When does a storefront become viable for marketing purposes? When it's in a high profile commercial district and there is no tenant paying rent. Take a look at a new storefront 'billboard' that has appeared in the Coffee Culture building at the corner of Elmwood and Bryant. It's an advertisement for the Red Bull "Crashed Ice" - Ice Cross Downhill World Championship to be held in Niagara Falls Canada on December 1, 2012. Apparently the space has been leased and a new tenant will be opening up before the end of the year, so why not use the storefront as an advertisement in the meantime?
As far as I know, this is the first real attempt to advertise on a vacant storefront in the city - professionally done that is. Obviously this is a way for a storeowner to make a few bucks on a temporary vacant space until the right tenant comes along. In some cases, these types of 'billboards' could actually draw attention to storefronts, considering the appeal of the imagery.
The downfall of such an advertising gimmick is that sooner or later we might see unsightly lawyer advertisements appear (or worse), which already detract from districts such as Elmwood (case in point the lawyer billboard on top of the Cantina Loco building at the corner of Elmwood and Allen). It's bad enough that we are forced to see ugly-looking advertisements on buses and on buildings... not we might be faced with the potential blight on storefronts.
In this particular case, I think the Red Bull advertisement is pretty cool - better than a temporarily empty storefront. The question is, "Who deems what sort of ads are acceptable, or does anything go?"