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Canadian Urbanism Uncovered

“Mobile” advertisement

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Telus ad - Media Merchants

During a routine Chinatown stroll on a Friday evening two or three weeks ago, I came across an unusual form of advertisement on the wall adjacent to the empty space left by the burnt-down building at the corner of St-Laurent and De La Gauchetière. I saw the familiar logo of a well-known telecommunication company, which then quickly shifted back to the sales pitch, lit on an otherwise blank building side.

Where could this come from, we wondered? After looking behind the wooden barrier, and at any window on the wall of the building on the opposite side of De La Gauchetière, we realized that the advert was projected from the van parked right under our noses!

Peter Lavoie, the man behind its wheel, told us that he worked for a Vancouver-based company called Media Merchants, hired by their client to drive around town and project the ads at various locations. The evening’s itinerary was to include places like St-Laurent & Napoleon, a few steps from Schwartz’s, as well as the highly frequented corner of Ste-Catherine and Crescent. Asked whether his company was allowed to project on walls that it did not own, Lavoie admitted that it was still a gray area.



  1. This should be illegal without the building owners permission. What bottom feeding douche bag came up with this idea?

  2. Yea I’ve seen this already on Ste. Catherine and on Rachel a few weeks ago. I noticed 2 people sitting inside a van with a projector sticking out the side while a car commercial played on the side of a restaurant. I wondered how long they stayed there, leaving the lights (and probably the heat) on in the car.

  3. There was an ad like that in Toronto last month on the side of the Spring Rolls/Goodhandy’s building on Church St. for BMW. I was really tempted to close the trunk of the van it was shooting out of as I walked by, but I’m not sure about how the sign bylaws treat it.

  4. Mike: I can’t speak for Montreal, but in Toronto, they’re illegal (in several ways).

  5. I saw one on rue Mont Royal a few weeks ago. I walked over and asked the man inside to at least turn off his SUV’s engine, but he told me it was necessary to keep it running to power his projector and laptop. His understanding was that he had the right to idle for as long as he wanted, “just like taxis do”. He also stated that he did not have — nor did he care to seek — permission of the owners or occupants of the building on which he was projecting.

    I shared with him my impression that his business was creating visual, light, and CO2 pollution, but he didn’t seem too worried. Come to think of it, it is a kind of cultural pollution, too.

    I wish the überculture folks would tackle this along with the ad trucks ( Would they have better chances for success?

  6. you people should relax, its not a big deal seriously.. you wouldnt say a word if a big billboard went up there because you are conditioned to seeing them.. let some innovation happen in this world.. advertising isnt’ going anywhere

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