Brown Student Gets Up In New York City Phone Booths
Ariel Hudes, a Brown University student, contacted PublicAdCampaign about a month ago with a request. In her first email she wrote..
I'm taking a class at Brown called Radical Media ( http://tiny.cc/QYZ5F). I came across you and the Public Ad Campaign in that Times article a few weeks and have been a daily blog-reader since. I'm totally enthralled. I love what you're doing. And here comes the request...
For our first assignment "create and distribute a radical poster" I made this: https://wiki.brown.edu/confluence/display/mcm1700p/-mission And for our final assignment "a final project that goes beyond the Brown campus"... my dream is to get it blown up... and go to ny and put it in a phone booth.
Obviously we helped her out. She came down on the 13th and off we went with two posters in hand. I put up the first one just so she could see it happen, and then it was her turn. After her first phone booth install she had a grin from ear to ear and a sense of accomplishment that was palpable. Here at PublicAdCampaign we always enjoy facilitating peoples interaction with their public environment. We are also continually impressed with how empowered it makes people feel and how it changes their entire relationship to the streets around them. Congrats Ariel!
Supreme Court Won’t Hear Metrolights Appeal: Will Those Illegal Billboards Now Come Down?
Now that Metro Fuel has exhausted its options trying to legalize the non-permitted city signs they installed years ago without any discussion with the city of New York, we should see them come down. How fast this will happen is a matter of debate.
The legal battle over the hundreds of movie poster-style billboards put up in L.A. without permits the past five years apparently reached an end today, when the U.S. Supreme Court refused to review an appellate court decision that the city’s off-site sign ban can be used to prohibit the company’s signs. [More Here]
Keith Schwietzer of No Longer Empty asked PublicAdCampaign for some suggestions of artists for the roll down gate mural project they are working on in New York City. We immediately suggested a few of our favorites including Gaia whose installation video is shown above. This project is a wonderful use of the rolldown gates in New York and a fantastic answer to Mr. Vallone's assumption that they breed ugly graffiti.
Hasidic and Secular Cyclists Collaborate on Bedford Ave Re-Striping
I know this is old news but I love this sort of direct action community project. Many times people need to step outside of the accepted means of behavior to control the spaces in which they live. A healthy public dialogue is the result and this only contributes to public spaces that reflect the needs of the community.
After reports that two people were arrested re-striping bike lanes on Bedford Avenue, comes news that no arrests were in fact made. Only summonses were issued to the group, which included “both secular Williamsburg residents and members of the Hasidic community,” according to local bike shop owner and advocate Baruch Herzfeld. [MORE]
PosterBoy Sentenced to 210 Hours of Community Service
The New York Post has recently reported that PosterBoy has plead guilty to felony and misdemeanor charges of criminal mischief. As Will Sherman of Animal NY points out, PosterBoy's dedication to raising awareness about outdoor advertising's strong control of our shared public spaces should be reflected in the 210 hours of community service he has been sentenced to. The severity of the sentence obviously reflects the city's dedication to commercial use of public space over public critique and free expression. If the city has an interest in addressing the complaints of its citizens regarding the proliferation of outdoor advertising, often illegal according to city laws, it would be wise to use PosterBoy's clear passion and dedication to this issue for our collective advantage. In this way this unjust sentence might help ease the rift between activists and concerned citizens attempting to aid the city in its pursuit of a public space which encourages both a healthy community and an open dialogue between the public and the the city's commercial interests.
Bablegum has chosen the winners of its metropolis arts prize for video in 2009. The winners, as well as runners up, will have their videos screened on the Jumbotrons in Times Square NYC. The categories include a street art video award for which Jason Eppink's Pixelator video was a runner up. If you do not know the Pixelator project, take a look at it here. It is an incredible street art advertising intervention. The irony of this advertising takeover being screened on one of the world largest digital billboards is too much to bear. Please come out on December 17th from 7pm-8pm to watch public content get its rightful place in this great outdoor advertising mecca, and support Jason in his efforts. On another note, Improve Anywhere won the Audience Award with their Subway Yearbook Photo Project. You gotta love Charlie and his antics, they never stop and they always inspire.
