<body> Public Ad Campaign: February 2010
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Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Streetscapes on Historic Manhattan Buildings

Walking around New York, it isn't hard to come by an illegal Streetscape. This recent abomination for Dockers is at 11-19 east 4th street which happens to be a historic building. Oddly as I went to find the exact address through Google maps, I realized it has had advertising copy adorn its landmarked walls before. We called this one in and received complaint # 1276501.

While we were trolling around on Google maps we also ran across this random Streetscape for the History Channel at 384 west Broadway. Who knows when this one went up but we have added both to our growing StreetScape Map of illegal signage.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Unwelcome Mats And Other CityEvention Campaigns

Remember these stupid door mats for Direct TV? They appeared about a year ago for a guerrilla marketing campaign and we never found out the responsible party. Just yesterday a reader sent us a few links about another "street mat" campaign that appeared recently on the upper west side of Manhattan.

In fact one of the links was to a New York Times article about the illegal advertisements. In the article Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said

"It was “an unauthorized ad,” he said, adding that another had been placed outside an entrance to the station at 79th Street and Broadway. Transit officials “reached out to the Beacon Theater” with a request to remove them, he said, although he said it was not clear whether “we took them out ourselves, or they did.”

So who was responsible for the safety liabilities? Well the reader who contacted us had found that on the CityEventions twitter page they remark "Our Banana Shpeel decals get a NY Times mention." This is funny cause they are coy about the whole thing on the CityEventions Facebook page where they seem not to know the culprit "The Upper West Side now OFFICIALLY welcomes Banana Shpeel.. awesome decal. I wonder who put it there...?"

These tactics seemed reminiscent of another outdoor advertising company we take issue with in New York, City Outdoor, which is actually NPA City Outdoor. Sure enough on the CityEventions Facebook page they draw a connection when they talk about the "Love it or Hate it Campaign."

"This campaign was run for City USA this past summer. It showcases how City Eventions is able to team with City Outdoor and other City USA constituents, to pull off a killer campaign that integrates traditional and non-traditional advertising"


We then went to the CityEventions website and even more insanity popped up. Apparently they are responsible for a recent dye-cut cutout campaign for Do Denim. These life sized busts were simply strewn around the city, attached to construction awnings for passersby to run into. As we are faced with yet another guerrilla marketing campaign that is little more than abusive street art, the question of why we allow this type of corporate behavior and yet criminalize street art and graffiti resounds in my head. This question is particularly perplexing when you think that policing this corporate graffiti should take nothing more than a phone call to the offending company.

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Friday, February 26, 2010

This Could Be The Biggest Ad Ever Erected

Animal New York reports that this "20-story couple can be seen discerned from five kilometers away." It may be the biggest outdoor advertisement on Earth but proposed plans in 1999 for Moonvertising would have dwarfed this little puppy.

"Moonvertising involves shining a powerful laser at the moon and projecting an advertising message that can be seen from around the world. Coca-Cola tried to do it in 1999 as the millennium approached, but the FAA was worried about interference with aircraft (i.e. "cutting flying airplanes in half")."

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Mr. Di Maggio Hard At Work

We saw Mr. Dimaggio's work a few weeks ago via streetsy. After checking his website we realized he had done more than a few ad takeovers and didn't look like he was planning on slowing down. We decided to contact him and see if this work was an intentional use of advertising space in an effort to cover the ads or merely a result of practicality. His response answers our question, and we look forward to seeing more ad takeovers happening soon.

"Milano is completely bombed with advs, this fact makes me sooo sick because the city is not big and there are billborads with gucci, prada and shit every 5 meters...people in milan is really influenced by advs trust me!!!!! I have started with the take overs last September because I think that is my little help to make Italian people think a lot more about what's happening around us right now!!!!"






