Toronto Public Library opens up in new awareness campaign

Who: Toronto Public Library, with LP/AD for strategy and creative, and Ukrainian illustrator Elena Kirilchuk, and Cundari for media.

What: “We Open Doors,” a new brand platform and awareness campaign inviting Torontonians to return to the library after the pandemic, and reminding them of the breadth of its services.

When & Where: The campaign is live now until the end of the year, running across print, digital, out-of-home (including TTC), and in branches. “We Open Doors” will be used in campaigns throughout 2023.

Why: Like so many public places, TPL faced closures and reduced service periods during the pandemic. But now everything is open and all services are back. “For a long time, we haven’t talked to Torontonians broadly about what their library has to offer. And we thought the timing was good because we’re back,” said TPL’s CMO, Linda Hazzan. “We’re also speaking to people who may not have been in a library for quite some time, or used our services, and reminding them that there’s much more to it than they think.”

More than books? Soooo much more. It has become a virtual essential service for those without digital access at home, and introduced a wide range of programs and services—including free live tutoring for kids from Kindergarten to Grade 12, and librarians going out beyond branches to work within Toronto Community Housing, for example, while other services like settlement workers are in branches.

Without TPL, many people in the city run into a digital divide, which can make it difficult to look for and apply for jobs, and access other social services, said Hazzan “One of the recent numbers that we got is 56% of the people who use our technology have no other access to that technology,” she said. “Without the library being open and being available, they don’t have access. It’s these kinds of things that really make a difference to not only people’s individual lives, but the success of the recovery of the city.”

How: The campaign is build around a series of eight different brightly coloured ads. Along with the headline “TPL: opens doors” open doors shine a light on the various services offered by TPL, with accompanying copy to explain the offering.

“We really wanted something that was going to attract people’s attention and surprise them a little bit,” said Hazzan. “We wanted to make sure that the creative reflected the brand, which is welcoming and dynamic and relevant.” TPL introduced its new visual identity in mid 2019, but never got to roll it out into a major campaign because of the pandemic.

TPL also wanted to spotlight some of those offerings and services that people may not have associated with the library in the past. “So the idea of a sewing machine, or the idea of a 3D printer, or the idea of different groups of people coming together within the library,” said Hazzan. “We want it to be able to reflect that as well and—at a glance—for people to think ‘Oh, that that’s not exactly what I thought.'”

And we quote: “We wanted people to get excited about their library. The more people know about their library…  the better and more successful all our communities will become. The opportunity to help spread that message across the city is the type of impactful work agencies live to do.” —Sasha Zaprudska, managing director, LP/AD


David Brown