Jet Blue "The Flyers Collection" Advertising Campaign
Always advertising savvy, Jet Blue has taken its recent campaign to empty storefronts in New York. Let me explain this very clearly. Jet Blue, or rather the outdoor advertising company Jet Blue is paying, has rented out this storefront but you cannot go in. There is no one there because the products inside are not actually for sale. Available outside is a promotional pamphlet which directs you to a website. www.theflyerscollection.com takes you to a Facebook page where you can view imaginary products that make fun of other airlines lacking services. These same products are on display in this fake retail outdoor advertisement. Wow! I'm not sure how I feel about this but I'm pretty sure it isn't illegal. This isn't the building's first time being used as a giant street level billboard.
I'm not a lover of graffiti in the same way I am street art, mainly because its use of public space can sometimes be abusive and neglectful. (although in my opinion this is often not the case) I have however thought that it is a symptom of a larger problem facing major urban centers that must be taken seriously. The problem is simply, how do we express our personal identity in a population of millions while simultaneously being bombarded by commercial identity at every turn. A recent article in the New York Times about graffiti artist BNE has some interesting quotes by the artist which I think are worthwhile noting as they explain the reasoning behind why some graffiti artists feel it is their right to take over a city with their scrawl despite it being highly illegal.
“This is my voice, and if you try to remove it, you’re shutting me up,” he said.
“I don’t see other graffiti writers as my competition anymore,” B.N.E. said. “Now I’m going up against the Tommy Hilfigers, Starbucks, Pepsi. You have these billion-dollar companies, and I’ve got to look at their logos every day. Why can’t I put mine up?”
Verifying that in fact BNE was competing on a similar level as multi-national brands, Mother had this to say...
“B.N.E. has single-handedly created a globally recognized and valued brand in the new social economy,” Mother officials said in a news release. “His presence in Flickr photo galleries and YouTube pages dwarfs that of many multinationals.”
Some big tributes to Doom, the infamously violent early-90s video game, have been taking over billboards in Berlin. Turning commercial propaganda into potential blood baths, street artists Mr Talion, Epoxy, Baveux and Kone pasted unsuspecting ads with the display from the first person shooter favored by the Columbine High School killers. [More Images Here]
Toronto City Council Adopts Billboard Tax and Comprehensive New Signs By-Law
Fighting the encroachment of commercial messages in our shared public spaces happens in many different ways. In Toronto, they have recently won a hard fought legal battle which will regulate signage in the city with an unprecedented billboard tax. We commend Rami Tabello and all of the the activists and artist who worked incredibly hard to challenge the abusive outdoor advertising companies that once reigned supreme on the streets of this marvelous Canadian city. The new by-law is an indication that the public, through hard work and perseverance, can actually alter the space they live in and create for themselves the city they so desire.
With more and more artists and public individuals taking back commercial messaging spaces for public communications, the work continues to get more and more interesting. This new work from Lithuanian artist 2hora gives the public a presence in the ad saturated London Tube.
This image was sent to me by a PublicAdCampaign reader yesterday and was taken in the NYC subway system. In a continued effort to finance our ailing MTA we are forced to consume more and more advertising. According to the reader, this projection is the size of a small movie screen and the washed out quality you see above is actually how the image looked in real life. The MTA, operating on a budget that would dwarf many US city budgets, will have to occupy every space we have with advertising to even begin to put a dent in our public transportation operating costs. If this is the case, are we willing as a public to allow every inch of our public transportation system to be covered in commercial messages? And if we are unwilling to let the proliferation of such media fully takeover, why allow these singular examples when we know they will not put a dent in the financial troubles of our beloved MTA?
I Won A Contest Promotions Sweepstakes! or The Most Important Post We Have Ever Made
This is a long post but please read it. Due to some fantastic circumstances we finally found out what NPA and Contest Promotions are up to.
A while back I entered one of the Contest Promotions sweepstakes at The Deli. Yesterday I received the above package from 28-20 Borden Avenue in Long Island City. Oddly Contest Promotions is right down the block from Clear Chanel taxi media, and on the same property as Spring Scaffolding and Skyline Scaffolding. I only bring this up because we all know Contest Promotions is a front to make NPA City Outdoor legal and we also know NPA holds many contracts with scaffolding companies which allow illegal Wildposting on their construction sheds in return for small amounts of cash. I'm not saying this is the case with these two companies, I'm just saying they occupy the same building. On a side note, if you want to send the leasing agents at NPA copies of the $25,000.00 violations you received from the DOB for having their illegal advertising signage on your property, the address is 49 west 23rd st. 8th floor, NY NY 10010. Oddly you can address the package to Contest Promotions, NPA City Outdoor, or National Promotions with the same result.
