<body> Public Ad Campaign: A Case And Point at Kenmare and Bowery SWC
This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Case And Point at Kenmare and Bowery SWC

Earlier today I happened to pass by a NYC location I have become quite familiar with. Not long ago it held a large NPA advertisement that has been the target of a few of the public actions I've organized. This billboard came down recently and the wall sat empty for some time. Today I found out that it now holds a mural by an artist unknown to me. The progression of this wall speaks to a point I have made over and over again and that is central to my belief that outdoor advertising has no place in the public environment. I have long argued that not only does outdoor advertising have a negative psychological affect on the public, but it also has the undesired affect of reducing public use of public space by monetizing our cities surfaces and thus silencing those voices which cannot afford to pay for that space. Landlords would be foolish to not capitalize on their properties value and therefor the elimination of outdoor advertising must come with the elimination of any monetary incentives. Regardless, this wall is a microcosm of this idea, which would on a larger scale transform the city from a largely commercially based visual environment, to a public whose walls reflected the creativity and culture of the cities individuals.

Location progression over the last few years:
NPA operated 
  Enjoy Banking unauthorized reappropriation for NYSAT
Mr. Dimaggio unauthorized reappropriation
Empty location after first removal
Current state as of 4-25-12

Oddly enough this is the location where I really became aware that the company that operates these street level billboards was doing so illegally. Late one night I had been drinking in the LES. Heading towards the J train, I saw two workers posting advertisements at this location. I decided to see what they were up to and if they would talk to me. When I approached them they were very nonchalantly going about their job while smoking a joint, their pickup truck awkwardly parked half on, and half off the sidewalk. Around this time I was already under the assumption that not only the flyposting by NPA (now Contest Promotions) but the billboard postings like this one, were illegal. I began by asking about their job, how well they were paid, what the hours were like? etc. They were very forthcoming with me  and answered my questions while going about their bussiness. Feeling loose from the drinks I had had earlier, I decided to see if they would tell me a bit more as we seemed to be getting along quite well. Under the assumption that I was looking to apply for a job, I asked about why they worked at night and whether or not what they were doing was illegal. They seemed to take the question in stride, definitely not surprised by my inquiry. They said that every once in a while they were "hassled" by the cops and that they were taken downtown for illegal posting of signs. They were also quick to tell me that NPA lawyers were always jimmy on the spot with bail and that they received 500 dollars extra for the ordeal. 
Shortly after this conversation we launched NYSAT, several of my friends were arrested, but NPA's illegal use of public space was being rigorously inspected by the Department of Buildings. Not too long after that this sign came down, only to be up again for a short time, and then removed once more. It seemed the city had been able to enforce its laws and that NPA would be forced to shut down its bussiness. Alas this was not the case and NPA has become the fraudulently titled Contest Promotions. The company now operates under a new business model which has converted their inventory of 3rd party signage (commercial offsite advertising) to 1st party signage (onsite advertising for the business or operator at said location) in the eyes of the law. Contest Promotions purports to support local mom and pop businesses but are most often seen on the sides of parking lots and bars. As part of this new legal gymnastics, the company must operate a "contest" at the locations at which they have signage. Some of their old spots, including the one in this post simply do not comply with this new model and have therefore been permanently removed. While I wish the company would have not continued to bombard our streets with images of conspicuous consumption, I am happy that this location has proved a long held belief of mine. The elimination of outdoor advertising from our shared public environment would have a strong positive affect on the psychological environment we share as co-inhabitors of this great city. 

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home

      Sharon Zukin
      The Cultures of Cities

      Miriam Greenberg
      Branding New York

      Naomi Klein
      No Logo

      Kalle Lasn
      Culture Jam

      Stuart Ewen
      Captains of Consciousness

      Stuart Ewen
      All Consuming Images

      Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
      Channels of Desire

      Jeff Ferrell
      Crimes of Style

      Jeff Ferrell
      Tearing Down the Streets

      John Berger
      Ways of Seeing

      Joe Austin
      Taking the Train

      Rosalyn Deutsche
      Evictions art + spatial politics

      Jane Jacobs
      Death+Life of American Cities