Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where the wild things (and students) are: Toad Hall Toys

All classes should involve puppets, robots, and fake mustaches.

Today, my first-year advertising class and I went to Toad Hall Toys in Winnipeg's Exchange District, so students could learn more about the store, the better to write their first 30-second radio ad for a real-life retail client.

The real reason: to look at, play with, and buy some cool toys when we were supposed to be in school. But I won't tell if you won't!

Toad Hall Toys is the most magical toy store in Winnipeg - from its heritage location, complete with swinging, wooden sign, to the homey, warehouse-style interior and supercool stuff on display: planes, trains, automobiles, robots, playsets, puppets, fish, candy, science experiments, dollhouses, and books, including every kid's favorite: Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species:

Darwin: "What am I doing here?"

On a day when you're feeling blue or want to get away from the everyday grind of life, Toad Hall Toys is a pretty great escape; you can spend hours there, and not be aware of the passage of time. Grown men have been known to walk in with purpose, on a tight timeline, only to be found six hours later in deep conversation with a ladybug puppet:

Part of Toad Hall's charm is - in this era of videogames and downloadable cell-phone apps - its undying loyalty to the retro charms of train sets, dollhouses, board games, and wooden and tin toys.

Check out these incredibly awesome wind-up tin robots:

And this equally great wind-up non-tin robot:

After an hour-long visit to the store, we returned to Red River College with our purchases; my students wrote their 30-second radio ads, while I had the much-harder problem of trying to eat a box of Gobstoppers without anyone noticing.

So, how do you sell a store with so much going for it in just 30 seconds on the radio?

Easy: you start with a fake mustache, and the rest takes care of itself.

Answering the question: whatever happened to Saddam Hussein?


  1. Ah the Toad Hall assignment. That takes me back to the Halcyon days when we had *days* to write *one* radio ad.

    If you'll excuse me, I'm off to build a new railroad to dinosaur land...

  2. Very cool! Looks like you guys had fun!


    (I found a 6-pack of fake moustaches at this cute little dollar store in Vacnouver this spring, and brought them home and made my entire family wear them for a family dinner that we had!! -- I looked like Ron Jeremy *gross*, and my sister looked like the Kokanee Ranger...MY mom just looked HILARIOUS, and my niece wanted no part in the moustance fun...One-year-old's, sheesh!!)

    Anyway, that was my pointless rant in the comment section of your blog for today...

    Can we have a moustache party in PR class?!?!

  4. I'm so disappointed I missed this!
    Stupid cold

  5. My Grandma Dorothy will love that picture....

    Seriously she will probably bake you cookies or something for posting it.


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