<body> Public Ad Campaign: March 2009
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, March 31, 2009

Just Another Saturday Night

I'm In the midst of planning a large project and therefor have not made much of my own work lately. It was bothering me last Saturday night and so I rummaged through my studio for some materials to quickly put something up before I went out. Turns out I had some vinyl letters lying around and so I quickly put together this little subway moment. It's not much but doing something like this regularly keeps me sane.

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Cutting Up Advertisements and Rearanging Them is Just Plain Fu

I know this photo is blurry and I don't have imagery of the final product, but trust me this guy was re-working that Adventureland poster with his headphones on. He was completely oblivious to the world around him, and was working like he thought what he was doing was legal. I quickly realized the desire to rearrange the space around you is inherent in many peoples public persona. The fact that subway advertisements are now stickers has made that process incredibly easy and I think the reason for the recent wave of ad reworkings, and of course the work of PosterBoy.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

I received the following email from Faith 47, an amazing artist working in Cape Town. A lot of her work is community oriented and made for the public rather than herself. If this anti-graffiti by-law were to pass, it would prevent her from creating her work and enhancing what might otherwise be a bleak environment. Please sign the petition.

hi there....

we are facing a new anti-graffiti by-law in cape town which takes away the house owners rights to give permission for any artworks on their walls besides a house number.

The new, proposed graffiti by-law makes no distinction between vandalism and public art that is done with the permission of the owner of the property.

Please can you assist us in our efforts to amend this by-law by signing the petition and forwarding it on...
As we need to present it to the council during the public participation process.

thank you, here is the link and below are the details of the two points in the by-law that we would like to amend.

To: The City of Cape Town

The new, proposed graffiti by-law criminalizes all forms of public art and violates our personal right to freedom of expression on private property.
It makes no distinction between vandalism and public art that is done with the permission of the owner of the property.
The by-law will soon be presented for public discussion and these are the two main issues that we feel need to be addressed:

1. The definition of ‘graffiti’ under the by-law is too broad. It classifies ‘graffiti’ as any inscription, word, figure, letter, sign, symbol, sketch, picture or drawing. There should be a clear differentiation between ‘graffiti vandalism’ [e.g. gang tags, scratchings] and public art that is done with permission from the owner [murals, colourful characters and positive, inspiring messages].

2. The by- law removes the legal right of the private property owner to paint anything other than a house number on his/her wall. We strongly believe that the private property owner should maintain the right to determine what to paint on to his/her property without permission from the City.

if you agree with these two amendments please sign the petition on the link above
and hopefully we can adjust the by-law to become a more inclusive one and thus limit the damage it can potentially do to the creative growth of our city.

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Tackling Illegal Signage in the Digital Age

La has a moratorium on digital and supergraphic signs, which means any signage that goes up that wasn't there yesterday is illegal. This makes it very easy for residents to help spot these eyesores and report them to the city. The fact that no authority needs to determine the new signs illegality allows the city attorney's office to act immediately. In fact, the city attorney's office has setup a website where residents can report illegal signs directly to them, and skip over any red tape, or other offices which might slow down the process of serving these law breakers.

Despite there being no similar moratorium in New York, a web form which allowed residents to report illegal signage would be very helpful here as well. Often when I call in violations to the DOB through 311, my description of the billboard is recorded incorrectly and or I have an image I would like to include. In an effort to alleviate the burden the Sign Enforcement Unit has, web forms with image attachments would allow the team to determine some billboards legality without leaving the office.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

MOMO Maker Series

I don't usually post random street work that doesn't directly relate to advertising in some way. This exception comes because of my long appreciation for MOMO's work as well as the quality this piece has taken on over its long life on the street. Plus it's still the weekend.

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Corporate Sponsored Pothole Repair!

We all pretend like this is some magnificent act of altruism on the part of KFC, aiding our poor city governments in times of need. The fact of the matter is this is cheap advertising and logo placement. If KFC wanted to help the city they would just patch the potholes and move on. Ironically, an act of quiet benevolence would not go unnoticed and KFC would probably be greatly rewarded with good press and customer loyalty.

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by

Guest post from AAA Reader James Ewert:


A certain greasy chicken franchise is adding another item to its menu: pothole patching. In Louisville, KY and potentially in a town near you, what was once a city service paid for by tax payers might become another avenue for advertising. The fried chicken restaurant extended an offer to mayors across the country to have the restaurant fill the city’s potholes and in return be allowed to affix a chalk logo to the newly paved asphalt. I know it’s a recession and all, and municipalities are feeling the pinch when it comes to typical city services like snow plowing and pothole patching, but come on; do we really need a fried chicken restaurant filling potholes for us? - James Ewert

Thanks James! If you’re concerned about corporation sweeping into rescue us from tax cuts, see these previous posts:

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So Where Are Those Sign Districts People Are Talking About? Look Here

I have found Google Maps to be an amazing tool for a number of things. The ability to create your own map is one of the best features, and Ban Billboard Blight has put that feature to good use, visualizing for the public the proposed LA sign districts.

