Reviled city-wide for its uncanny ability to break into your trash bin, the raccoon has at least one admirer in Toronto.
Island airport-based Porter Airlines yesterday introduced "Mr. Porter" — a stylized raccoon — as a central part of the burgeoning company's identity as its sets itself up for a fall launch.
The company calls the raccoon a "smart and cheeky creature" in a news release, adding "Mr. Porter infuses the brand with charm, wit and an element of surprise."
Tyler Brûlé, the Winnipeg-born mind behind the London-based creative agency Winkreative, says he's fully aware of the raccoon's status as an urban pest, having lived in Toronto for a few years.
"Everyone from the BBC to nature channels have done documentaries on the success of raccoons in the urban environment in Toronto," Brûlé says. "For better or for worse, it's an animal that has become the city's unofficial mascot.
"We like the idea that the animal is cheeky and won't hesitate to snap at its competition."
Brûlé said the raccoon furnishes Porter Airlines with a mascot that says "Canada" while avoiding the ubiquitous maple leaf.
The raccoon will be the star of the ad campaign to promote Porter Airlines Inc., which will begin scheduled service this fall to short-haul Canadian and U.S. destinations using Toronto City Centre Airport as its base.
No start date has been announced, but the company wants to begin with 10 round-trip daily weekday flights to Ottawa, the first of 17 destinations it has identified.
Air Canada Jazz got a bite taken out of it this year when it lost access to the island airport terminal just as Robert DeLuce, president of Porter Airlines, was forming the regional carrier.
City Centre Aviation Ltd., which operates the airport on behalf of the Toronto Port Authority, decided to renovate the terminal used by Jazz. City Centre Aviation is owned by Regco Holdings and DeLuce.
Now Air Canada Jazz is negotiating with the Toronto Port Authority to return to the downtown airport. Air Canada Jazz wants to fly 10 round trips on weekdays to Ottawa and seven to Montreal beginning Aug. 28, but must first sign a new operating agreement.
Mayor David Miller and nearby residents, however, oppose Deluce's plans and argue control of the island airport should be wrested from the port authority.