A new low in advertising? Never say never, but that Toronto billboard encouraging motorists to drive distracted is in fact a public-safety message.
“Text and drive,” the stark billboard urges in all grim all-caps. Courtesy of “Wathan Funeral Home.”
Those seeking to do business with the funeral home will be disappointed. The mortuary doesn’t exist. It does have a web site, however. Here’s what it says:
If you’re here, you’ve probably seen our “Text and Drive” billboard. And if you have, you probably came to this website to tell us what horrible people we are for running an ad like that. And you’d be right.
It is a horrible thing for a funeral home to do. But we’re not a funeral home.
The creators of the billboards — there are two in Toronto — work for the ad agency John St. The agency wanted to “contribute to spreading the word” about distracted driving, an executive said. Based on the news event’s Twitter reaction, it’s proving great publicity for the ad company as well.
“We’re just trying to get Canadians to stop texting and driving, which is projected to kill more people in Ontario this year than drinking and driving,” say the good folks at Wathan.
Fines for distracted driving in Ontario now range from $300 to $1,000 — with three demerit points vs. the driver’s license — under a law that took effect Sept. 1, 2015. The set fine for drivers who plead guilty is $490, plus the points.