United Way makes an #Unignorable change to the Toronto skyline

Who: United Way Greater Toronto and Taxi, with Array of Stars for app development, 3D renderings by Norm Li, and KPMB for architectural consulting.

What: A new multifaceted fundraising campaign that illustrates the size of the poverty problem in Toronto. The big idea here is “The Unignorable Tower”—a striking data visualization of the scale of the problem that uses an AR-driven mobile app to virtually insert a new tower into the Toronto skyline. To house the 116,000 people in the Greater Toronto Area facing housing insecurity, the tower would need to be nearly three times the size of the CN Tower.

When & Where: The campaign launched this week, with the app going live for both Google Play and the App Store. There are also a number of real-life executions connected to the idea, including outdoor AR activation stands at key vantage points around the city, a scale model in the city’s financial district, and “notice of development” outdoor boards typically found outside the many construction sites around the city.

Why: This is the United Way’s big fundraising time of year. The challenge is breaking through and connecting with people who ignore the problems around them.

A year ago, Taxi came up with the #Unignorable campaign that included creating a new unignorable colour. Developed with the Pantone Color Institute, the colour was a symbolic way to capture the attention of people not paying attention to some of the large and intractable social issues tackled by the United Way. The focus this year is on poverty in the GTA, and Taxi needed a new way to deliver an #Unignorable message.

How: When users download the app and hold it up to the CN Tower, the Unignorable Tower is inserted into their view. The image can be shared on social.

The genesis of the Unignorable Tower was the powerful revelation that Toronto is the poverty capital of Canada, said Alexis Bronstorph, Taxi’s executive creative director. “We started digging into that a little more… that’s what led the team to want to create the tower,” she said. Bronstorph and her ECD partner Kelsey Horne have also also been asking their teams to embrace data in more creative ways. That data starting point and creative directional push took them to the Unignorable Tower. “If you had to visualize that data, imagine how big that building would have to be.”

Why an architectural firm? “We wanted to legitimize it… How big would it actually be,” said Bronstorph. “There was a lot of real math.”

Show your work: The Unignorable Tower represents 116,317 units with an average size of 700 sq. ft. With a footprint of approximately 410 ft x 410 ft, each floor contains 240 units for a total of 484 storeys, taking the tower’s total height to 1,480 metres.


David Brown