<body> Public Ad Campaign: New Contest Promotions Signs Suggest Things to Come
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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

New Contest Promotions Signs Suggest Things to Come

Our good friend Charlie at Urban Prankster sent us this photo.

As many of our readers know, the original business responsible for this sign, NPA, now Contest Promotions, has been the focus of a lot of our attention over the past 2 years. Long story short, they have been operating street level billboards illegally in NYC for some time now. After a little Civil Disobedience and some attention from the DOB, Contest promotions created a bogus business model upon which they could attempt to legalize their illegal signage through a little slight of hand. The legal shenanigans included the addition of a small disclaimer to all of their illegal signage. This disclaimer, by their argument, converts these signs from 3rd party advertising to 1st party business signage. Meaning that those ads are actually representations of products available inside in the same way that a Citibank logo references available financial services or a giant ice cream cone represents the 26 flavors you can't wait to get your hands on. The recent addition of a more carefully worded disclaimer as well as the actual name of the store upon which the illegal billboard is affixed, can only mean one thing, legal proceedings.

It is in my non-professional opinion that a court case must be in the works and Contest Promotions is digging in for a fight. Why else would these signs appear on every single billboard overnight? The stakes are high for everyone involved. If CP wins and is allowed to continue operating on a business model whose sole purpose is to skirt NYC law we are all in a lot of trouble. This kind of decision would open the floodgates to outdoor advertising companies thinking up new and inventive ways to pretend their advertising is not advertising at all and therefore completely ignore all of the checks and balances we have as a city against this industry. If the city wins and is able to uphold its position as caretaker and ultimately decision maker as to how much and where outdoor advertising is allowed, we might see at least a temporary easement on the number of companies who think it is okay to make the city spend tax payer dollars to defend its right to control the proliferation of commercial messages in our city. While this issue is more than dollars and cents to me, when it comes down to it, there is a large national corporation trying to take advantage of our public space by subjecting us to commercial media for personal monetary benefit, and a city spending money it doesn't have to defend against this onslaught of personal gain.

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