<body> Public Ad Campaign: September 2008
This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mia Nilsson | Levis 501 “Live Unbuttoned” Art Wall

Point made. The intersection of Street Art and public advertising negates all of Street Art's power to communicate individual messages and instead champions the market as the only voice worth listening to.

from Hypebeast Luis Ruano

Two years in the making, Levis found their creative mind to showcase his/her artwork at a wall in Stockholm. With the help of Vice Magazine, a list of 200 contributors was narrowed to the winner, Mia Nilsson. Her illustration can be seen at Grevturegatan 8, on a 5 X 11 meter wall for the next couple of months. Following an inspiration of childhood memories, Mia’s Levis 501 campaign showcases a nostalgic experience of kids trying to be cool in their 501’s.

See more at Mia Nilsson | Levis 501 “Live Unbuttoned” Art Wall

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illegalbillboards.org Finding Plenty

I help run a site called illegal billboards which tracks illegal signage in the city and New York's Department of Buildings efforts to combat this ongoing problem. Over the past few months not only have we located a plethora of illegal signage in the city but also flagrant disregard for the Sign Enforcement Unit and the DOB in general. (380 Canal Street) Often valid complaints of illegal public advertising billboards are served by the DOB in an effort to have the landlord remove the illegal signage and the result is absolutely nothing. I have found that many illegal billboards stay up well over a year after the determination by the DOB and the landlords fully ignore the cities request for thier removal in order to continue to make profits. This is yet another example of the public advertising industries disregard for the public's wishes and thier control over how public space is being used and or abused.

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White On White Project

This is the 5th White on White piece located on the NEC at 11th street and 1st avenue . My good friend works across the street at Momofuku and thought I'd make his evenings a little more interesting. More Here

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Banksy and Colossal Media

At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, I have some things to say about the Banksy/Colossal Media "collaboration" which went up a few days ago on Wooster and Grand streets in NYC. Street Art and Graffiti have always been not only artistic acts, but political ones as well: challenging popular conceptions of how, and by whom, the public environment is utilized. The criminalization of these practices over the past 30+ years speaks to the top down control of public space, which seeks to define the terms on which our public spaces are used. The privatization of our public environment, including the walls of our buildings, has placed our shared environment out of reach of many in an effort to diffuse competitive uses of those spaces. Graffiti and Street Art should be understood as just such a competitive force against the determined efforts of public advertising to prevent all other unsanctioned visual uses of the public realm. To say that a collaboration like this between Street Art and the public advertising world "takes the air out of this works impact" is an understatement.

On top of this general complaint, Banksy ironically uses the I NY campaign created by Milton Glaser and promoted by the Association For A Better New York (ABNY) which was in many ways interested in removing the stigma which Graffiti had attached to the city in some of our darker economic times; Though things just might get worse now than they did back in the late 70's. Maybe we can let this one go since Banksy's not from around here, but New York street artists should be aware of the fact that the criminalization of Street Art and Graffiti was promoted by those agencies like the ABNY who were responsible for this benign slogan which tried to clean up, and helped to cover the true images of New York that many young Graffiti artists were trying to reveal.

See Taking the Train by Joe Austin and Branding NY by Miriam Greenberg.

I must add that Colossal Media is one of the less intrusive outdoor media companies, often painting their murals as opposed to using the more profitable vinyl signage, as well as working directly with street artists as pictured.

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Friday, September 26, 2008

White On White Project

This is the latest White on White piece located on the NWC at 36th street and 10th avenue . Exit art was having a show on protest posters from 1960 to today and I thought it made sense. More Here

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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poster Boy Takes On The World

As per usual I'm not happy that the ads these images manipulate are still shining through the creative voice of Poster Boy, but when I think of all the ads that were destroyed to make each of these pictures I do get a warm fuzzy feeling deep inside my heart.

Via Animal New York

The underground, subway ad remixing artist known as Poster Boy has been on a bit of a rampage lately after taking a brief hiatus. In a new series of alterations, the culture jamming artisan takes shots at the media, fast food, bad shows on Fox and even gentrification—in one instance giving a movie poster for Nicholas Cage's latest box office bomb Bangkok Dangerous a much more fitting facelift considering a certain Brooklyn neighborhood's increasing popularity. Collaborator Aakash Nihalani rejoins Poster Boy, attacking the insides of subway cars too. Click below for the creative cluster of constructive vandalism.

