<body> Public Ad Campaign: April 2012
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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

New ad disruptions by Kid Zoom

Looks like Kid Zoom has been at it again. Amazing and beautiful work.

VIA Vandalog
Kid Zoom just sent over these two ad disruptions that he put up in Melbourne. Wouldn’t the world be a nicer place if billboards were covered in Kid Zoom characters rather than cell phone ads? I think so. More  [HERE]

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VIA Animal New York

From the maker of the Baguette Pigeon Trap Florian Rivière, comes Advertising Carousel. The kinetic assemblage combines a spinning advertisement, shopping carts and babies. More [Here]

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Poster Giant in Seattle Found Destroying Public Art in thier Battle to Dominate the Visual landscape

In what I can only assume is similar behavior to NPA outdoor in New York, Poster Giant is wreaking Havoc on Seattle's public space and in the process destroying local culture, promoting conspicuous consumption and creating a few enemies. Sign the petition at Change.org to help the community express its outrage [Here] As reported in the local Straphanger, it seems the community is pretty upset. It will be interesting to see if the community can bar Poster Giant from operating as this is the type of control the public should have over how public space is used. I wish them all the luck in their campaign.
Poster Giant power washing their posters off of a mural they covered up after outrage amongst the community forced a quick response.

From the Change.org petition you should sign:

Poster Giant has a long and bad history in Seattle. They routinely destroy the work of D.I.Y. artists, organizations and businesses to further their own agenda of monopolizing public space in Seattle by preventing any posted advertisement (except their own) from being viewed. In the past (and recently), they have threatened community members with violence for even requesting politely that they not destroy their work.

Most recently, Poster Giant destroyed an amazing work of art in Pioneer Square. As expected, they took action only after receiving significant bad publicity, after the destruction was reported in the Seattle P.I., but anyone that knows this company, surely knows that they have used threats of violence and destructive retribution to further their cause of monopolizing our public space. This cannot be tolerated: Poster Giant must stay within the bounds of the law, and must renounce the violence and destructive retribution that they have utilized as their business model.

If Poster Giant refuses to comply, then we must take firm action and rebuke their tactics through a meaningful grassroots campaign to bring awareness of their tactics to those whom count most: Their own clients.
Join me in forcing Poster Giant to play by the rules.

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Ikea Street Art Campaign

Ikea's idea of "activating" a typically dull outdoor advertising campaign. 

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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. 

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Unusual Unrelated Advertising Synchronicity

I found this image on one of my friends Facebook accounts. He writes "I love it when an advert answers another's question" Hilarious.

Monday, April 23, 2012

I Wrote This A long Time Ago - Something Special Or Something Old?

I wrote this a long time ago and am now revisiting it for unknown reasons….thank you paper girl #5

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Really heineken? Its degrading enough to be force fed endless campaigns for brand name beer and clothing stores, but to then be mocked by this truth guised as a cinema worthy event is preposterous. Sure, "life is cinema" or however the quote may go, but the burden of commercial media on public space and the resulting social issues are real.

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Specter Hand Painted "Billboard" for Open Walls Baltimore

Specter hand painted this "billboard" for Open Walls Baltimore. With so many mural projects brightening our cities these days, Open Walls Baltimore artists are making some of my favorite mural work out there. 

Billboard Takeover San Francisco

Saturday, April 21, 2012

OX Collaboration - 2012

Was doing some website updating and thought I would post this image from OX of a collaboration we did in Paris. This piece is part of a larger series of collaborations that OX is doing with other takeover artists. Enjoy!

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Energy You're Up - Breaking Frames for Attention

While I don't appreciate the intrusion, this Vitamin Water campaign does a nice job of breaking the traditional subway ad frame to draw your attention. Reminds me of a piece I did ages ago.

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

44th Street and 11th Avenue

A good friend of mine sent me this photo from 44th street and 11th avenue in New York City. I cant imagine what this is advertising, which makes me think it might be a permanent install. Odd, yet unassuming, I love it. A blissful omission of imagery that still invokes thought.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sometimes the Most Simple Alteration is the Most Poignant

Monday, April 16, 2012

Movie posters worth $450K stolen; SF Valley man arrested

Considering my disdain for outdoor advertising and the use of our shared common spaces as commercial insertion points for the ever expanding corporate intrusion into my life, I applaud this man. His actions, probably unbeknownst to him or at least coincidentally, are an appropriate social response to the incursion of outdoor media. The fact that this man is able to steal 3000 posters from bus shelters should speak to the volumes of media we are consuming on a daily basis. While his actions will most likely go punished they present a unique opportunity to understand what some artists have known for a long time. (or what some artists semi plagiarized from... this guy.) Either way, ads in public are not private property, rather unauthorized intrusions into your subconscious from deeply private interests. Each should be treated with little appreciation if not outright disrespect.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A San Fernando Valley man may end up in prison for stealing movie posters, including some for "The Hunger Games."