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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Major Campaign Donors, Friends of City Council Members Have Connections to Rogue Sign Company Named by City Attorney in Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuit

As per usual, Ban Billboard Blight gets right to the point when revealing outdoor advertising's soft underbelly. Here they expose NPA, a company we have been at odds with in NY, for the ad pushers they are, citing over $85,000 in campaign contributions to the city of LA. As Ban Billboard Blight has their hands full in LA, we can only hope that their progress on the west coast stirs action on ours.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Peter Zackery, president of National Promotions and Advertising (NPA), a company specializing in poster-style advertising on construction fences and billboards on outside walls of liquor stores, donut shops and other small businesses, is one of the defendants in the major lawsuit filed this week against World Wide Rush, a company accused of putting up numerous illegal supergraphic signs. Another NPA executive, Gary Shafner, was not named in the suit, but is prominently mentioned in court filings in an unrelated case as having been involved in the initial establishment of World Wide Rush in the L.A. market three years ago. [More Here]

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

French Activists Mean Business

Paysages de France is a national group of French activists that take to the streets monthly to protest illegal signage. It seems like a rowdy good time that I would love to see happen more often stateside. According to our friend in Montauban, they are approaching their 26th "cover up" day which will be filmed by a national public TV channel. Amazing!

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Billboard Porn And Disobedience Call Attention To the Obvious

I just realized that the two posts before this one compliment each other nicely. In the first post, the authors of Property Outlaws put forth a theory that certain levels of property disobedience should be tolerated as they can often lead to the dissemination of information which serves a public good and thus outweighs the initial transgression. In the second post, we have a clear example of someone breaking property laws by hacking someones private property and using it for their own devices. Moscow's reaction is to punish this behavior, but if we think about the assertion Property Outlaws makes, this might not be the most appropriate response. In fact we might want to look at what "information" has been gained from this act of disobedience.

Advertising might not be as shocking as pornography but the intended result in this situation is the same, grab, and hold, a viewers attention for as long as possible. The fact that cars ground to a halt on a highway shows the digital video medium is affective, whether or not the content is equally matched is up for debate. I would mention that if advertisers could halt traffic with an ad campaign, they would jump at the opportunity. So if the interest is the same only advertising is less affective, what are we doing letting drivers be pulled from the duty at hand simply to sell them crap. We don't let people talk on cell phones, or even text for that matter. Why would we allow an ad company the right to distract, us even for a moment, just so they can sell us one more can of sugar water?

In this way I think the Moscow hactivist's dirty work constitutes a protest, interested in creating a public dialogue around the issue of digital advertising signage on highways. His act should not be looked at as someone harmfully breaking the law but rather someone using disobedience to open the eyes of the public to the potential dangers of digital signage on the road.

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Hacker Arrested in Billboard Porn Stunt

Remember the racy video billboard hack in Moscow? Well it appears they have arrested the man responsible for the fantastic stunt. The Moscow Times is reporting that "The incident prompted the Moscow Advertising Committee to ban video billboards on the streets of Moscow." but I can't find any information to corroborate this statement. If anyone finds information that upholds this statement, please send it our way.

The Moscow Times Reports

Police in the southern city of Novorossiisk have arrested a man accused of hacking into a video billboard in Moscow last month and showing a pornographic movie that spawned a traffic jam as curious drivers slowed to watch the film. [More Here]

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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Property Outlaws: How Squaters, Pirates and Protestors Improve the Law of Ownership

I just finished reading Property Outlaws by Eduardo Moises Penalver and Sonia Katyal. It is by far the most interesting book I have read in relation to the PublicAdCampaign project and unauthorized productions in public space. Although not directly about actions of this nature, the book begins to tease out the some of the reasons I think street artists, graffiti writers, and unauthorized public producers create their works, and do so without regard for the legal consequences. Very early on the authors state that "There is a difference between talking about something and being confronted with an actual example of it." And isnt that what most of us as artists are doing after all, creating an actual example of the streets we desire through our actions instead of talking about how wonderful they would be if only we were allowed to use them as we see fit. It is with this thought in mind that we take to the streets and confront a public space controlled by commercial messages, ready to condemn the behavior of public citizens, with alternatives that better suit the public's needs.

In particular, the book is an incredible resource for anyone walking treacherous legal lines in order to speak out on some larger issue. It is also a wonderfully counterintuitive look at how the law might require disobedience in some cases in order to better serve our changing cultural landscape. The authors argue that property outlaws are a resource to our legal system as they challenge our notions of right and wrong in ways that are exemplary and confrontational, providing us with an experience of alternative realities we might not otherwise be privy to. The book gives credence to something we have thought for a long time, and that is in order to facilitate change, often it is the responsibility of the public to create the world they think should exist instead of merely protesting the way things are.

