I have been seeing these QR code based Calvin Klein billboards around town lately. In fact there is one directly across from my studio. I passed it off as another gimmicky way to get the public to ingest more commercial content than they could fit on a billboard. Turns out according to Gothamist
, they are actually hiding a very racy video that is too hot to grace the walls of our city streets. Of course they aren't really hiding anything because a simple smartphone unlocks the 40 second video, but thats neither here nor there.
Interestingly enough the use of QR codes seems like a great way to edit commercial content in public space while at the same time allowing it. For the longest time the public been forced to look at commercial content in public space with the only other option being to ban outdoor advertising altogether. This is a highly debatable topic, but through the use of QR codes we could have a city riddled with outdoor commercial content and at the same time not. Each small black and white code marking a billboard with commercial messages without actually visually assaulting your senses. A person would be able to opt in on the outdoor media in the same way that one is able to opt in with magazines, radio, and television, something just not possible while traveling through public space in our current environment.
Obviously outdoor advertising firms would not be okay with this because they want every impression they can get, not just those individuals that choose to take the time to absorb some nonsense about the newest incarnation of tequila. In fact, OOH media has been one of the fastest growing traditional medias in the last few years precisely because it cannot be skipped like commercial content on other platforms such as TV. Interestingly as an activist whose interest is in finding any way to remove the very private concerns of advertising in an effort to allow public thought to follow more collective interests, this becomes a valid middle ground upon which to make my demands.
So it is in fact possible to allow both the public and private interests to have a place in our public environment, albeit without the manipulative and often demanding tactics that media has often employed in public space to capture our attentions. Yet if this was the case, I would imagine the medium of outdoor advertising would be much less affective as citizens, through laziness or disinterest, ignore the private messages now strewn about our public environment. And doesn't that fact speak to the true intentions behind advertising media in general and make you think twice about allowing so much of our public space, and our public minds, to be inundated day in and out? Why if we really don't care to look at these things do we allow our subconscious to be bombarded by them so heavily?
Maybe it is because as a society we don't really think about outdoor medias effect, or comprehend the options and we might have to restrict it. Although with such high stakes for the quality of our public spaces, I can't imagine why we wouldn't.
Calvin Klein has a new racy billboard on Houston Street, but according to Stylelist, the company has censored their own campaign this time around. So prudes, just don't aim your smartphone in its direction and you'll remain pure.
Here's the deal: "Using QR technology, Calvin Klein's billboards in New York City (on Houston and Lafayette streets as well as West 20th Street and Tenth Avenue) feature red and white ads containing codes that can be read with one's cell phone to unlock the racy content, which, in this case, is a 40-second, uncensored commercial featuring model Lara Stone and a quartet of male models." You heard right, free porn on Houston and West 20th Streets! Not that that's really a new thing.
Still, get there before tomorrow if you're curious... the billboards will come down on the 15th. And don't forget to share with us @Gothamist (you can share via Twitter once unlocked). [via Racked]
Labels: billboards, New York, public advertising, random thoughts