

Gabriella said...

I haven't heard about this; my first thought was it must be some sort of joke...I couldn't figure it out, vitamins. Strange

kittenpie said...

My feeling is this is one of those campaigns that will reveal itself in another couple weeks. I've also sen one about a son who has his own ideas and ambitions, but now has his father's thanks to Obay, and one other that I can't remember the wording of. I am sure curious, because they are pretty genius at getting a message across in an underhanded, sarcastic, and very pointed way. It speaks to a teen's love of sarcasm, while making the real target parent squirm a little.

Shannon said...

I saw one on a bus not too long ago. I pointed it out to my husband and we tried to figure out what it was "for". It is obvious that it's meant as a joke, but until I got home to the internet I obsessed over who would design such an advertising campaign and for what purpose. I think there should be a little more information on the ads. Imagine my surprise to find out that it originated right here in Ontario, where I live!

Kyla said...

Since I'm not in Canada (drat!) I've never seen them before. But I think it is genius and pretty damn funny, too.

Heather said...

Oh my gosh. I was shocked when I read the ad. I've never heard of the campaign before.

It certainly is a clever ad campaign.

Whit said...

That's a funny campaign.

I live in L.A., all of our ads are for movies or in Spanish.

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

I've never even heard of this before. That crap is messes up. Who is paying for all this as space?

Mandy said...

I'm out here in Vancouver, and haven't seen these ads yet. (Although I also haven't been looking for them either, being unaware of them 'til now.)

I'd have to say that the concept is interesting, but (based solely on the ad copy) I'd never in a million years make the leap from the ad to the idea of parents forcing post-secondary education on their kids.

nomotherearth said...

Sarcasm is my MO (I'm such a joyous person..) so I'm all for the campaigns. I didn't think it was about post-secondary at first though, I thought it was a statement about all the drugs we give kids who are "hyper" and "can't settle down".

something blue said...

I've seen another post on this but I cannot recall where. Also Krista (The Silent K) wrote about this recently. It's a great campaign.

b*babbler said...

Wow.. I'm so behind, but you've cleared up a mystery for me.

At least one thing got accomplished on this miserable, snowy, oppressive Saturday.