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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Add-Art is now Firefox 3 compatible!

We all know advertising will find its way into our lives some way or another, but that doesn't mean we can't try and hold back the tide as long as possible. The internet is a space I'd rather not give up just so I don't have to look at advertising, and now you don't have to.

Add-Art is now Firefox 3 compatible!from The Anti-Advertising Agency
Steve Lambert

Great news; Add-Art, the Firefox browser extension that replaces ads with art is now Firefox 3 compatible. The extension blocks advertising and replaces it with art images that change every two weeks. The art comes from contemporary artists and curators - read a review from Rhizome.

If you’ve been waiting for Add-Art to work in Firefox 3, now is the time to update.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Thinking In Pictures-Temple Grandin

"Thinking In Pictures" is an essay written by Temple Grandin about his ability to visualize his thoughts, largely believed to be a result of his mild Autism. He literally thinks in pictures. The article has little to do with public advertising, but one example which he gives to describe the associations he makes between words and images made me think about how we all have strong visual components attached to words and ideas. In this quote he writes about how he understands text not through the meaning of the words themselves but through the visual associations that the text triggers.

"The following sentence from a story in the February 21, 1994, issue of Time magazine, describing the Winter Olympics figure-skating championships, is a good example: 'All the elements are in place-the spotlights, the swelling waltzes and jazz tunes, the sequined sprites taking to the air.' In my imagination I see the skating rink and skaters. However, if I ponder to long on the word "elements," I will make the inappropriate association of a periodic table on the wall of my high school chemistry classroom. Pausing on the word "sprite" triggers an image of a Sprite can in my refrigerator instead of a pretty young skater."

In the last sentence he comments on how the word "sprite" triggers the image of a Sprite soda can in his mind instead of a pretty young skater. To some degree because of his autism, the image of a Sprite can is more readily available to him than what a sprite actually is, a small fairy or elf. In Temple's case the fact that visual associations are the only way he really processes the meaning of the word "sprite" makes this association all the more upsetting because he in many ways can't get back to the true meaning of the word. For someone without autism and the need to visually associate images with content, the word "sprite" should recall fairies, the actual meaning of the word. But when thinking of my own experience I sometimes find myself making similar associations. I too see the Sprite logo when I hear the word sprite or think of computers when I read apple. In fact, sometimes we don't even know the actual word but will know the brand, as in the case of "chevron" for me. I know they sell gas but wasn't aware that the word can mean "an ornament in this form, as on a molding."

The same happens in reverse. If I read Hershey's, I think chocolate. The two words are inextricably linked in my mind. As we let branding run loose in our heads and coerce its way deeper and deeper into our thoughts, I suggest we take a moment to think about how much this affects us.

At best advertising becomes unintentional thought manipulation every time we interact with it. If we must live with this fact, shouldn't we give ourselves the choice of how much of this commercial world we are forced to swallow? And is it absurd then to demand that these unimportant pieces of information not be forced on us in public where we have no choice but to insert them into our language and our very way of thinking?

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Friday, September 19, 2008

White On White Project

This is the latest White On White piece located on the NE corner of 8th street and 1st avenue. It was posted around 7:00pm on 09-18-08 right before I went to eat Ramen. More Here

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Is It Monday Yet? Updated

A while back I posted about an NFL street advertisement made of AstroTurf and adhered to the street level postering frames which have sprung up around the city after laws went into affect prohibiting postering on the wood paneling that wraps construction sites. The "Is It Monday Yet?" campaign was removed quickly by residents looking to make use of the material. Another issue was that these "posters" often fell off the wall under their own weight. In a terribly crass way the company who originally posted these AstroTurf ads has used this misfortune to their advantage. (let us not discuss thier intentionality here) The new advertisement, which was put up in place of the fallen ads, makes the actual public interaction with these ads a part of the language which draws you back into this advertisement. Suddenly the advertisement is no longer a part of the ad, but rather the social interaction which happened due to the ads posting becomes the center of attention. As a viewer you engage this material off balance because the message is not in the forefront. Because this ad has become about the public and its interaction with this ad, and not the advertisement, it is approached without skepticism. In fact the ad itself is left almost fully out of the picture and you are left conversing with what almost seems to be another person, an artist or resident who needs to have your attention. All the while the green grass and thoughts of Monday night football dance around in the back of your head.