The 20 areas of the city eligible for sign districts were included in an attachment to the city planning department’s report on the new sign ordinance approved by

the L.A. City Planning Commission March 26. Unfortunately, all but a few of the major streets were unlabeled, so residents of the area had a hard time telling how they might be affected. So we’ve created a Google map showing all the streets in the areas eligible for sign districts. Just click on the names and zoom in as close as necessary. [For anyone unfamiliar with Google maps, they can be viewed as street maps, or satellite images with street names. Just click above the map on "maps" or "satellite--show labels."]

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

The $1M billboard: City demands Astor Place building pay huge fines over 'illegal' signs

I love how building owners and outdoor advertising companies act as if they are completely unaware of both the penalties and the laws regarding outdoor advertising signage. Both OTR Media, and the co-op board at this location were well aware of the reasons this sign was in violation, and have been since the first summons. The buildings department does not suddenly send you a letter saying you owe $995,000.00. This happens after repeated attempts to serve both the company and the building with little to no response from either, a flagrant disregard for the city, its residents and our laws. This disregard runs so deep that the companies are appaled when the city actually enforces its laws and demands compliance. If for some strange reason OTR Media was not aware of the rules and regulations regarding the erection of outdoor advertising signage in New York City, I suggest they have someone look into it because that's a big part of the bussiness they are tryin run.

I looked into the DOB website for details regarding the violations at this site and 59 4th avenue doesn't seem to exist. This is strange, and I will look into why over the next few days.

Friday, March 27th 2009, 9:24 AM


Billboard for Boost Mobile on building at Fourth Ave. and Ninth St. in Greenwich Village may prove costly for co-op board.

It's Manhattan's million-dollar billboard.

That's nearly the amount the city is fining a coop board, billboard company and two installers over a giant sign on a building near Astor Place.

More than 70 violations - totaling $955,000 - have been doled out over the single billboard, which the Buildings Department says violates zoning laws.

The groups slapped with the hefty fines call them shockingly high since signs have been plastered on the structure for more than 70 years.

"It's absolutely outrageous, especially in this economy," said Ari Noe, CEO of OTR Media. "It's great income for the building owners."

The hubbub over the billboard, which currently advertises Boost Mobile, is the latest in a series of disputes between sign companies and the city.

Since the 1930s, a vintage sign advertising men's suit was painted on the side of the building on the corner of Ninth St. and Fourth Ave., said Patrick Curley, a member of the coop board who has lived there since 1978.

Then about six year ago, billboard companies began approaching the coop board - Fourth Avenue Loft Corp. - about placing ads there. The board charges a flat fee of $5,000 a month, which goes toward exterior improvements and other building upkeep.

Starting in 2007, inspectors began fining the coop board, OTR Media and two sign hanging companies for billboards advertising "King of the Hill" and the Turner Cartoon Network.

"Suddenly, they're noticing it. I don't understand what their reasoning is," said Curley, 57.

The violations, which come with penalties as high as $25,000, cover multiple offenses, including not having a permit, hanging an ad exceeding 500 square feet and placing the sign more than 40 feet above the curb.

Noe, though, believes the billboards should be grandfathered in since the space has continually featured advertisements for so many years.

But Buildings officials say new billboards are simply not allowed in that district.

"We will not tolerate any individuals or companies who disregard the law to make a profit," department spokesman Tony Sclafani said.

Some passersby couldn't believe the city was targeting what looks like a run-of-the-mill billboard.

"That's more than ridiculous," said Benson Graves, 21, manager of a nearby Ben & Jerry's. "There are posters all over the city just like that."

A hearing about the violations is set for April 16.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Norwegian ski billboard gets snowy when texted

Someone sent me this post on a simple mechanical bus advertisement in Norway. It's not the most interesting thing in the world, but what I found through a link in the post caught my attention. Apparently back in 2007, Marc Ecko had a hand in designing a bus shelter advertisement that allowed you to "spray paint" whatever you like on an LCD screen using your bluetooth phone. As much as I hate the use of this technology as an advertisement, as a public art work it is fantastic. Although the marks you make with your phone are not permanent, the act of creating ephemeral content in public space is still at the heart of what you're doing, and should provide similar emotions to actually writing on the walls of our shared spaces (without the fear). In fact, something as banal as this could even be a spark which motivates people who would otherwise not think of themselves illegally writing on public space, to actually go out and do so. It's almost a legal tutorial on what it is like to see your ideas expressed in the public, and that's empowering.

