Clients fly in to new Billy Bishop expansion

OOH advertising was front-of-mind when designing the airport's new underground tunnel, says Ports Toronto CEO Geoffrey Wilson.

For consumers, Billy Bishop’s new underground tunnel, which connects mainland Toronto with the island airport, represents a more convenient way from point A to point B (avoiding the thought of having to swim if they miss they ferry).

But for clients that signed on to be the first to be featured in the new space, it’s much more than that.

The new tunnel, which descends 100 feet down and 853 feet across, was designed both with commuter experience and advertising front of mind, says Geoffrey Wilson, CEO, Ports Toronto.

The advertising placement strategy was developed by Toronto’s Black, which will also handle sales. The agency’s team designed the ad boards in the space to be at scale with the people using it, with no ground-level displays taller than eight feet and all signs along the movator at eye-level.

A neutral palette chosen for the walls and the screens are spaced in a way to draw maximum attention to ads, Wilson notes, adding that the overall feel is meant to be that of a “canvas” for messaging.

BMO, Land Rover and the Royal Ontario Museum are among the partners signed on to advertise in the tunnel for its launch, with 10% of inventory being held back to promote the airport and Ports Toronto.

Scott Stewart, managing director, Maxus Canada, handled the deal with BMO, and said being able to be first was one of the appealing pieces of the project, noting that it’s not always possible to reach the airport’s high-income demo in a cost-effective way.

“This was an opportunity to create something versus buy something,” he says. “We were doing tours through there with steel boots and hats on. We had the opportunity to hand-select and create the advertising experience there. This gave us the opportunity to target downtown business travellers in a more cost-effective way than other airports. A lot of times the airports have global deals and are priced higher for category exclusivity.”

About 68% of people who fly through Billy Bishop Airport are under the age of 45, with 56% being university educated and an average household income of $118,924.

Advertising placements in the tunnel include large wall-mounted and freestanding LCD digital video walls on the billyAppmainland side, LED skyline displays through the tunnel and freestanding interactive multi-media touch walls inside the island-side atrium. It takes about 12 minutes to walk through the new tunnel.

An app called Billy will join those offerings later this month, with flight and weather information coupled with a lifestyle magazine featuring original, syndicated and sponsored content aimed at travelers going through Billy Bishop. There will be a mix of pieces that are focused on one destination city in particular written by local experts, as well as more general lifestyle content aimed to feel like people are discovering something new.

Rae-Ann Fera, editorial director at Black, says that there’s an opportunity to capture the attention of travelers with the app, because of the lack of other entertainment options in-and-around the airport and the short haul flight times for people coming and going from Billy Bishop.

Black will also be using the app to push out sponsor and travel messages through a network of beacons, as well as tracking use of the new tunnel and sending those details back to Ports Toronto to improve flow and guide future developments.

Wi-Fi for the tunnel is also in development, with sponsorship and interstitial advertising opportunities available.