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Art Dies For Advertising

The top image is the way this corner used to look back when WK Interact had his work all around this neighborhood and one could enjoy his art freely. A few years back the piece was painted over and replaced with a painted advertisement which then gave way to the large freestanding signage you see now. I have long pondered how public advertising can be viewed as more than urban blight or manipulative images coercing your subconscious day in and out. How can we understand public advertisement to be an alteration of the politics of public space? My usual answer has to do with the problems that arise by generally commodifying the public space. By giving real monetary value to the sides of our buildings and the walls which surround us we legitimate them as a commodity to be bought and sold. Once something becomes a commodity, the ability to profit from that space becomes a given right and to not take advantage of that right seems ludicrous. If on the other hand that space remains "valueless" the motivation for its use completely changes. Now that space is an empty canvas from which money cannot be gained and therefore becomes something that can be given away without the owner feeling like they are loosing anything of value. When something has no "value", people will find their own way to give it meaning. This is seen in the work of WK Interact, but also can be seen in the myriad of public murals which adorn our city, often painted by people from within the community in which the mural exists. Public schools often take advantage of this opportunity and develop relationships with local building owners to procure space on which the children can paint and thus connect to their neighborhood. Physical connection to ones community is an amazing way in which people build psychic connections to their neighborhoods. If public advertising can be seen as even a small factor in the disconnect between residents and their public environment, it can, and should be seen to be in direct conflict with our intended use of our public space.

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Nike Park Tokyo Controversy

This is just another flagrant example of corporate desires trumping the needs of the residents of our great metropolises. It is one thing to allow our private/public institutions, like sports stadiums, to be renamed and thus branded by corporate iconography. Its another thing to imagine the last vestiges of our public environment being coded by corporate identity and therefore made to conform to the usage that private institutions will require once their name is attached to such a space.

via Hypebeast by Eugene Kan on 9/18/08

In a move considered controversial by many, Nike Japan recently purchased the naming rights to a central park in Tokyo within the Shibuya business district. Originally named Miyashita Park, the run-down space was largely reserved for a small population of 34 homeless people. However with the transfer of rights to Nike to create Nike Park, the homeless people will be required to find a new space. Among Nike’s plans are to create a skate park with cafe which will require an entrance fee. Although allowing companies to buy the rights to certain landmarks is not uncommon in Japan, the eviction of a homeless community has raised questions regarding the power of the dollar and resulted in the “Keep it Miyashita” campaign. In addition commentary from local skater Daniel Pulvermacher over at his blog YWS outlines the pros/cons of this move by Nike.

Source: YWS, The Observers, Global Voices

See more at Nike Park Tokyo Controversy

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Advertising wont solve economic problems for NYC

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by Steve Lambert

Another bad deal to trade public space for money from The New York Sun:Council Member David Yassky of Brooklyn is calling for the city to begin allowing advertising on municipal trash cans and suggested that such a move, which he estimated could bring $2.5 million in revenue, would help during difficult economic times.

“We need to be as creative as we can about finding sources of revenues to ease the burden on taxpayers,” Mr. Yassky said yesterday. “We sold advertising on newsstands and bus shelters and other so-called street furniture. There’s just no reason not to extend that to trash cans.”

Mr. Yassky’s push for trash can ads is the latest in a series of moves to expand public advertising, a lucrative source of income for the city. Council Member Melinda Katz introduced legislation last year that would allow advertising rights to be sold for construction sheds and scaffolding, many of which are currently covered with illegal posters. The bill, which has more than 30 co-sponsors, has not been brought to the floor for a vote.

Ad Sales Seen as Answer to City’s Economic Woes - September 15, 2008 - The New York Sun

2.5 million sure sounds like a lot of money to help with these difficult economic times, but let’s look at what the residents of this city get when Council Members like David Yassky and Melinda Yatz hand over public space and city property to corporations. NYC’s budget for 2009 is $59,100,000,000 and putting ads on trash cans would raise 2.5 million. Since those numbers are so large, I created a visualization:

It wasn’t easy to create a chart for this because the 2.5 million amount is so relatively small. It’s that dot down at the bottom if you can’t find it. It’s not a lot of money.