Property Outlaws does focus on much larger transgressions than my personal work, the NYSAT projects, or street art for that matter, and I in no way draw comparisons between these projects and civil rights activists, or the drug patent violators that the book highlights. It does however contextualize the project in a long line of civil disobedience that the authors refer to as expressive outlaw behavior. That said I was excited to note that some of the same legal strategies might be applied to PublicAdCampaign's extralegal activities in order to justify our participants unique take on facilitating changes in the way public space is used. A small example of this being that we have at PublicAdCampaign implored the city on occasion to deal with certain illegal advertising problems, in particular NPA's egregious wide spread abuse of our public environment. These requests fell on deaf ears, and the NYSAT projects although partly meant to empower the individual to create change, were essentially our last option to call attention to this issue. In a situation like this where regular avenues have failed, Property Outlaws discusses legal strategies which may be used effectively, one example being, "The necessity defense [which] has been applied in state courts to immunize acts of criminal trespass, blocking traffic, defacing tobacco billboards, and supplying clean needles to drug users."

Anyways, I only got a tenth of what I should have out of this book and plan on reading it again immediately. If you would like a taste from the Huffington Post, you can read it [HERE]

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Monday, February 22, 2010

Anonymous Advertising Takeover In Amsterdam

We were just sent this ad takeover from an anonymous artist in Amsterdam. It is always interesting to see how much of this kind of "illegal" activity is happening around the world and how people are thinking critically about their relationship to commercial messages. Along with these images came a small blurb from the artist which I thought was worth including in this post. The artist is clearly critical of his or her work and understands that beyond getting rid of outdoor advertising, they are demanding a space that is "pro freedom and expression of the people." Thanks again to all those artists taking the time to challenge outdoor advertising's use of the public environment. Keep up the good work and continue to send us your imagery.
Being a graffiti/street artist with an activist background, the stuff that I do in the streets is very varied. But always one of my projects has been hijacking the space in the small billboards behind glass, the so called 'abri's, owned by JCDecaux, at least if they contained posters of commercial companies that want us to buy more stuff. Sometimes I replaced the posters with my own message, sometimes I just alter the poster itself. I attached some images of where I used origami to take the original poster and transform it into something different. It needs a minimum amount of time and materials, and it is great fun. However after some times I left this idea, as it doesn't seem to really work. The image of the abri with an origamied poster in it is just not challenging enough, it doesn't really stand out. I also had trouble thinking in which origami shape I should fold it, eventually I just used a star, being a kind of neutral but recognisable shape. Of course the message is more in folding it than in the specific folded shape, but still every shape I would take would be a bit random. However, still I thought sharing these images with you would be worthwhile. At the moment I am thinking of new ways to change these posters. It is not on a big scale at all but I believe someone needs to do it every once in a while, against commercial ads and pro freedom and expression of the people.


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Saturday, February 20, 2010

NPA contracts-Evidence of Extralegal Behavior

Over the years I have gained access to a few NPA City Outdoor contracts. I haven't posted them mainly because I thought it might just piss off NPA and not be of much interest to others. Recently I changed my mind due to the particularly fast removal of a project I just took part in, as well as a book I am reading which has strengthened my resolve. I will post on this book next week as I would like to finish it before giving my small review.

With the NYSAT Micro Site we have provided every scrap of evidence needed for the NYC Sign Enforcement Unit to go after NPA tooth and nail. The fact that the city has failed to challenge the company as an entity and still goes after individual signs is frustrating to say the least. It is incredibly hard to understand why the city wouldn't at least go after a minimum $10,000.00 fine at each of their 500 locations, resulting in 5 million in city revenue. Either way, I know the department is incredibly under staffed and is doing a difficult job, I just don't see why it isn't done smarter.

The first 4 contracts are between NPA City Outdoor and private landlords for the operation of illegal Wildposting on NYC construction sheds. These ads are across the board illegal because NYC does not allow this type of signage period. This fact is clearly state on the DOB website, yet here we are looking at contractual agreements for this type of signage as recently as 2009. Part of the reason this type of outdoor advertising is illegal is that it inevitably ends up in shambles blighting our city more than the advertising itself.

The first thing I would like to point out is the termination agreement which states, "Lessor or Lessee can terminate this agreement at any time after 30 days written notice. However Lessor cannot terminate this agreement for the purpose of replacing NPA's product with that of another advertising company." Really?

