Mysterious Ads for “Obay”

by Joey deVilla on February 15, 2008

Weird ads for a product called “Obay” have been popping up all over Accordion City for the past week:

Ad for “Obay”: “My son had ideas of his own. Obay put a stop to that.”
Click the photo to see it on its Flickr page.

It’s obvious that the product doesn’t actually exist and that it’s some sort of viral marketing campaign. As for what the campaign is meant to promote, most people with whom I’ve spoken to about the ads think that it’s some kind of jab at parents who are following the disturbing trend of medicating their teenage kids out of normal teenage behaviour and into Stepford adolescence.

One person on the TorCamp mailing list wrote that a colleague doing consulting work for a nearby college says that it’s an ad campaign for Ontario colleges.

I suppose we’ll find out soon enough.

Ad for “Obay”: “My son used to have his own hopes and aspirations. Now he has mine. Thanks, Obay!”
Click the photo to see it on its source page.

Have you seen these ads?

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

A. Nony Mous February 20, 2008 at 11:32 am

Shepard Fairey, perhaps?

(google it.)

Me February 20, 2008 at 4:50 pm

They have these ads in Toronto. I saw one on a bus the other day and was trying to figure out what it was for.

Mar February 20, 2008 at 4:53 pm

“Education Reform” advertisement being used to launch “Education Reform”. Next week we will see phase two.
Yes, this advertisment has gotten our attention, but at what cost.
Mind control with our children is a dispicable thought, I don’t care who is using it as a gimmick, hook,spoof or hoax.
If in fact it is our Education System, shame on them.
I believe the Agency “Think Tank” was brought up being babysat by Homer Simpson, Family Guy and South Park.
Perhaps they should be living in a country where people are truely not allowed to think for themselves, just to try it on for size.
God bless Canada, where you can speak freely.

Aron February 20, 2008 at 8:09 pm

If anyone really wants to know what this is all about check out this thread in the UnFiction Forum.

barefoot4life February 21, 2008 at 9:48 am

Yeah I thought it was a faux product but I see them all over DRT buses, I sure would like to find out the true meaning of this ad

Tom February 21, 2008 at 11:45 am

These ads look like they were design by someone with a “University Stoner Hippie” mentality. You know the kind of guy who wears a Che Guevara shirt to express his individuality, even though 1) everyone is wearing them and 2) Guevara SHOT individualists for being enemies of the state.

But the idea that parents and other authority figures impose rules in order to “suppress independent thought” rather than to protect and teach manages to find traction with every generation.

David Topping February 21, 2008 at 12:45 pm
yarick February 21, 2008 at 5:16 pm

yo this was so scary, cuz my mom noticed and told me that she gonna go get them meds she seen on the billboard. I’m relieved to know that this OBAY will not be added to the extensive list of antidepressants my parents make me take every day!

Chelsey February 21, 2008 at 5:50 pm

ya i seen these on the bus going home from school one day…..
i think they’re really weird and want to know where they’re comming from

sumi February 22, 2008 at 6:15 pm

Whoa, I guess I wasn’t the only one. I’m a teenager myself, so when I saw those ads on the subway, I freaked. I stared at the ad for nearly half an hour trying to figure out what it was about. In the end, I just figured that with all the craziness in the world today, it wasn’t that surprising. Plus, all I had to do was make sure my parents never saw that ad, how hard could it be, the ad is just on hundreds of public transportation vehicles. But I have to hand it to the person who came up with the ad, it’s the most brillant thing since sliced bread.

Arun Jacob February 22, 2008 at 7:26 pm

Have a look at the website

and then have a look at the presentation by David Pincott, Head of Media Relations, Edge(UK):

It only makes sense…

Ole February 26, 2008 at 3:48 pm

I love the fact that a lot of these ads are on opposing sides of Viagra ads and the like. Whatever it is actually for, the conversation its envoking is great!

Brain Washing February 27, 2008 at 4:01 pm

I have seen these stupid ads for OBAY…why because I said so……what in the world are we doing….how come we are allowing these people to place adverstisements that are insulting to the human race.

I don’t know about you….But I sure know with my experience and research that NO NO NO medicine will help with this “condition” (whatever there talking about). Because I say so……I really think these people need to obay policy when it comes to putting this stuff in peoples environment, this is offencive and obscene….Do they think where stupid.

Abdul February 27, 2008 at 6:43 pm

Its been informed that this advertisement is a FAKE.

It was a teaser ad by the government to make parents realize that forcefully making students do what parents want em to do is in humane and wrong.

Governmentally funded of course, municipal most probably, and targeted by bus since the larger demographic of adults are found in public or near public transport, WERE FREE! And i really hope parents that are stupid to do what my parents are doing (Forcing their youth to do something they don’t want to) to stop doing what they do.

If you seen current Ads, they have a yellow page posted saying something like this

“Luckily Obay is not real, sure we want the best for our children but when it comes to post secondary school students should have the freedom to choose, discover your possibilities at”


ana February 27, 2008 at 9:06 pm

The ads are a comment on beliefs that “quality” post secondary education means university in particular, and that colleges fall into a lesser class of education. Colleges Ontario is trying to inform the public that this just is not so, and that students (and their parents especially) should not consider university as the only option for post-secondary education. In fact, there are many more job opportunities for college graduates taking a specialized program than there are for students with a general bachelor of arts degree from university.

I think the main point of the ads is just to tell parents that perhaps the “dreams” of their son or daughter becoming a lawyer or doctor need to be seen as not the ONLY respectable educational avenues.

Sandhu February 28, 2008 at 2:28 pm

They have finally reveled the site, and have finally revealed phase two of their campaign.

Jennie McKenzie March 10, 2008 at 10:42 am

This reminds me of the cartoon with a billboard that says “Ritalin: So Much Easier then Parenting!” and the wonderful satire “The CHILD Disorder” at
Take a look!


Tammzz April 5, 2008 at 6:50 pm
Cezzie October 16, 2008 at 5:55 pm

I just noticed a add today for the first time.

I live in Thunder Bay Ontario. I was riding the transit on the way to College. I usually notice most ads, this is the First Obay as I’ve seen. This could also be due to the fact i regularly just stick to one buss, and for the most part centralize in one area of the city. Perhaps we’ve gotten the campaign here later?

knew at first sighting, this has to be some sort of social movement or satire. I couldn’t image who has created the ad, I’m surprised and comforted to find this sort of neat approach is done by the colleges.

I’m happy to be a student in the program I choose, I paid a lot of my own way right off the bat.
It boggels my mind how many young people waste their parents money, their own time, to take a program and drop out of it. For goodness sake, at least finish the year and get some damn good grades to show for yourself ehh!

Wallace February 28, 2009 at 1:59 pm

Come on people,..Wake up!…..This add is a comment on how far off coarse the medical community is. Some doctors and most Pharmaceutical companies are committing crimes by marketing psychotic drugs to people who don’t need them. The world is under siege by Pharmaceutical companies and lobbyist for those companies. Someone with a lot of knowledge and a lot of money is trying break the cycle of madness by encouraging the world to think for itself and stop allowing lawmakers and drug companies to think for you and tell you what you need….

Wallace February 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

These pharma companies now own our doctors all over the world…and if people don’t wake up now it is only getting worse….nine out of ten shootings in by suburban teens in America is now committed by someone who is taking Zoloft, Prozac and other anti depressants. Pharma cos want your money…And they don’t care if they have to take your life to get it…

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