After Public Funding Cuts, Could Books in This Canadian Province Be Sponsored by Brands? campaign amplified by Juniper Park\TBWA

Ontario's government cut library funding by 50%.

Can you imagine reading Oliver Twist and seeing an ad for oatmeal in the middle of the page? Juniper Park\TBWA painted a dark picture to draw attention to budget cuts to Ontario Library services.

Last month, Doug Ford, Ontario’s premier, and his government announced a 50% cut to library services in the province, a budget decision that resulted in layoffs and the immediate termination of inter-library loans.

Radio, newspaper and outdoor ads drove users to a petition started by Shauna Costache, public services supervisor at the public library in Stratford, a small city 90 miles southwest of Toronto, urging Ford and the Ontario Government to rescind the public libraries’ budget cuts. To date, more than 70,000 people have signed the petition.

The agency partnered with Costache to amplify the platform and audience that interacts with it.

Transit shelter posters featured classic, beloved books like Peter Pan, Oliver Twist, Rapunzel, Frankenstein and Alice in Wonderland, with intrusive ads in the middle of each page. An allergy medicine sponsored Peter Pan; an oatmeal brand for Oliver Twist; shampoo for Rapunzel; coffee beans for Frankenstein; and a teeth-whitening toothpaste for Alice in Wonderland.

If Handmaids in Gilead were even allowed to read, this dystopian campaign would fit right in.

Radio ads imagined how audiobooks would sound with product placements. In The Three Musketeers, the rallying cry “All for one, one for all!” leads into a pizzeria’s two-for-one large three-topping deal. The Wizard of Oz shilled homeowners insurance.

All ads ended with the same message: “If we don’t support public libraries, someone else will,” and directed residents to, which redirected to the petition.

“Public libraries are cornerstones for information, education and entertainment to every community,” said Graham Lang, chief creative officer at Juniper Park\TBWA. “This is a campaign that calls on Ontarians who share the same view and allows their voices to be heard.”

Amy Corr is a contributor to Adweek.