Is NPA Shutting Down And Letting Contest Promotions Take Over?
Photo Shai Dahan, 37th & 3rd avenue
In the past few days I have noticed that in NYC a large number of NPA's illegal street level billboards have been covered with white paper. This comes in the wake of over 15 NPA ads in LA going white just over a week ago. The fact that the illegal billboards in NY and LA did not get new copy immediately after being whited out makes me think that this is NPA's doing and not the work of protestors. Why they are doing this I cannot be sure, but it should be noted that NPA's website is offline while their sister company, Contest Promotions, is still up and running.
18th street and 10th avenue
We all know NPA operates illegally in both cities so it might be expected that the recent removal of Fuel Outdoor ads due to their illegality, and the jailing of a landlord responsible for an illegal supergraphic in LA, has caused the company to shut down completely. If this were true, one would expect all of the companies illegal locations to be whited out, but that's not what we are seeing. In fact I have seen NPA locations around the city covered only sporadically. Sometimes from a single vantage point you can see one NPA ad that has been covered white and one that still retains copy. So what is going on?
I believe that NPA is finally shutting down and letting Contest Promotions takeover its illegal sign business. Through a twisting of words and meaning, the new business model adopted by Contest Promotions is attempting to legalize a portion of the illegal signage NPA was running. To understand what Contest Promotions does with NPA illegal signage in order to make them legal we suggest Ban Billboard Blight's post, "Contest Promotions Signs: Helping Mom & Pop Stores, or Creating Illegal Blight?"
If we are correct and Contest Promotions is taking over, only the signs that are placed on the sides of buildings where a viable business operates with an attendant on duty to man a bogus raffle box, would be legal. And indeed this is what we are seeing in most areas of NY. Locations like 19th street and 9th avenue (above) where there is a pizza shop open still have copy, while places like 37th street and 3rd avenue, which appears to be office space, have gone white.
Another way to tell if the NPA signage will likely fall into Contest Promotions hands under the assumption of legality, is by looking at the placards on all NPA signs. If the sign reads "Win these posters and other prizes inside, La Casa Del Pan, at 3802 Broadway avenue." or some other actual business, this sign will likely be taken by Contest Promotions. On the other hand, if the sign reads "Coming soon to this location, win these posters and other prizes inside." this location will not be viable as there is no business to operate their phony raffle boxes. From what we can tell those locations with a placard that refers to the business inside have retained copy while those without a valid business have gone white over the past few days.
Union avenue & Ainslie street
And if we are right about NPA going under and allowing Contest Promotions to takeover in a bid for legality, all of the wildposting locations around the city should be removed as Contest Promotions cannot justify this illegal activity. And sure enough, after the heavy rains last week I noticed many of the illegal wildposting locations NPA operated at construction sites and other locations around the city were either scrapped clean or postered white. It seemed that overnight many of the blatantly illegal wildposting locations were removed in a coordinated effort. I have seen people try to remove wildpostings from construction fences when they are dry and it is nearly impossible. I think NPA, knowing this, took advantage of the weather and removed illegal wildposting locations around the city knowing that they were going under and Contest Promotions was taking over.
14th street & 9th avenue
One last interesting thing we have noticed is that certain locations which could be operated by Contest Promotions under the guise of legality have still gone white. In the second image on this post you will see two NPA ads, one white, one with copy. They are both adhered to the same parking lot and one would assume they would both retain copy because there is a Contest Promotions raffle box at the parking agent house. It so happens that one of these locations is visible from the High Line park and because of this would be illegal under NYC law regardless of permitting, etc. We hope that this means that Contest Promotions will at least be operating within the confines of NYC law even if they are misconstruing the use of 1st party signage against all reason.
We can't say for sure that these NPA locations are without copy because of this transfer of ownership in an attempt to "go legal," but it seems likely. NPA has never been one to stand down without being pressured to do so. Recent litigation in San Francisco and a pledge from the city of NY to take the illegal public advertising issue more seriously, I believe has made it difficult for NPA operate so blatantly. We only hope that the efforts of hundreds of NYSAT participants, including those arrested by the NYPD for protesting the illegal signage, were in some way responsible for this change in direction and move towards a more commercial free public space.
We will keep you posted if things change, or our theory is proved correct. Until then we hope Contest Promotions looses its battle with San Francisco, and that their bogus scheme to keep operating a portion of NPA's illegal signage is proven to be just that, bogus.