VIA Engadget Mobile

by Darren Murph, posted Mar 25th 2009 at 2:19AM

We've certainly seen mobile-activated bus stop ads before, but the cool factor on this one was just too impressive to overlook. Tryvann Winter Park, a ski resort that sits just 15 minutes away from downtown Oslo, was searching high and low for ways to better market itself to residents of the bustling Norweigian city. In order to do so, it turned to JCDecaux, who conjured up the brilliant idea you see to the right. Essentially, this advertisement packs a few internal fans and a bucketful of faux snow; whenever it starts snowing up at the ski resort, someone sends a text to the billboard and the flurries start to fly. This way, residents and workers in Oslo can easily see when conditions are good some 500 meters up. We're told that Tryvann "loved" the campaign and the resulting crowds that came, though there's no mention of whether it'll be implemented next season or elsewhere in the world.

Mark Ecko post off the first post:

Sure, we've seen a plethora of interactive billboards before, but Mark Ecko's (credit to Benjamin Busse) latest eye-catcher could seriously make you miss your ride. This brilliantly designed ad sports an LCD that can be painted up by your Bluetooth cellphone, as it allows passers to use their mobile as a spray can to decorate the screen as they please. No word on whether this thing accepts multiple connections or not, but a tagging duel would be mighty fine entertainment whilst waiting on the next bus.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Jennifer Jacobs has Fun at CBS's Expense

I had a class with Jennifer Jacobs at the CUNY Grad center and went the entire semester watching her sketch in her notebook with no knowledge of her outdoor visual activities.

Her statement of intent ends..."I am not interested in condemning or defending the condition of modern media; instead I am attempting to advance my understanding of the elements of popular culture that I identify with. My art is an effort to take responsibility for the effects of my exposure to popular media and provide an insightful and personal response."

Recent ad alterations prove she is taking that responsibility seriously, and attempting to teach us to do the same. I just wish those damn corporate icons would have been removed in the process.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Collosal Media Isn't the Worst Outdoor Advertising Company in the World

I gave Colossal Media a lot of crap for being the company that painted the Banksy Murals in downtown New York back in 2008. I was upset with the fluid relationship they established with the artist. This relationship worried me and my general concerns for how individuals bring their personal messages to the cities walls. If artists would need to pay to use their city walls, many would be left stunned by their inability to purchase their own public space.

That said, I would like to at least commend Colossal's use of several spaces around the city which have been adorned with murals similar to the one shown above. The murals are often humorous street scenarios that relate to the neighborhood they are in and often provide some critical message. This mural at North 5th and Bedford, critiques the gentrification of Williamsburg with the words "Welcome to Luxury" looming over the rest of the scene. I wonder what the old timers think of it. I wonder what the ATM's think of it.

note: "ATM" is a name I heard used for the rich kids that have come to dominate the Bushwick area. I think it's pretty hilarious. (until I get mugged)

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Illegal Billboards In Brooklyn


I try to keep my illegal billboard tracking to the illegal billboards site, but this one just pissed me off.

I know Bedford Avenue is a trendy little gentrified spot these days that I might have even helped contribute to in some small way. I also know a lot of very amazing locals who continue to live there and care about the neighborhood. Like many Brooklyn areas, Williamsburg has long been overlooked by aggressive outdoor advertising. I'm sure this is due to pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic calculations. With the addition of this new sign, its clear that the industry has decided that has changed.

Did the landlord really think no one would check to see if this neighborhood altering sign was permitted, given it stands out like a sore thumb in an area for the most part free of vinyl signage? If so he was wrong because illegal billboards happened to walk up that street today. [post]

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“Graffiti” to be legalized in Brazil?

I knew it was a forced to be reckoned with but didn't know it was straight up legal.

VIA OtherThings

Last week a law was passed in Brazil legalizing graffiti. But this doesn’t mean exactly what you may think. In Brazil, “graffiti” (grafite in Portuguese) refers not so much to the entire hip hop tradition of writing, but more specifically to colorful pieces, characters, abstractions, and other painted street art. In everyday speech, it’s often contrasted against pichação, which is Brazil’s home-grown style of tagging, so named because its first practicioners used tar (piche) stolen from construction sites. The semantic distinction echoes a sentiment I often hear here in the US: “I like the artistic stuff, but not, you know, those ugly scribbles.”

This distinction is part of what’s being put into law. What’s interesting about this law is that it appears to recognize the artistic and cultural value of the graffiti itself, not just the monetary value of the property it’s painted on. How will this play out in practice, I wonder?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Brazil, graffiti is being taught in schools, recognized in an International Biennial, and receiving special protection from the buff. Sounds like a pretty civilized country to me.

Props and muito obrigado to Raquel Rabbit for the link, and for helping me out with the subtleties of Brazilian Portuguese. Read on for my poor (but better than Google’s) English translation of the first article above:

Magela seeks approval of the law that decriminalizes graffiti

Author of the draft law 706/07, which decriminalizes graffiti, Mr. Geraldo Magela (Workers’ Party, Federal District) yet ruled on the request of the groups, Task Force FT Cruz and Recanto das Emas Crew who asked the mayor, Mr Arlindo Chinaglia (Workers’ Party, São Paulo) that the project be voted on as soon as possible.

