‘WTF’ Are You Looking At, Asks Campaign for Toronto’s Museums and Historic Sites

Can you guess?

The city of Toronto is offering prizes as part of its "What the Fact?" campaign promoting local museums and historic sites to young people. Unfortunately, those prizes are passes to the museums and sites in question, which should squash any interest among the target audience. Kidding, of course. But my snarky intro illustrates a very real problem facing the client: How do you market museums to a fickle audience that basically lives online?

Its answer is a campaign in 100 area bus shelters and online, headlined by the slogan "WTF?" in bold letters. The ads show historic artworks, soldiers' uniforms and other exhibits, and invite people to go to Facebook and guess what each item might be. Correct guesses get you free passes, which will be awarded once the campaign ends on Sept. 10, when the artifacts' identities will also be revealed.

"We wanted to find a way we could reach out to the general public and ideally a younger audience," museum services program designer Ilena Aldini-Messina tells the Toronto Star. "We find that social media is a great way to reach out to that audience."

Kudos for embracing interactivity, and for the quasi-questionable "WTF?" headline, which has predictably ruffled some feathers in the Great White North and generated free publicity for the cause. According to Inside Toronto, the campaign has already been shared or commented on 1,200 times—though I'm not convinced that will translate into more young people patronizing local museums and historic sites in the long run. The youthful target audience probably plans to sell the tickets to get cash for beer and earbuds.