Upon opening the package I realized I had just received my "prize" for entering the contest along with a nice letter from Mrs. Tong, the contest coordinator. The second paragraph in the letter caught my attention and so I will transcribe it here...
"Contest Promotions operates sweepstakes activities just like the one you entered in conjunction with small businesses throughout the city of New York in an effort to increase patronage at the participating businesses. Should you wish to learn more about the sweepstakes, please log on to www.contestpromotions.net."
This struck me as a strange way to talk about a business whose single purpose was to legitimate the illegal advertising business run by NPA. I quickly logged on to their website only to find more of this heavy handed altruism.
"Who We Are
"Contest Promotions" is a company that does exactly what it says - it employs contests and sweepstakes to promote businesses, specifically small retail businesses nationwide. That's why Contest Promotions' motto is:
"Helping Mom and Pop's Complete" (I think they mean Compete)
By 'Mom and Pop's,' we mean all the small, potentially family-owned retailers across the countries who have found themselves in the challenging position of competing against well-funded national chain stores. In today's competitive marketplace, these Mom and Pop retailers need to find ways to increase foot traffic and bolster sales to prevent themselves from being squeezed out of their own backyards. It's a basic issue of retail survival.
That's where Contest Promotions fits beautifully into their business strategies"
The complete fabrication of the motivations behind the Contest Promotions business leads me into a few questions I think will debunk the assertions that this is a legitimate business looking out for the greater good, and give credence to our belief that they are actually aiding NPA City Outdoor in their illegal advertising business.
What is Contest Promotions' revenue stream? According to The Deli, they pay $50.00 to put their raffle box on the deli counter. They also spend money collecting the tickets, processing and mailing the prizes. The only place I can see revenue coming into this business is through companies like Dr. Pepper paying to have their products used as promotions. Otherwise it would seem they have no revenue at all which would lead me to believe they are actually NPA or at least sponsored by NPA.
What kinds of businesses are actually using Contest Promotions sweepstakes materials? In my neighborhood, along with delis and "Mom and Pop" stores, there is MTP or Central Parking and Rawhide. The first is definitely not a "Mom & Pop" establishment, having hundreds of parking locations around the city, and the later is an old Chelsea icon catering to the leather bound gay scene. When I went to both places, neither knew what I was talking about when I told them I wanted to enter the sweepstakes. Yet both have huge NPA City Outdoor illegal advertising billboards outside.
Rawhide street view MTP parking street view
Why is there not a single example of Contest Promotions operating at a location which does not already operate an illegal NPA City Outdoor advertisement? Walking the streets of New York City I have been able to visually make the link between Contest Promotions and NPA but since Contest Promotions operates in 3 other cities I needed the very illuminating information made available on their website to further prove this connection. Under "Markets" on the Contest Promotions website they list the 3 other cities in which they operate, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Houston. Within these cities, they list every location they operate sweepstakes promotions at. Choose any location from these lists and get the Google maps street view of this business and you will see an NPA run ad frame. Take for example...
Esequiel's Hair Salon - 808 N. State St. Los Angeles, California.
Sonoma Liquor Company - 65 6th St. San Francisco, California.
King Cole Liquor - 1802 Richmond Ave. Houston, Texas.
So if the connection between these two companies is clear, how does the addition of Contest Promotions to the equation make the illegal NPA advertisements legal? For a while we thought this was simply an attempt to turn NPA advertising signs into what are referred to as first party signage on the understanding that these ad images were being used to promote the products to be won inside in the same way a shoe in a shoe store window would suggest shoes are available for purchase at this establishment. This is not entirely the case.