Magela wants to see achieved this dream of young people connected to graffiti and recalls the need to separate grafite (graffiti) from what is a crime, pichação (tagging). “Graffiti is one of the elements of great importance for the Hip-Hop movement, whose actions raise the consciousness of many young people today,” he said.

The proposition amends Article 65 of Federal Law 9.605/98, which provides for punishment, without distinction, for whoever tags, paints graffiti on, or by other means harms facades of buildings or city monuments. In drafting proposed by Magela, the punishment will be increased in the case of crime against monuments that have landmark status due to their artistic value. Manufacturers of spray paint will have 180 days after the sanction of the bill to make changes in packaging, indicating the sale only for people over 18 years.

Another important point is the distinction Magela makes between tagging and graffiti. Graffiti will be recognized as “artistic expression” that seeks to enhance public or private property, as long as it’s done with the consent of the property owner, explained Magela.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can a Rebel Stay a Rebel Without the Claws?

BOSTON — You will be seeing a lot more art by Shepard Fairey on the streets of New York this spring. But it won’t be in the form of the illegal guerrilla strikes he has been committing since his days as a student at the Rhode Island School of Design 20 years ago, nor anything like his famous Obama Hope poster. For starters, it is in the windows of Saks Fifth Avenue, for whom he has also designed swanky red, white and black Russian Constructivist-style limited-edition shopping bags.[Read More]

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Midtown Crossing Developer: Either Approve a Sign District To Allow Supergraphic Billboards, or the Project Will Remain a Dusty Hole in the Ground

Developers, landlords, and outdoor advertising agencies alike, are often clear about one thing; the city would cease to operate in the same way and with the same comforts we are all used to if outdoor advertising was banned and the revenues it brings were lost. The funny thing is I think that this is the same point people who are fighting the spread of urban blight are trying to make. The problem is developers and landlords, advertising companies and those who have a stake in the profits reaped by obliterating our public conscience with fantasies of things we don't need, don't get that we don't want the stupid shopping center to begin with. If the building and the shops contained within cannot support themselves without creating false desire for the actual products sold within the structure through giant supergraphic advertising, then it holds nothing of necessity and should not be considered a viable business venture.

Via Ban Billboard Blight

Midtown Crossing Site

A representative of CIM Group, the developer of the Midtown Crossing shopping center, told a neighborhood council committee last week that the project can’t be built without including 11 large supergraphic billboards. CIM vice president Philip Freidl told the Mid-City Neighborhood Council’s Planning and Land Use Management Committee that the company originally purchased the property with the expectation that the city would approve a special sign district to allow off-site advertising that is otherwise prohibited by the city sign code.

The 11 large billboards arrayed around the shopping center would face Pico and Venice Blvds., and advertise products and services other than those sold on the premises. Graphic displays brought to the meeting by Friedl and an assistant showed 14 such billboards, including one digital, but he said that the number has since been reduced in response to community concerns about the impact on surrounding residential neighborhoods. Friedl said that the project won’t pencil out without the revenue from the supergraphic signs, which can earn up to $50,000 a month for property owners in high-traffic locations.

CIM Group was the subject of a recent Los Angeles Times article exposing the fact that it has allowed illegal supergraphic signs on some of its properties. At a meeting last week, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency board expressed dismay at this disclosure, and some commissioners questioned whether the city should continue to do business with the company which has received city subsidies for several projects, including more than $14 million for Midtown Crossing.

The initial public hearing by the city planning department on the company’s application for a sign district is scheduled for April 6. A new city sign ordinance, which would not allow a sign district such as the one proposed for Midtown Crossing, is scheduled to be voted on by the City Planning Commission March 18. However, the new ordinance contains a provision that “grandfathers” all seven sign district applications currently pending in the planning department, allowing them to go forward under current, less restrictive criteria.

CIM Group is a major property owner and developer in Hollywood and downtown L.A., and has developed projects or has projects underway in other cities, including Santa Monica, Pasadena, Anaheim, and San Jose. None of those cities allow billboards or other forms of off-site advertising.

According to City Ethics Commission reports, the firm spent almost $1.3 million lobbying city agencies on behalf of its projects in the past five years. In addition, persons listed as CIM group executives and employees have contributed $54,000 to city election campaigns since the 2001 election. The major recipients of this largesse have been Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, $12,000, Councilmember Jan Perry, $3,000, and Councilmember and City Attorney candidate Jack Weiss, $2,250.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

MTA the First to Officially *Not* Recognize the Name Citi Field

Naming sports venues and train stations after corporations is a different form of outdoor advertising that can't really be deemed illegal the same way I would like to see other forms of outdoor advertising made obsolete. It is nonetheless a fabulous intrusion on the part of any corporation using this tactic and should be paid for aggressively by those wishing to use such devious means of public communication. Citi pays 20 million a year for the right to call the Mets stadium Citi Field, and the MTA is doing the right thing by standing up to pressures to rename the station closest to the field for no compensation whatsoever. They will pay the Mets, a private for profit institution, but not the MTA, a bankrupt city agency and vital part of a healthy metropolis. I get it.

