Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fun With Subway Stations

So I'm at the Bloor-Yonge station yesterday. There were about 50-60 Western Union ads lining the walls, all of which featured a smiling man and a big 'Yes!' headline. Ok, seems simple enough....the guy is happy about Western Union. Good for him. But like I said, there were several dozen of these ads up, so I couldn't help but take a closer look at one as I walked through the station. In the lower right corner of each ad, it notes the pitchman's name, and what a name. Turns out I was way off base in assuming it was just some generic ad sir, Western Union had spared no expense, and instead had hired the services of Filipino celebrity Cesar Montano!


I kid you not, he was actually billed as 'Filipino Celebrity' Cesar Montano. Looking at the man's resume, indeed he is a big wheel in the Filipino movie world, so Western Union wasn't lying. But the concept of putting his name on the ad fascinates me. Presumably the ads are targeted at Toronto's Filipino population, who would see them and say, "Hey, if Western Union is good enough for Cesar Montano, then it's good enough for me!" much in the same way that I react to Telus ads. ("Ha ha, a jumping goat! I'll buy ten phones!") But since Filipino people know who Montano is anyway, why bother with adding his name to the posters? Seems a bit redundant to me. Nike didn't add a big arrow with a LOOK, IT'S MICHAEL JORDAN caption to any of their iconic MJ ads.* Did Western Union want to brag about their big-time endorser to Toronto's non-Filipinos? They even had his signature on the ads, in case we thought it was a Cesar Montano impersonator.

Spooky footnote to the story: I actually wanted to write down Montano's name and the general details of the ad, since I felt I'd end up posting about it. So I found a slip of paper and took out one of the pens I had on me...and it was a Western Union pen. Zoinks! Montano's influence is so great that it had affected me before I had even seen the ad. Now that's a true celebrity. A Filipino celebrity, at that!

* = Though my friend Lori might have preferred if they did. We were once having dinner at a sports bar under a huge poster of Jordan dunking over some schlub. Lori asks who the poster is, and I almost fell off my chair. Now, obviously she knows who Michael Jordan is and what he looks like, but here was her excuse: "Oh, I didn't recognize him with his tongue out." Amazing. That's like seeing Paul McCartney but not recognizing him since he wasn't carrying a guitar.


The artwork and decoration that went into the Museum subway stop is very cool, and something that other stations around Toronto should emulate. Let's face it --- subways are drab. Not even the smiling face of Cesar Montano could brighten up Bloor-Yonge. But as Museum has shown, every station should have some kind of theme design based around the general traits of its neighbourhood. Shrubberies should be growing from the walls of High Park Station, and clovers from the walls of St. Patrick Station. Dalton McGuinty should be personally greeting passengers as they exit the train at Queen's Park. (This has the bonus of keeping McGuinty out of trouble.) Castle Frank should just feature huge posters of the Punisher as far as the eye can see. Jane Station can take that motif a step further and actually shoot you as soon as you get off the train. Finch Station, likewise. Kennedy Station, likewise.


The work on College Station can start immediately, since they need to move ASAP to get that bizarre mural of the Montreal Canadiens off the walls. WTF, College Station? Is this some kind of sick joke? Was I hallucinating? Why does a Toronto subway station have a mural devoted to the Maple Leafs' most hated rivals? Even worse, College Station is the subway stop closest to old Maple Leaf Gardens. Conn Smythe is rolling over in his grave.

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