Thursday, July 16, 2009

Culture: Free Stuff in the City

TORONTO, ONTARIO - One of the joys of spending time in areas of a large city with substantial pedestrian traffic is that marketers see opportunity in such concentrations of people. While canvas advertising may be the most common--and most annoying--result, there is always the possibility of free stuff being handed out. For example, the area outside the Rogers Centre--particularly on the days of Blue Jays games--sometimes brings out giveaways. A recent Coca-Cola Zero giveaway was just the thing after a morning of physical labor volunteering at the John Street Roundhouse across the street.

Today, I was probably equally tired and equally thirsty as that Coke Zero giveaway day as I started walking toward Union Station through Toronto's Skywalk. As I walked along, I thought I noticed quite a number of people with popsicles in their hands. That looked like a pretty good idea to me, and I wondered where they were selling such things. Getting closer to Union Station, it seemed to me that a higher percentage of people walking the other direction seemed to have the pink popsicles.

At the Great Hall in Union Station, I took the stairs to the lower level as is my practice except at the height of rush hour. I wondered if that would be the end of the popsicle trail, as they might have been coming from something on Front Street or even Bay Street. Instead, I found that just about everyone on the lower level had a popsicle. Clearly, I was getting close, and I started looking around for the source. I entered the GO Transit concourse, finding more people with popsicles, but no unusual activity. I turned down the vendor lane at the west end of the concourse just to see if the giveaway was there, and saw nothing. So, I decided to head for my destination, the subway.

Exiting the Union Station building, I found the scene. A number of marketers were handing out the bars in the outdoor section between the TTC subway station and Union Station proper. While I was walking against the flow of traffic, one of them found me and gave me the free treat. It turns out that they weren't popsicles per se, but Del Monte Frozen Fruit bars, apparently paid for by Del Monte and Visa. I had found the free stuff.

The bars definitely were frozen. Noting how solid they were, I decided to put mine in my bag and have it when I exited the air conditioned subway that I was about to enter. Sure enough, by the time I started walking out of the subway station, it was just starting to melt, and was a great treat. Free stuff in a big city is a great thing.

1 comment:

Wilson L said...

I can't believe I missed all that. I did get the free Coke Zero on Thursday but I walked in a different direction on Friday.