from Gothamist by

2009_03_willetsshea.jpg After initially thinking that they would rename the 7 Train subway stop in tandem with the new ballpark, the MTA announced that the train stop closest to the Mets' new digs will not carry the name "Citi Field" after the team refused to cough up any money for the station's name change. The station is nearly halfway through a planned $40 million in renovations to go along with the opening of the new stadium and the MTA had hoped to help pay for the work with a portion of the $20 million a year the Mets are receiving in naming rights from Citigroup. The team apparently wasn't eager to spread the wealth however and now the station will simply be renamed "Mets/Willets Point," the nearby LIRR station carrying the same name. On the upside, at least the MTA avoids the possibility of being forced into renaming the station again with no one exactly holding their breath that Citi Field (or as some are calling it, Debits Field) is a moniker that will last through the economic winter.

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Copycats Keep PosterBoy Working When He's Not in Town

I know for a fact that PosterBoy is not in town right now so this is definitely the work of other active participants in the PosterBoy project. Shine on you crazy diamonds!

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Paul Rudd (Fan) Reaches Out to Poster Boy?

A few weeks ago I spoke to a class of Parsons students studying, "applied disciplines that are fundamentally engaged with society and culture within the art context", as the program description describes. I talked about PublicAdCampaign and installed a project so that they could see alternative media projects in action. This was right around when the whole PosterBoy thing was getting a lot of press, and we discussed his, or their work as well. Turns out the students created projects which critically engaged the PosterBoy concept and this happens to be one of them. We were asked to come back to the class to critique and discuss the student projects and this happened to be one of my favorites. There were many more letters from a wide variety of advertisements. Some were funnier than others but I thought in general, they gave the ads a pathetic and cynical quality that I like to associate with advertising in general. Well done.

from Gothamist by

Photo via rj3dc's flickr.

Is an unlikely bromance in the air? Has Paul Rudd reached out to Poster Boy with specifics about how he wants the I Love You, Man ad campaign altered? This letter was spotted on the downtown 6 platform at 51st Street. The actor does like to take on fake names (at a recent Virgin Megastore appearance he went under "Fred Rudd"), so giving himself a musical moniker of "Raul" does fit his M.O. However, this is probably just the work of a crazy Rudd fan, or some sort of plan by Dreamworks to enliven their boring posters.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Can we make the airport any more degrading?

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by

We have to dump all of our water, in some cases women are being forced to remove their undergarments, and of course we all have to take off our shoes, now we are forced to look at ads in the process. Not that the security check point was a particularly sacred or peaceful place anyway, but man, seeing those really bright ads at that moment is not the kind of branding they want. I’m thinking: “damnit, I hate shoes right now.” And then I have to stare into a box that is telling me “you love shoes. you need shoes. buy more shoes.”

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Friday, March 13, 2009

PublicAdCampaign and PosterBoy in El Pais

If you can read Spanish, indulge yourself in a text that I will be slowly translating over the next few days. This article appeared in El Pais today 03-13-2009, and was written by Barbara Celis, a journalist and documentary film maker. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to both of us about public space and the artistic process.

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The Chevron Guy Says What? (DC Climate Activist Ad Hack)

VIA Bioephemera

Here in DC, creative individuals appear to have revised Chevron ads in at least one Metro station to reflect a more, er, politically overt sentiment. The poster hack changes the promise "I will use less energy" in this ad (pdf) to "I will stop lobbying against climate legislation."

The digitally executed revision (which looks pretty convincing in person) follows in the footsteps of Berlin graffiti artists and others who use graphic hacks to subtly shift or reverse the message of advertising in public places. The question is, how many people have noticed? (Keep your eyes open, DC residents!)

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can’t Rent Your Storefront? Make it an Illegal Billboard

When new technologies come out and or become cheap enough to implement, the advertising industry often uses them to create new venues for advertising dissemination. It seems the large scale vinyl print has found its newest application as the economic crisis leaves storefronts abandoned and landlords without income. These locations are treated by the Department of buildings the same way billboards are treated and thus require permits. If permits are not obtained the signage is considered illegal and is subject to the same fines and violations associated will illegal billboards.

