Mysterious Refrigerators in Toronto

Imagine if this happened in Boston?

Empty fridges suddenly popped up in the financial district, causing puzzled looks from passersby.

[...]

Security personnel weren't impressed.

When security got wind of the stunt, they arranged to have the fridges scooped up.

By 3 p.m., they were all gone.

No word on who the "security personnel" were. Police? Building guards? Canadian secret agents?

If this were Boston, there would have been a media frenzy, ridiculous statements by public officials, and prosecutions of those responsible.

EDITED TO ADD (10/11): Press release.

Posted on September 21, 2007 at 12:34 PM • 37 Comments

Comments

MikeSeptember 21, 2007 1:04 PM

"If this were Boston, there would have been a media frenzy,"

Well considering this is to promote the annual Thanksgiving (up here is Oct. 8th) food drive** for Daily Bread Food Bank, I'm sure they were hoping for just such publicity.

Well, maybe Bruce will be enough...

** Not to be confused with the annual Christmas, Spring, Victoria Day or Labour Day Food drives....

:|

Pat CahalanSeptember 21, 2007 1:20 PM

> People would open the fridge door, look
> inside, then close it and walk away stunned.

Stunned? Or just confused? Probably just confused...

At any event, much more reasonable than freaking out and calling the bomb squad.

Ed T.September 21, 2007 1:27 PM

Actually, if it had happened in Boston, they probably would have put the entire STATE under lockdown, and pre-emptively NUKED each and every one of the "hoax devices".

~EdT.

PeskieSeptember 21, 2007 1:33 PM

@Andre LePlume
> They should have removed the doors.
> Think of the children, people!

The original article says:
"The fridge doors could swing open, but as a safety measure they were rigged so they couldn't latch shut."

crystalatticeSeptember 21, 2007 1:34 PM

Because of the paranoia of security people these days, it seems like companies (especially the marketing people behind these stunts) would notify the local authorities prior to doing this campaign. That way the cops would expect reports and be able to act in a more rational way. (Of course, it doesn't mean they will act rationally, just that they are better informed).

Perhaps a better solution is to require companies that want guerrilla marketing campaigns to apply for a permit from city hall. You have to do it for protest marches, parades, and other things that will affect the local population, so why not a "security risk" marketing campaign?

John DaviesSeptember 21, 2007 1:53 PM

"The fridge doors could swing open, but as a safety measure they were rigged so they couldn't latch shut."

I've never seen a fridge whose door latches shut. All the ones I've seen here in Europe have a magnetic strip that holds the door closed. It works fine and easily openable from the inside if you're a curious child.

What do you Americans put in a fridge that needs the door to be latched shut?

TGSeptember 21, 2007 1:55 PM

> What do you Americans put in a fridge that needs the door to be latched shut?

Why Europeans, of course!

MilanSeptember 21, 2007 2:13 PM

I just hope any old CFC-based fridges used in this publicity stunt will have the coolant properly removed and disposed of, rather than left to leak slowly into the atmosphere in a dump somewhere.

Stephen SmoogenSeptember 21, 2007 2:15 PM

Latching refrigerators were very common up until I think the 1960's in both Europe and the US. The marketing deal was that the latch made sure you had a tight seal so you wouldnt lose coolness and be more efficient as this was the biggest electricity burner in a house.

The big problem was that a lot of places had no way to deal with dead refrigerators so they would just dump them somewhere (drive out from the city, find a field and drop them there at 2am in the morning.) The fridges would just stay there and kids would find them years later (in the 1970's and 1980's this happened a lot) and play in them (coolest Tardis evar!). Then the door would latch shut and 20 minutes later you had a dead kid.

This caused all kinds of lawsuits and people actually having to send a dead fridge, washingmachine, etc to a place that would basically tear it down into scrap metal versus dumping it. It also made sure that you had to have some sort of anti lock mechanism.

AnonymousSeptember 21, 2007 2:32 PM

I see an issue for hunger and being able to reach out to those that can give generously,

I do not see a security issue.

I believe a simple message displayed inside the frig could have communicated a stronger hunger issue.

brian tSeptember 21, 2007 3:47 PM

I have a sneaky feeling that this has something to do with the band Rush: originally from Toronto, and they're playing the last date of their North American tour there, on the 22nd. The reason I think this is to do with Geddy Lee, the bassist: he has no amps behind him, so he fills the gap on the stage with weird appliances, like tumble dryers, a vending machine, and (this tour) a rotisserie oven with chickens cooking inside... 8)

LukeSeptember 21, 2007 4:16 PM

Building guards. (I think the same private security companies you have in the US but the guards are not as paranoid - might be different if we're ever attacked. Usually all they have to do is chase the skateboard kids on weekends and keep the homeless out of the buildings.) Police here wouldn't have involved themselves with this sort of thing unless it affected street traffic or someone got hurt.

We wouldn't have secret service downtown. If it required security at a federal level, there would be RCMP officers posted not local police. The American consulate is around the corner from one of the fridge landings and the only visible security I've ever seen have been the RCMP.

markSeptember 21, 2007 4:32 PM

All this talk of "Hoax devices" makes me recall the lyrics of the punk classic song by the Stiff Little Fingers, "Suspect Device."

Snippets:
"Inflammable material is planted in my head
It's a suspect device that's left 2000 dead
Their solutions are our problems
They put up the wall"
....
"They take away our freedom
In the name of liberty
Why don't they all just clear off
Why won't they let us be
They make us feel indebted
For saving us from hell
And then they put us through it
It's time the bastards fell"
....
"Don't believe them
Don't believe them
Don't be bitten twice
You gotta suss, suss, suss, suss, suss out
Suss suspect device"

noname nonumberSeptember 21, 2007 5:13 PM

I can understand the Guerrilla marketing aspect and think it's pretty neat. But wouldn't it have been more effective if information about the Daily Bread Food Bank was inside the fridge? That might have prevented any security (over)reaction at least.