Additionally, the city can’t afford to shoot itself in the foot anymore after making billion dollar deals with CEMUSA to put ads all over town. They’ve since been tied up in courts with advertising bandits FUEL outdoor, who have placed illegal signs all over the city. When FUEL was called on it, they claimed the city was in the advertising business themselves (citing the CEMUSA deal) and therefor in a conflict of interest. As brilliant an argument as it is sleazy.

Regulating illegal activity to capitalize on it wont make the city more livable. Council members Yassky and Katz need to remember, people don’t want more ads. They want trees. Times Square is nice to visit, but no one wants to live there. If the city wants to make money, enforce laws against illegal advertising, increase the fines, and make a more livable city at the same time.

If the city wants to make some real money, they could make billions if they’d expand their current plan and increase parking meter rates. Selling public space to advertisers is not the answer.

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Found this on the AAA site. I always love a cover up.

courtesy of Difusor.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Avenue C Mural Covered By Advertisment

Who the fuck authorized this!

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Nielsen And NeuroFocus Alliance

This is a small blurb about the new alliance between the Nielsen Company and NeuroFocus, an innovative leader in neuro marketing research. I think it's worth the read to better understand the lengths to which companies are going to understand consumer behavior and better control the responses. Behavioral psychology grew up hand in hand with advertising and it's no wonder they will hold hands into the future by way of "...electroencephalography (EEG) technology to directly measure the brain’s reaction to a variety of stimuli." Yikes...


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Saturday, September 6, 2008

White On White Project

This is the latest White On White piece located on the SW corner of Spring and Bowery. It was posted on 09-05-08 at 6:30 before I went to a talk on Street Art at the New Museum. More Here

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Making What's Plausible Probable

Carrie Lambert-Beatty talks about the role activist art plays in defining alternate realities even when the art may not be able to make those realities happen. I find this quote a compelling argument for my continued actions in spite of the illegality and uncommon methods used.

"By providing opportunities for belief-however fleeting, and no matter how stymied-such tactics of plausibility provide especially rich, emotional experiences of 'what-if.' The art of the plausible works to edge an imagined state of affairs from the merely possible to the brink, at least, of the probable."


No freedom of speech on billboards - even when you can pay.

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by Steve Lambert

Billboard Co. Says No to Soldier Portraits in St. Paul

A billboard company has canceled its contract to display one of photographer Suzanne Opton’s portraits of active-duty soldiers on an outdoor space in St. Paul, Minnesota, site of the Republican National Convention. Opton, a New York-based photographer, shot her “Soldiers Faces” series at Fort Drum, in New York State, between 2004 and 2005, with the permission of the soldiers and their commanders. Having exhibited the portraits in galleries around the U.S., this year Opton launched the “Soldier Billboard Project,” a program to display the images on public billboards in five U.S. cities.

One of her images was to go on display on a billboard in St. Paul last, but CBS Outdoor, which controls the space, canceled the contract. In an email sent to Opton last week, CBS Outdoor Executive Vice President of Marketing Jodi Senese wrote, “The reason we have advised you that we cannot post these as billboards is that out-of-context (neither in a museum setting or website) the images, as stand-alone highway or city billboards, appear to be deceased soldiers. The presentation in this manner could be perceived as being disrespectful to the men and women in our armed forces.”

Each portrait in Opton’s series is a close up of a soldier as he rests his face on a table.

In August, Opton’s photo of a soldier who had served 120 days in Afghanistan was displayed on a billboard in Denver, site of the Democratic Party’s convention. The Denver billboard was arranged with support from the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. According to a press statement from Opton, other soldier billboards are planned for Houston (with help from DiverseWorks ArtSpace), Atlanta (Atlanta Contemporary Art Center) and Miami. The “Soldier Billboard Project” is supported by funding from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

“We have every intention of moving forward with our plans,” said Susan Reynolds, curator of the Billboard Project.

The nine images that make up “Soldier Billboard Project” are on view at www.soldiersface.com.

thanks Alice Arnold

More on billboards denied for anti-war content:

Minnesota ant-war video billboard
“All your arguments about (free) speech are ridiculous”
2004 - Group sues over anti-war billboard and wins (er, settles)

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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Notes On Attention and Meaning Creation

In this excerpt from Hugo Munsterber's, The Photoplay: A Psychological Study, written in 1916, we can begin to understand the psychological effects of public advertising on our experience of our public environment. If the way in which we create meaning out of the world is by what we pay attention to then our creativity and individuality would be best served by a lack of involuntary attention manipulation. Advertising's ability to hold our attentions while we try to focus on what we as individuals consider important about the space we are moving through is a theft of our consciousness. The fact that we grant public advertising permission to steal our ability to focus on those sights and sounds we voluntarily would like to pay attention to is a tragedy.