Recently I found a stop work order plastered on top of a large vinyl building wrap for Western Union on the corner of 22nd street. It seemed that with good reason, the DOB was treating the advertisement like a billboard. Because the premises had not obtained the correct permit from the DOB, the sign was in violation. I was sure similar ads cropping up around the city were illegal as well but needed to find another similar ad so I could look at the DOB website for permit information. Sure enough today I ran across this illegal Snickers building wrap which has no permits and is larger than most billboards even in Times Square. Here is my complaint #1251002

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I Can't Even Fathom This

VIA Animal New York

Ad Creep Update is a regular feature on ANIMAL documenting the spreading epidemic of advertising media placement into every nook and cranny of your daily life. Does the thought of staring down a 100 meter ski jump make you want to shit your pants? (Vinko Bogataj would probably evacuate before he got his ski pants down upon entering this stall.) Georgia Max canned coffee, a popular Coca-Cola brand in Japan, transformed bathroom stalls at some local ski resorts like so to promote the beverage. The translated branding on the toilet paper dispenser supposedly reads: "Seriously kick-ass intensely sweet for the real coffee super zinging unstoppable Max! Taste-explosion!" Okey-dokey. Drink Georgia Max, ski faster, gotcha. Also, being that it's a sweetened coffee drink, it probably helps your turd toboggans set indoor speed records, too. Image: coloribus

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Ads Realize It's The Quality of the Connection That Entices the Audience

A while back I decided to use the phone kiosks more three dimensionally. Partially this was to allow people to see the advertising displaced, grabbing their attention by using a physical object instead of the flat surface provided by advertising. These pieces eventually became a critique of the content provided by advertising, using crumpled up newspaper, which despite being illegible acted as an enticement for some richer exchange than what is regularly provided by advertising.

I enjoyed these pieces and thought it was only a matter of time before someone in the ad world realized these dull two dimensional surfaces hold so much more potential. Sure enough here is an ad for Tylenol which fills this bus kiosk with coffee cups. It is widely understood that an ad is only successful if it can gain the public's attention first. By providing physical objects, this space is far more engaging and absolutely more effective at holding our ever wandering attentions on our city streets. It's the quality of the connection that entices the audience

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Bussiness Goes Under, Ads Pop Up

Recently I've been noticing a lot of street level businesses closing shop, either relocating or going under completely in these dismal financial times. As if empty store fronts weren't bad enough, these empty spaces are now being turned into giant inescapable street level billboards as a way to offset rental losses for the landlord. The complete vinyl wraps are sure attention grabbers and must work very well as ads cause they are popping up everywhere. I had been meaning to look into the legality of these ads when I stumbled upon this one at 22nd street and Broadway on the south east corner.

It seems a stop work order has been issued because the sign at this location was erected without a permit. The DOB website has many violations in regard to this sign but complaint #1250447 seems to be the clearest citation. The problem here is despite the sign being erected without a permit and therefor being illegal, the sign will continue to operate exactly as it was intended. It is likely if a permit is obtained, the company responsible for this abomination will face no penalties and be allowed to continue to operate at this location. It is important that we understand that outdoor advertising is able to operate unphased despite the city's best efforts to control rampant illegal operations.

If this sign was erected without a permit you can be damn sure the rest of the signs erected in a similar fashion and on similar locations are probably done without permits as well. This is often the case with new forms of advertising, companies test the public's reaction by erecting signage before asking for permission. Only once the public has put out a distress signal do the ads come under city jurisdiction and begin to comply with the law. It is in our best interest to be outraged by these new intrusions and make that voice heard. Maybe enough distaste for this type of signage will keep these from becoming another expected intrusion on our public psyche.

If you see any other signs similar to this one please take a picture and send it to us. We will report the sign and follow its removal.

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All are welcome to express themselves in the box below

This is an interesting way for private landlords and shop owners to allow, and at the same time control, graffiti and public use of our shared public walls. Not only does a gesture like this garner respect from local artists for the wall they are painting and thus the individual behind it, but it creates an environment where public use of public space is acceptable despite local laws prohibiting this kind of activity.

VIA Boing Boing

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Keep It Going Ads Parodied?

It's wonderful to see people conscious enough of their public space that they take the time to alter it. If anyone knows the person responsible for this I would love to be put in touch with them. I have a project coming up and I think they might be interested in participating.

VIA The Gothamist

A reader sent along these photos from the E train, saying, "I am sure that they are fakes and that they are making fun of the current Keep it Going NYC campaign." We asked an NYC Transit spokesman if they were fakes, to which he replied, "I have no idea." Smells like a renegade campaign to us! And unlike the KeepNewYorkMoving ad campaign, it's not asking Albany for funding, but criticizing both Governor Paterson for his budget cuts and the MTA for its proposed fare hikes and service cuts.

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Guerrilla Marketing Without the Headache

VIA The New York Times

Could it be? Is it possible that City Room’s battler against guerrilla marketing — the man who risked physical injury, lost an S.L.R. camera and incurred the wrath of the blogosphere when he went up against a poster crew last year — has finally found a campaign that he doesn’t really mind? Or, at least, doesn’t hate?

It could be. Tipped off last week by my colleague Michael Cooper, I checked out a Tylenol PM ad being projected after dark as a wall mural at Eighth Avenue and 31st Street. And, frankly, it wasn’t so bad. In fact, if you could hear your own thoughts over the roar of the portable generator needed to run the projector, it was a bit amusing.

