Mazda Canada’s all-new MX-5 RF retractable fastback, a sophisticated hard-top convertible, was set to launch just prior to the annual Toronto Auto Show.

We needed to drive awareness of the launch and get urban, affluent car enthusiasts to think about Mazda during the category’s most highly competitive time of the year.

At the same time, the larger, longer-term brand mandate was to continue to push quality and technology/innovation perceptions of the brand, which had long been considered more fun-to-drive than well crafted.


The first of our key insights came from the product itself. As a roadster with uncommon styling, the MX-5 RF had the ability to catch the discerning eye of our target. This car was a head turner.

Our second insight came from the category. While OOH was a medium of choice, particularly in urban centres, executions tended to be just pictures of cars. They showcased the product, but it didn’t really engage the viewer in a meaningful way.


Melding our product and category truths with our understanding of where to find our target, led us to create “Turning Heads,” an innovative, interactive video-wall billboard in the heart of Toronto’s Financial District (right near the Auto Show).

Using a combination of crowd detection and facial recognition technology, the billboard – which played a :15 loop of the roadster driving and displayed in a studio – created a real-time, odometer-style tally of the number of heads that turned to look at our ad in a simple headline that let the car be the star.

Notably, this initiative marked the first time that our partner Pattison’s webcam technology had been applied to show data in the live environment (rather than for internal reporting purposes).


With “Turning Heads”, we took a medium intended to deliver a one-way message and morphed it into an opportunity for both meaningful brand engagement and new model awareness.

Discovery Channel’s “Daily Planet” show featured the billboard in a segment, as well as being featured in the Globe & Mail and on the front page of AdWeek.

The billboard was named one of AdWeek’s top 6 Digital OOH boards.

Black screen with Mazda logo and the words HEAD TURNING that looks like a speedometer.
Underground mall, people walking past a Mazda billboard saying # of heads turned so far.
Billboard in underground pathway fo Mazda saying # of heads turned. Man in a suit facing the billboard.
Image of Mazda billboard in underground pathway. 14568 Heads Turned so Far. A man walking one direction in front of it, in the background. A blurred image of a woman in the foreground walking the other way in front of the bill board.
Image of Mazda billboard, with car on road, 14414 Heads Turned So Far is printed at the top. Two men walking side by side, walking in front of the billboard. Their imaged are blurred.

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