It seems that Contest Promotions is applying for accessory business sign permits from the DOB. You can see the two applications at 98 Avenue A that were denied, here, and here. This is a slightly different case than simply trying to call these legal first party signs and in my non-expert opinion here is why they are doing this. Once NPA locations are permitted as accessory business signs, they fall under a different category than advertising signage which is policed more rigorously. The main difference between the two types of signs and how they are policed is between the fines that can be given by the DOB sign enforcement unit. For an illegal advertising sign, the fine can be $25,000.00. For improper use of an accessory business sign, the fine is on par with a traffic ticket. If the local business is caught improperly using an accessory business sign for advertising, NPA can handle paying these tickets since they charge about $5,000.00 - $6,000.00 a month per location and pay local landlords about $120.00 per month.
The last thing we learned and maybe the most interesting is that from the landlords I've talked to, they have no idea that any of this is going on. In fact Contest Promotions is applying for accessory business signs without the landlords or business owners even knowing about it. And the worst part about this deplorable behavior is all being done to bypass the laws we have put in place as a city concerned about the over proliferation of outdoor advertising. On top of this it is being done under the guise of a company that pretends it is helping the city by promoting local businesses. Ask East Village Farms, the business located at 98 Avenue A, which has 10 $25,000.00 fines pending due to illegal signage operated by NPA and Contest Promotions, if they feel like the whole scheme is helping them out.
I'm not exactly sure what the next course of action is at this point but it would seem outrage is an appropriate response. As we find this to be one of our more interesting posts in a while, please feel free to leave your comments for NPA and Contest Promotions.
Council Curtails Stores’ Use of Roll-Down Security Gates
So it seems Mr. Vallone thinks that getting rid of all the solid roll down gates in NY will curb our rampant graffiti problem by 80%. How he comes up with that number, I do not know. One thing I do know is that it will prevent some of the most recent efforts to use these gates as spaces for mural projects. Alas it will also prevent Michael Gitter and the Mediacy group from going ahead with plans to begin installing street level Gatescapes the legality of which is still to be determined. Unsure of how I feel about this new law, I will leave the criticism up to you. Read about it in the NY Times article below.
Citing high rates of graffiti, the City Council voted unanimously on Monday to gradually ban the use of roll-down metal security gates, a move that would eliminate what has been an enduring if forbidding feature of the urban streetscape. [MORE]
Art, Advertising, Activism and Alchemy was a small lecture series presented at the Wonderland Arts space in Queens New York. I spoke in part about my own work, but also attempted to define some of the reasons behind why we as artists, working without authorization in the public, do what we do. As well, how these motivations might inform our process and create works which go beyond that of typical street art and graffiti to engage the public more directly and increase the health of our shared public spaces. You can see all 4 artist's talks [HERE] A big thank you to Jason and PosterChild for inviting me to be a part of this event.
As I was trying to get a clear projection of my thoughts for this talk, I wrote down what I wanted to say beforehand. I speak quickly in the video and therefore am offering the text and slide show as a download for your enjoyment.wonderlandtalk.zip
Billboard Industry Uses Illegal Billboards to Promote CityBillboardTax.ca
In typical OOH advertising industry fashion, illegality abounds in Toronto. In an effort to convince the public that a small tax on billboard advertising will run the OOH business into the ground, OOH companies in Toronto have been hanging their own public service announcements around town. This is in spite of the fact that the city of Toronto, in an independent study sees the tax reflecting a mere 7% of the ad industries revenue. This is on top of the fact that the tax will go to supporting much needed public arts funding in Toronto. I can't even begin to explain the complexity of the *$%#storm surrounding this battle so I would suggest going straight to the source if you have any interest.
Less Billboards, More Art! Please Support This Cause
Toronto is a city filled with illegal outdoor signage and antiquated sign laws. Rami Tabello of illegalsigns.ca has been fighting to change these laws and it looks as if they will make headway this morning morning at 9:30 am when the debate over the Signs By-Law and Billboard Tax will take place. The post below via the View on Canadian Art blog briefly describes how these new taxes and Sign By-law might further the arts agenda in Toronto and bring public content to the forefront of public space.
This just in from the Department of Culture, a community of artists and arts professionals who organized themselves in the wake of the Harper Government’s brutal cuts to the arts in the past year, in order to ensure “the social and cultural health and prosperity of our nation in the face of a Federal Government that is aggressively undermining the values that define Canada.” [MORE HERE]