The premise is, “Your daily choices can affect how you sleep at night.” Six apartment windows are projected on to a blank wall. Three windows are dark. (Their occupants made the right choices.) But the lights are on in three windows whose occupants have been less smart. In a minute, it becomes clear that the ad is not static. A coffee drinker paces by one window, while a cat can be seen jumping on and off a bed in another, and a television watcher waves her remote control in the third.

The ad has several things going for it:

  • It observes the scale of its surroundings. It doesn’t involve an impossibly oversize logo or human image. Its make-believe windows are the size and in the locations you would expect to find real windows.
  • It uses a blank wall. It doesn’t cover real windows or columns or doorways or other architectural features. In other words, it takes nothing away from the environment.
  • It appears in a commercial district. I don’t think there are any apartment dwellers who would have to look out at this ad — or listen to the generator — while they were trying to sleep.
  • It is understated, as such things go. The main show is the animated display. The connection of these little vignettes to Tylenol is pretty oblique. And the logo, while unmistakable, is subdued.
  • It exploits technology to engage passers-by, rather than hit them over the heads. That’s clever enough to earn a post in City Room, which amounts to free publicity.

The campaign is the work of the Deutsch advertising agency and was produced by City Eventions and the ON Media Group. Richard McDermott, the founder and president of ON Media Group, said the campaign ran simultaneously in Philadelphia, Chicago and San Francisco, and will return to New York this month.

We’ll see how the next encounter goes. On its Web site, ON urges advertisers to “turn the streets into your own gallery” with wall murals; in other words, to appropriate the public sphere for private marketing ends. And it offers products like adhesive pavement advertising (illegal in New York City) and chalk stencil advertising, which is — for all intents and purposes — corporate graffiti. There may yet be headaches in store.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Gregory Snyder-Graffiti Lives

On the first page of Graffiti Lives-Beyond the Tag in New York's Urban Underground, Gregory Snyder articulates why I think public interaction with the visual environment is such an important public health issue. It not only engages those individuals who physically alter the space they live in, but also those who consume that alteration (happily or not), creating a participatory interaction in public space. This is by no means a small achievement and one of the achievements of a properly functioning city and residency.

He writes, "I lived in New York for three years, but suddenly I was in an entirely different city; it felt like the walls around me had burst to life. I began to explore my city looking at graffiti, and this gave me a greater appreciation of the diversity of its architecture and it's people. I learned to take photographs, improved my penmanship, and got into lots of fascinating conversations."

Somewhat related, later in the book he writes, "Graffiti writing incites stories, and the desire to write graffiti in part comes from the need to be part of the story." "Stories are an essential part of city life, and the way that graffiti animates spaces is an enjoyable, fascinating aspect of the urban experience. French architecture critic Michele de Certeau agrees with this notion, arguing that graffiti is in line with a collection of urban activities in which we make our own stories and produce the memories that make space habitable. This lived space is the space of everyday experience, in contrast to the planned, ordered city that seeks to impose a metanarrative on space. This may be more than just enjoyement; the author of the reknowned Marxist text The Production of Space, Henri Lefebvre, believes that transforming space in this fashion is potentialy radical, and that the reevaluation of space is as critical to social change as economic and political restructuring."

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sign companies claim billboard fines are crippling the ad industry

If there's one thing the post is good at, it's running everyone through the same grinder. They railed PosterBoy when they caught wind of his antics, and it seems they aren't pulling any punches with our city council either. It is abundantly clear that the residents of this city want outdoor advertising signage brought under control. When our elected officials take money from the outdoor advertising industry and then speak on their behalf, they are not only ignoring their constituents but breaking the law.

Adam Lisberg

Monday, March 2nd 2009, 7:54 PM

New York's crackdown on oversized billboards is hurting the ad industry, as sign companies say inspectors are hitting them with huge fines for minor infractions.

"Here is an industry that is synonymous with New York, and it employs a lot of people, but it seems the city is targeting it," said City Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn).

"The fines given to one single billboard can go over $100,000, but the fines issued in the East Side crane collapses were a fraction of that," he noted.

"It's like the world turned upside down."

The crackdown began in 2006 after the City Council, reacting to community pressure, passed tough new restrictions on billboards next to major roads and on outsized ads covering entire building walls.

"It's there to address a real problem," said Councilwoman Melinda Katz (D-Queens), who pushed those laws through. "We put together a huge coalition to make this happen."

Each violation can cost up to $25,000, and each sign can trigger multiple violations - which city officials said is necessary to deter signs that generate enormous profits.

"They would nitpick on every little thing to come up with eight different violations," said Michael Eisenberg, spokesman for OTR Media Group, one of the city's major billboard companies.

"This is the same Buildings Department that should be cracking down on unsafe buildings."

Billboard companies have sued to block the new rules, and city officials have been reluctant to discuss the dispute while the case is in the courts.

