Amidst winning sports teams and boastful fans, Toronto is just one of many cities that have jumped on the “VS Everybody” T-shirts train. But with a city so culturally diverse and inclusive, why boast an “against everyone” mentality, when, instead, you could stand with everybody? Cory Eisentraut, Havas Canada VP, Creative Director, offers Toronto an alternative way to elevate its city pride. With the change of one simple letter: Toronto IS Everybody.
Can you tell us about your background and your role at Havas?
I started 17 years ago as a copywriter and then worked my way up at an agency, and I came to Havas just over two years ago. Now I’m leading the creative department; I’m the VP, Creative Director. My role is to connect anything creative-based in the Village.
Where do you get your inspiration?
Everywhere. The reality is, I’m a huge fan of cinema and a huge fan of music. Those two worlds are often at the forefront of where I find my inspiration. I’m very fortunate that Toronto is a hub for both music and cinema—the live music scene here is incredible. These two worlds are very vibrant. I probably even subconsciously draw some of my inspiration from that.
I read constantly. I like to be a student of business, so my Twitter feed is constantly updating me with all the trends. I don’t just fall into the pattern of advertising. I try to follow key influencers from fashion, cinema, and filmmaking. They’re constantly curating some of the most fascinating stuff. That’s how I stay current, and even ahead of what’s current.
What inspired this campaign?
It seems like every city now has co-opted this “Vs. Everybody” mentality. Detroit was the first city to do it. Not long after, Chicago and New York followed suit. It’s often coincided with the sports team. Toronto was right in line: “Toronto VS Everybody.” It coincided with our winning sports teams, growing rapidly. It felt weird. A creative director here said, “It just feels wrong, that a city like Toronto has this Versus clothing line. We’re not an aversive city—we’re an inclusive city. If you just change the V to an I, it makes all the difference in the world.”
It was this eureka moment. Of course, Toronto IS everybody.
We are a melting pot. It’s this incredible collection of individuals from all corners of the world. You’re likely to hear five to six different languages on the subway. There are enormous communities: Chinese, Greek, Italian, Spanish, African. Each one of them has its own culture, flavors, restaurants. It’s a very cosmopolitan, global city. It just felt to us that VS was wrong and IS felt right. We started designing the shirt and realized that the Pride parade was coming up. Toronto has one of the biggest Pride parades in North America. So, we created a rainbow shirt. We also realized that there’s a lot of negative sentiment building, particularly in the States but also in the world, with anti-Muslim feelings. So we created an Arabic version, that is replaced with the Arabic version of the word “everybody.” It’s just grown from there.
Who’s the target audience?
Really, there were two targets. We understood that the main target for the shirts would be Torontonians, or former Torontonians, who’ve moved away, between 18 and 40. Overwhelmingly, these are the people who buy and wear the original “VS” apparel. However, I think our audience has a slightly different mindset. They are more open and have a good sense of humor. Rather than following trends, they like to make a statement and show their consciousness proudly.
Why do you think it’s important that ad agencies, who observe and often shape and inform culture, support causes like this?
It’s a maker culture. If we see an opportunity to do something, we want to speak up and speak out. Once we figured out the mechanics of making the shirt and created a little e-commerce site, there was no reason not to do this. It’s sending a positive message. Particularly, when it comes to Havas, we like to believe in the “better together” philosophy. This shirt is a direct result of that. It just made sense—it aligned so beautifully with our own internal philosophy. It shows our clients how easy it is to make something. So often, we bring our clients ideas, and we have to roll up our sleeves. Too often, ideas die because clients think it is too expensive. With “Toronto Is,” we can show them: Look, this went from idea to completion in three weeks. If you have an idea, we can make it happen.
How does this campaign tie into Havas’ Together strategy?
Every day at Havas Canada we see how working together and being open has positive benefits. When our various discipline experts come together on a project, it always gets exponentially smarter and stronger. I think the same is true of Toronto. We are a city that has benefited from a welcoming and collective mindset. We know that so much more gets accomplished with open arms than with a closed fist. In an era when people around the world are trying to build walls that keep people out, I think both Havas and Toronto have it exactly right. The future isn’t about “Versus.” To us, the only way to get better is by working together.
Do you have any other plans for Havas Canada’s Toronto campaign?
There’s a big Arabic food festival coming up that we would like to leverage. We’re hoping to grow organically. We’re starting to see the shirts pop up in different feeds. We thought if we start pushing it out in ads, it betrays the feeling a little bit. As a social experiment, we want to see how far we can grow this brand without putting a huge media stand against it.
Toronto is a city of openness and Havas is better together. This idea was inspired by that philosophy. It felt right coming from us.
Anyone can purchase the shirts.