New ad campaign pushes anyone-but-Ford approach
There are some new mayoral candidates in town, and they’re entering an already-crowded field with some major promises.
One, Jeff McElroy, vows only to smoke pot if elected. No crack. Another, Ray Faranzi, says he’ll get drunk in public, but he won’t threaten to kill anyone. Jim Tomkins guarantees Torontonians he never gets caught urinating on camera. None of them, we should maybe clarify, have actually registered to run for mayor. In fact, they’re not even real people.
The signs, which were spotted across Toronto over the weekend, are paid for by No Ford Nation, a community organization led by local writer Christina Robbins. Robbins founded No Ford Nation as a Facebook page in 2011, well before the crack scandal came to dominate the conversation around Ford’s mayoralty. “Nobody had any idea what we were about to go through as a city,” says Robbins over the phone.
Now, No Ford Nation is taking a more active role in city politics, contracting ad agency Rethink Communications to roll out the anyone-but-Ford campaign citywide. “It’s a fairly unique opportunity,” says Rethink’s Caleb Goodman. “It’s not the sort of campaign we’d usually do.” (Rethink has recently done work for major corporate clients like Molson and A&W.)
For Robbins, the campaign underlines how any sort of sweaty half-schmo is still a more fitting mayoral candidate than Rob Ford. At the No Ford Nation website, the group has crafted a few cartoons based on Ford’s more scandalous public comments (like the infamous “I have plenty to eat at home” incident). The site also has information about Toronto’s other mayoral hopefuls.
“We’re completely nonpartisan,” says Robbins. And while that’s not exactly right—if No Ford Toronto isn’t biased in favour of one candidate, its certainly dead set against Ford—it sums up the group’s attitude.
“We’re a resource,” she says. “It’s a one-stop shop for people wanting to find out more about the candidates, for people who can’t necessarily stay on top of all the news.”
As far as Ford’s chances at reelection, Robbins thinks the mayor still has a fighting chance, despite all the scandal.
“I think that if he continues to say his stock lies over and over, people will start to believe it,” she says. “The fact that he does stand a chance in this election shows that we gave got a lot of reexamining to do.”