Chris SSeptember 21, 2007 6:47 PM

From the followup press release at http://www.newswire.ca/en/releases/archive/... the following quote would appear to indicate a fairly media savvy group.

"We can only assume that the individuals who removed the fridges are as concerned about hunger in the city as we are and like us want to put an end to empty fridges everywhere."

FrancesSeptember 21, 2007 10:02 PM

My guess is that "security" were the police who arranged for the city to pick up the refrigerators. The city does pick up old appliances by arrangement and uses special trucks with hoists to do the job. We'll probably find out in tomorrow's paper.

al-oneSeptember 22, 2007 3:49 AM

I need a fridge if they worked I would have taken one. Of course you know nobody overreacted because a fridge is a happy thing while a student is needy thing tolerated at best.

SteveJSeptember 22, 2007 5:01 AM

Is it possible that "security" was just a city waste crew? Here in the UK, the name for leaving a refrigerator unattended in a public place isn't "guerilla marketing", it's "fly-tipping". If you leave it in a hedge in the middle of nowhere, it might be days before it's removed. If you leave it in the business district, I would not be in the least surprised if it was gone the same day.

MarkSeptember 22, 2007 12:13 PM

@SteveJ
> Is it possible that "security" was just a city waste crew?
> Here in the UK, the name for leaving a refrigerator unattended
> in a public place isn't "guerilla marketing", it's "fly-tipping".
> If you leave it in a hedge in the middle of nowhere, it might be
> days before it's removed. If you leave it in the business district,
> I would not be in the least surprised if it was gone the same day.

Since refrigerators are now considered "hazardous waste" you have to pay for their disposal. The unintended consequence of this is more "fly-tipping", both from people who don't want to pay and crooks who take people's money and don't dispose of them properly.

MarkSeptember 22, 2007 12:14 PM

@SteveJ
> Is it possible that "security" was just a city waste crew?
> Here in the UK, the name for leaving a refrigerator unattended
> in a public place isn't "guerilla marketing", it's "fly-tipping".
> If you leave it in a hedge in the middle of nowhere, it might be
> days before it's removed. If you leave it in the business district,
> I would not be in the least surprised if it was gone the same day.

Since refrigerators are now considered "hazardous waste" you have to pay for their disposal. The unintended consequence of this is more "fly-tipping", both from people who don't want to pay and crooks who take people's money and don't dispose of them properly.

JakeSSeptember 22, 2007 12:43 PM

@Mark: No, it surely was an *intended* consequence, in that it was an obvious consequence and the UK authorities were warned of it beforehand, but went ahead anyway. The only plausible inference is that they actually *wanted* to have old fridges dumped all over their country.

EamSeptember 22, 2007 8:47 PM

Re. comreich's link:
Did you have a look at the comments section in that article? It's a bit terrifying how many people think the police reacted appropriately.

Direct link to the comments:
http://wbztv.com/topstories/...

Looks like the inmates are running the asylum in Boston... and pretty much all of the United States from what I read these days. Not that we're doing too much better here in Canada.

FrancesSeptember 23, 2007 9:09 PM

Well, you don't have to pay to have refrigerators picked up in Toronto. The city picks them up but you do have to notify them to get them to come.

bobSeptember 24, 2007 6:37 AM

Now that we know people will walk up to an untended fridge and look inside, how long will it be before some terrorist (foreign or domestic) with a sense of humor sets out a fridge with explosives rigged to the door opening?

That's mature...September 24, 2007 11:13 AM

@Basil: "That's because WE DON'T SUCK!"

That's mature and intellectual. I wonder if you're one of those people who say things like this left and right, and then whine like a little pooch if anyone from the big bad USA blinked at you or your country wrong.

Probably...September 24, 2007 11:19 AM

@Bob: "Now that we know people will walk up to an untended fridge and look inside, how long will it be before some terrorist (foreign or domestic) with a sense of humor sets out a fridge with explosives rigged to the door opening?"
___________

That's easy -- accuse them of overreaction and paranoia if a bomb technician takes a look at it, then accuse them of not "connecting the dots" amd sending a bomb technician if one blows up.

Hindsight is 20/20. Which makes for a good hammer to beat people with. After all, people can always take what they know after the fact, then say what they would have done before the fact had they been in charge.

Gail NybergSeptember 24, 2007 1:09 PM

As the executive director of Daily Bread Food Bank I find all of this talk about our empty fridges exciting. It means they did exactly what they were intended to do-get people talking. Now I wish it was people in Toronto, but I am sure the Greater Boston Food Bank could use the help too!

Matt from CTSeptember 24, 2007 8:57 PM

Welcome to the height of liberal idiocy.

Why do we wonder why our governments are dysfunctional -- when we have food banks more excited about old fridges and publicity then feeding people.

Making good decisions, and taking positive actions mean nothing -- it's how good of theater you put on.

And before anyone asks what do I do about feeding the hungry, I spent two hours yesterday preparing the addition to my garden that will expand what I grow for local food banks.

Maybe I should just start randomly throwing trash around town instead though -- I guess I've been mistaken all this time, it's theater and not actions that are most important.

FrancesSeptember 24, 2007 9:55 PM

C'mon, Matt, food banks can't feed people if they have no food. To get the food they need publicity!

VasigixNovember 15, 2007 2:08 PM

"Maybe I should just start randomly throwing trash around town instead though -- I guess I've been mistaken all this time, it's theater and not actions that are most important."

What the world wants is "action theater." Name the one thing that the terrorists (those in the so-called War on Terror) have in common.

Besides that!

Yes, folks. If god did not exist television would have invented it.


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