The second thing I will point out is the content restriction clause which states, "Lessee shall not permit any advertisement which contains lewd, lascivious, or pornographic content." I could care less about what some consider "lewd" material but I find it funny I have been staring at a bare breast for the past few weeks while the Diesel campaign has been up and running.



And finally this last contract is between Go Poster (Purchased by NPA) and East Village Farms at 98 Avenue A. This location is where 2 people were arrested during the first NYSAT project and has recently been removed by a landlord facing 250,000.00 in fines due to the illegal advertising. The landlord at this location speaks very little english and is having a hard time dealing with this violation. Meanwhile NPA, who also received $250,000.00 in fines has put their lawyer Robert Hochman on the case and will probably walk away from this little indiscretion unscathed. Upset yet? Compounding this situation is the fact that the landlord at 98 avenue A did not even sign this contract, and had no knowledge of the illegality of the signage. In fact it was a night employee who put their John Hancock on this "contract." If you were erecting a sign on my property would you ask a tenant to sign the contract? All of this is made more absurd by the fact that Contest Promotions Inc was in the process of applying for an accessory business sign permit at this location without the landlord or deli owners knowledge just prior to them removing it. Long story short, NPA and CPI are the same company. Operating illegal advertising signage is punishable with a fine of up to $25,000. If each location that now holds illegal NPA advertising had an accessory bussines sign permit for those structures, they could claim that they were merely "improperly" using these signs. The fine associated with improper use of a business sign is on par with a parking ticket.


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Friday, February 19, 2010

Faith47 Provides A Striking Alternative

Faith 47 is fast becoming one of my favorite artists world wide. Her incredible dedication to the street, and the people who her work comes in contact with, can be seen in every piece she does. Her use of public space is an inspiration to me and exemplifies what good can come when someone is allowed to create openly in our shared environments. From the intimate moments to the looming murals, her work is dead serious while being uplifting and filed with hope. She recently sent me some images that I would like to share with you in part because they are such wonderfully stark contrasts to the Supergraphics I saw in LA.

Faith 47 told us this mural is 12x18 meters and was create in Johannesburg.


This image is wonderful example of Faith 47's more intimate pieces.

In contrast to Faith 47's work I took all of these images from within a 100 yard vantage point outside of my hotel in West Hollywood LA. The almost carnivalesque nature these messages add to this environment is overwhelming and oppressive. I can only imagine what it might feel like if Faith 47 were allowed access to all these walls and what a different experience this space might be.





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Appeals Court Rules NYC Can Limit Billboards

The long standing battle between Metro Fuel and the City of New York has finally come to a conclusion. The result according to the AP...
"A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the city did not violate the First Amendment by limiting the number of billboards along its roadways and parks. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the city's goals of reducing visual clutter, improving the overall aesthetic appearance of the city and regulating traffic safety were reasonable."
Long story short, Metro Fuel erected hundreds of Metro Light structures in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and other major metropolitan cities. When New York went after the company in an effort to have them removed them, Metro Fuel cried foul and began a lengthy legal battle claiming they had the right to post advertising under the First Amendment. The full ruling, after incredible resources have been spent by the city, can be seen here.

As OAC's are not one to listen to the law in most cases, we were surprised to see the North Shore Neon Sign Co. decommissioning several signs on 21st street today. When asked, the crane operators said that they were in fact removing almost all of the signs from New York. Amazing! This is most likely because in NY, penalties for illegally operating outdoor signage are pretty hefty, when they are enforced. One can imagine that the revenue created by continuing to operate these illegal signs wouldn't make up for the massive losses incurred if the city decided to enforce their removal.

But what about other cities like San Francisco, and particularly like Los Angeles where the fines are not as hefty and where the simple task of locating all of these signs might cost the city hundreds of thousands in tax payer dollars? Will these signs come down? It would seem Los Angeles could demand their removal and forgo the treasure hunt but this is unlikely. Only time will tell how this situation will be dealt with and we will keep you informed.

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How Many Billboards?, Los Angeles

According to Unurth this morning, the How Many Billboards Project has begun. Not all of the artworks have been put up but I expect more will follow shortly. We are super excited to see LA begin to consider the role of media in public space and its tendency to obliterate other forms of visual practices. I hope a project like this can spark the imagination of many and allow them to ponder alternative uses of our shared environment.