When the Buildings Department targeted large outdoor signs in 2007, it said 20% of building owners voluntarily removed signs when told they were illegal.

Agency spokesman Tony Sclafani defended the crackdown.

"Illegal signs can pose a danger to the public if not safely installed," Sclafani said. "The safety of New Yorkers is the department's top priority.

Follow up Article By SALLY GOLDENBERG

A city councilman running for public advocate took campaign contributions from billboard companies just days after publicly demanding looser regulations on the industry, The Post has learned.

Councilman Bill de Blasio (D-Brooklyn), one of six public-advocate candidates this year, took in $8,000 from billboard companies a few days after he called on the city to ease the reins at a City Hall press conference, campaign records show.

During the January conference, de Blasio criticized the city for what he called an "unreasonable crackdown" on outdoor-advertising companies.

At the time, he said the Department of Buildings "overzealously targets outdoor advertisers and grossly overpenalizes them for nonharmful violations, while serving comparatively smaller fines for numerous potentially life-threatening violations."

"I am proud to support local businesses," de Blasio said yesterday through spokeswoman Gwen Rocco.

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Who Watches The Watchmen? Hopefully the Anti-Vandal Squad

I won't go into a rant on this one. We have all seen similar amazingly insidious forms of outdoor advertising taking advantage of graffiti and street artists. These campaigns exploit these artists by having them create content for advertising in a medium they developed for self expression. What once challenged the use of public space has become a commodity held hostage to the desires of the advertising industry. And this does not even begin to talk about the fact that the Anti-Vandal Squad should be on this one like flies to shit, but obviously won't pay any mind. You think they have as extensive a file on the company that does this sort of illegal commercial graffiti as they have on PosterBoy? I doubt it.

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Ji Lee, I'm Your Newest Fan

Ji Lee's work goes from creating advertising content for the likes of Cheerios and Tylenol, to deconstructing similar content with his Bubble Project. Until recently, I was only aware of the Bubble Project work and wasn't aware of the advertising he helped create. It seems more and more artists these days are traversing this slippery slope, creating incisive commentary on our consumer culture and lack of individual voice in the public, while creating ad content at the same time. I'm not so opposed to this, though fighting against advertising in the public becomes difficult when you produce public advertising as well. Luckily, the only example I've found by Mr. Lee of creating outdoor advertising content is this amazing 2008 campaign for The New Museum. This project would not have worked anywhere but outside. Not only does the New Museum Advertisement erase countless ads but it builds a visual understanding so that you see this actually happening. The new museum poster is at once the two images and yet you are reminded of what the top images has obliterated. It's a tiny stroke of genius and I wish more indicative of what the New Museum has to offer.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Bubble Project Manifesto

The Bubble Project has been taking back our streets since 2005. Today, Wooster Collective announced, "..the second book in our "Books We Love" series is Ji Lee's Talk Back: The Bubble Project which came out from Mark Batty publisher in 2006." In the posting, Wooster includes Ji Lee's Manifesto which is a very concise argument for the need for open participation in our public discourse. Very insightful.

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MoMA Severs Ties with HappyCorp

A recent post by The Gothamist explains MoMA's final word on the whole PosterBoy alteration of the Atlantic/Pacific project. What I couldn't understand was why MoMA would speak so clearly against the vandalism when to do so would destroy their credibility with those who thought the stunt was interesting. It seems they are receiving a lot of pressure from the MTA and CBS outdoor. If this was the reason they were firing HappyCorp, I thought it a little sheepish of them. Researching more, I read a comment regarding PosterBoy's work on that station and I think it explains why MoMA might not have been game for such fun. It holds up quite well and is reproduced here.

By MisterSparkle on 02/24/2009 at 7:17pm

I wouldn't be surprised to find out that MoMA is involved in this, even if they are denying it. More to the point, though, I don't really understand the intentions of whoever actually vandalized the ads (be it a member of the Poster Boy movement or somebody else).

To a certain degree, I can understand vandalizing ads for large corporations, consumer products and the like in the name of both art and anarchy. But the MoMA ads seem to be largely unobstructed, unadulterated prints of some of their best art work. While I do take issue with MoMA's high admission prices, I respect their fundamental role as a cultural institution and their attempts to draw more visitors to the museum. Therefore, I see no reason to destroy MoMA ads that a) consist of already great artwork and b) have a generally admirable goal (promoting modern art and generating new patrons), especially if the ads will be replaced shortly at MoMA's expense.

To me, this is the height of snarky, holier-than-though post-modern derisiveness because it attacks the very art that gave way to the validation of subversive street art. If the person responsible was working with MoMA, I would be impressed by MoMA's awareness and hope that they might leave the ads as-is or do more work with street/graffiti art in their marketing. If the person was Poster Boy or some other adherent/imitator, he or she clearly has no respect for the art that gave rise to theirs and no sense of purpose and integrity.

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