"Of all internal functions which create the meaning of the world around us, the most central is the attention. The chaos of the surrounding impressions is organized into a real cosmos of experience by our selection of that which is significant and of consequence. This is true for life and stage alike. Our attention must be drawn now here, now there, if we want to bind together that which is scattered in the space before us. Everything must be shaded by attention and inattention. Whatever is focused by our attention wins emphasis and irradiates meaning over the course of events. In practical life we discriminate between voluntary and involuntary attention. We call it voluntary if we approach the impressions with an idea in our minds as to what we want to focus our attention on. We carry our personal interest, our own idea into the observation of the objects. Our attention has chosen its aim beforehand, and we ignore all that does not fulfill this specific interest. All our working is controlled by such voluntary attention. We have the idea of the goal which we meet to this selective energy. Through our voluntary attention we seek something and accept the offering of the surroundings only in so far as it brings us what we are seeking."

"It is quite different with the involuntary attention. The guiding influence here comes from without. The cue for the focusing of our attention lies in the events which we perceive. What is loud and shining and unusual attracts our involuntary attention. We must turn our mind to a place where an explosion occurs, we must read the glaring electric signs which flash up. To be sure, the perceptions which force themselves on our involuntary attention may get their motive power from our own reactions. Everything which appeals to our natural instincts, everything which stirs up hope or fear, enthusiasm or indignation, or any strong emotional excitement will get control of our attention. But in spite of this circuit through our emotional responses the starting point lies without and our attention is accordingly of the involuntary type. In our daily activity voluntary and involuntary attention are always intertwined. Our life is a great compromise between that which our voluntary attention aims at and that which the aims of the surrounding world force on our involuntary attention."

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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Newsstands of Tomorrow Get Mixed Reviews Today- NY Times 08-30-08

Cemusa, the Madrid-based advertising company, recently began installation of street furniture under a 20-year contract with the city of New York. The installation includes bus shelters, magazine stands and pay toilets which over the life of the 20-year contract will bring the city upwards of a billion dollars in revenue. I have been relatively unphased by this because it changes little about the amount of advertising in the city, though the bus shelters advertisements now rotate bringing you twice the ads, and the magazine stands have taken ads to heroic new sizes.

Regardless I have had my attentions other places until I read this article in the New York Times. Glen Collins writes "Before 2003, newsstand operators paid the city a licensing fee, but owned and paid for their newsstands and, under certain circumstances, could sell them. Now the newsstands are owned by Cemusa, and operators pay a two-year city license fee of $1,076....New operators will pay Cemusa a one-time fee of $27,000 for their newsstands..." This would all be fine and dandy if the old newsstands hadn't been in many cases "...confiscated without any compensation..." from their previous owners.

What we are seeing in this article is commercial ad revenue, which is at the heart of this matter since it is what has driven Cemusa to so kindly install millions of dollars in street furniture in an American city, walking over public space. Under the assumption that the Cemusa street furniture brings "...a unique, iconic look, and brings a positive, coordinated feel to the streets.", Bloomberg has co-conspired with Cemusa to steal the cities control of our public environment and give it to a company willing to share a small amount of the ad revenue it will generate by stealing that space. This billion dollars we are making over the next twenty years is what has allowed the city government to steal and to turn a cold shoulder on many of its residents' needs while pandering to the wishes of a billion dollar corporation like Cemusa and should be seen as the culprit. Without commercial money "funding" our city facilities we would never be in a situation where we can so blatantly neglect the rights of our citizens.


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      Sharon Zukin
      The Cultures of Cities

      Miriam Greenberg
      Branding New York

      Naomi Klein
      No Logo

      Kalle Lasn
      Culture Jam

      Stuart Ewen
      Captains of Consciousness

      Stuart Ewen
      All Consuming Images

      Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
      Channels of Desire

      Jeff Ferrell
      Crimes of Style

      Jeff Ferrell
      Tearing Down the Streets

      John Berger
      Ways of Seeing

      Joe Austin
      Taking the Train

      Rosalyn Deutsche
      Evictions art + spatial politics

      Jane Jacobs
      Death+Life of American Cities