VIA
Unurth

Kerry Tribe

For several days this billboard has been pleasing, entertaining and intriguing me.
I've finally found out that it's part of 'How many billboards?', a project by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. It's like a glossier, more authorized version of the New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT). (MORE HERE)

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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Ritual Project Vs A Love Letter For You

I was recently made aware of a very interesting art/advertising collaboration called The Ritual Project. In it, Stella Artois contracted Sky High Media, or Colossal Media, to paint each frame of a billboard sized time lapse, depicting "the perfect pour". Colossal media is co-founded by Adrian Moeller, who also co-founded Mass Appeal magazine in 1996, and is also the company responsible for the Banksy murals in Soho that appeared late in 2008. The project is as much about the team of mural painters as it is the advertisement, highlighting the skill involved in this dying artform. Watching the herculean task of painting each frame of the time lapse only to see it buffed before the next frame is painted, really gives you an incredible sense of the work and dedication it takes to create such large scale works. In fact the "performance" aspect of this project was well understood by Stella Artois, as evidenced by this tag line from the website.

"Whether pouring the perfect Stella Artois, or recreating it as a massive piece of art, the magic lies in watching it come to life."

I couldn't agree more. If there is magic associated with this project, it surely isn't in the final product. As a resident walking by this project as it took place over the many days required to complete the time lapse, I would have been excited. I would have been less interested in the image being created of a Stella Artois glass, but while the painters were racing against time, I could have enjoyed watching them play with the side of a building in such a creative way. After all, unless you knew about the project before hand, watching painters paint, then buff, then paint a nearly identical image over and over again would have been odd and amusing to say the least. In this way the project would have kept my attention and provided me with an interesting interaction in public space, something we continue to think has a positive affect on our public environment.

photo courtesy of Steve Powers

Another recent project you might know about is Steve Powers' A Love Letter For You in Philadelphia. This immense mural undertaking, created over 30 murals along the Market-Frankford elevated line in Philly. The project depicts a series of "love letters" or pronouncements of love with heartfelt sentiments like, "If you were here, I'd be home" and "Your everafter is all I'm after." Although I was not in Philadelphia for the production of these murals, I can imagine the performance aspect of the project was in some way similar to The Ritual Project. As a resident one would watch these murals going up one after the other, unaware of the intention behind them as they seem almost out of place in their sincerity and eloquence. As with the Ritual Project, one could enjoy the mystery of it all while watching the streets you live on change before your eyes.

photo courtesy of Steve Powers

Both projects to me provide a wonderful moment for public curiosity that enlivens public space creating a sense of interest in the public environment where there might not have been any before. What is interesting to me, and illuminates some of the differences between using the public space for advertising VS artistic production, is what is left behind. In the case of The Ritual Project, we are left with an advertisement, an expected call for our attentions, and an expected outcome in an environment often used as a venue to sell goods and services, and a disposable image. In the Love Letter project we are left with something much less fleeting. The murals are unexpected moments of kindness and their permanence allows us to enjoy this feeling on a daily basis as they become landmarks which define the neighborhoods in which they exist.

photo courtesy of Steve Powers

And this might be on of the most important differences between advertising billboards and artistic mural productions, despite them both being painted by highly skilled artists. Endurance, permanence, and investment are all qualities of the Love Letter Project that the Ritual Project lacks. Both projects may have been interesting to watch but what Mr. Powers has created will last and continue to give to the city long after the actual production is over. Not only do these murals become ways in which the public can identify areas of the city, but they begin to define the city more broadly. No one would say, "Take a right at the Stella Artois advertisement", but they might say "Take a right at the, 'For you I got daycare money and carfare honey for now on.'" mural. This is in part because advertisement is fleeting and makes no real investment in the space it occupies, but also because the artwork does just that and therefore becomes a part of the space in which it exists and the lives of those who live there.

photo courtesy of Steve Powers

The difference between these two projects I feel exemplifies why advertisement, no matter how interesting, beautiful, or artistic, falls short of using our public space in a meaningful way which ultimately adds to the city fabric. Public space can be used or spent in the typical sense, or it can be altered in ways which increase its value for everyone that interacts with it.

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