NL Tourism’s ‘real’ superboard

Commuters along Toronto's busy Gardiner Expressway have had something unusual to look at while stuck in gridlocked traffic lately.

St. John’s-based Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism commissioned artist Cam Mahy to paint a calm-inducing Newfoundland nature scene to get Torontonians thinking about an eastern getaway. Mahy spent three weeks crafting his masterpiece above the busy Gardiner Expressway.

‘Most people see the superboard as a static medium. Instead, we looked at it as a canvas – like a story that reveals itself as it goes along,’ says Noel O’Dea, president and director of strategic & creative planning at St. John’s-based Target, who adds that this is the latest execution building on the popular ‘Fresh Air’ platform.

‘The billboard was painted by a human, as opposed to being a digital vinyl panel,’ O’Dea continues. ‘It’s a very good metaphor for Newfoundland itself, because it’s an authentic, organic place rather than a plastic, manufactured one.’

The painting also reinforces the province’s creativity. ‘We’re a culture rich with artistic talent,’ says Carmela Murphy, director of tourism marketing for Newfoundland’s tourism, culture and recreation department. ‘The idea of actually painting a billboard really stands out and grabs attention.’

Murphy adds that it was a very strategic decision to buy a superboard along the Gardiner. ‘We’re hitting people at a time when they’re stuck in gridlocked traffic, and very receptive to the idea of getting away,’ she says.

The painted superboard will be up until mid-August.