Christian Eric Stevens is charged with snagging more than 3,000 movie posters from bus stops to sell them online. Officials say the posters, worth an estimated $450,000, were stolen between June 3, 2011 and March 27, 2012.

He pleaded not guilty to grand theft on Thursday.

Police say they purchased a poster from the 36-year-old before discovering a trove of others in his home.

If convicted, Stevens could get five years in prison.

(Copyright ©2012 KABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012


I would say it's common knowledge that phonebooths in New York functional almost entirely for the purpose of advertising these days. Cell phones have become the defacto way of contacting someone outside of the home, if not entirely, rendering the pay phone obsolete. In an effort to re imagine the pay phones relevance in the digital age, City 24x7, in conjunction with the City of New York, will soon pilot a digital kiosk pay phone format at 100 locations around the city. While the functions of these kiosks sound pretty run of the mill, included in the package is a bit of big brother Im not so sure Im comfortable with. Pay phones which house the new digital kiosks will also be fitted with cameras and recording devices to take note of any suspicious activity. hmmmm…
If cell phones have rendered public phone booths obsolete, adding smartphone-like capabilities to the booths may bring them back. New York City-based media company City 24x7 is starting a pilot program in May that will install sophisticated Internet-enabled touch-screen machines in existing phone booths. [MORE]

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Creative or Waste of Money? Who Cares Its a Brilliant Plot Point

Hyper Vocal asks the benign question of whether or not this billboard stunt by McDonalds is cost effective. I could care less. What it makes me think of is a dystopian society of daytime and nighttime dwelling societies living entirely different socioeconomic lives. Those damned to the night slaving away to keep the daytime world running to the highest standards. The privileged day dwellers walking streets devoid of advertising, while the night dwellers wake to a world of glowing commercial messages tearing at their subconscious and keeping them in a constant cycle of desire without fulfillment. Mmmmmm that's good fiction.
VIA Hyper Vocal
If you’re driving down this Vancouver highway during the day, it will appear as if the billboard you’re passing is available for rent. It’s white. There’s nothing on it. More [HERE]

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Highline Billboard Hosts David Shrigley

New Work by David Shrigley at the Highline Billboard.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

The Hidden Persuader and Persuaded but Hidden

I get myself into some trouble at the end of this rant so any marketers out there that hate PublicAdCampaign should read on till the end.
I get a subscription to Cabinet Magazine, a "culture" quarterly that I anxiously await every few months. To call it a magazine is really a mistake as its contents can run the spectrum from sociological studies, to scientific journalism, from investigative mischief, to simply undefinable. While I enjoy it on many levels sometimes the topics can be obscure and in their obscurity, unrelated to my direct interests. That said, in issue 44 I was treated to not one, but two articles about advertising. The first about the hidden persuader Ernest Dichter, and the second about a town in Spain that Sony painted blue to promote their movie The Smurfs. I suggest picking up a copy and reading both articles in their entirety, but ill make two random comments about each of them below.

As the first article goes, advertising grew of age alongside psychoanalysis and the two married nicely. Appealing to our subconscious, advertising messages aimed less to inform and more to excite our inner fantasies, our desires, and our needs. Ernest Dichter was a huge proponent of this method of encouragement and did well manufacturing self indulgence and erotic satisfaction through conspicuous consumption. In fact he thought that the bulwark against fascism was in fact the consumptive process which drove the free enterprise and provided our democratic lifestyle. In what seems today like a delusion he writes ...
"Our Role, as scientific communicators, as persuaders, is one of liberating these desires, not in an attempt to manipulate, but in an attempt to move our economic system forward and with it our happiness. …The real definition of happiness is what I call constructive discontent. Getting there is all, not just half, the fun. Stress and insecurity and whatever its labels may be, are the most beneficial movers and springs to our life: Trying to reach a goal but having the goal recede is the real mystery of happiness."
Dichter seems to be suggesting that the key to happiness is a hamster on its wheel, forever running to infinity. I think we can all agree that this is preposterous, but it is important to remember that these thoughts informed the developing industry we now call advertising. In defense, we have become much more savvy viewers and I would say our conscious understanding of advertisings manipulations allows us to gain perspective and step off the wheel as it were. This is one of the reasons PublicAdCampaign promotes an ad free public space as one of the last respites from corporate hegemony. That said, it is a fight to remain outside the influence of advertising messages, which is important in retaining a perspective on true happiness. A life lived that doesnt involve the constant pursuit of an ever receding goal.
The second article brings me into some murky waters. It's about a fantastic little village called Juzcar in southern Spain. In 2011 Sony painted the entire village Pitufo blue as a publicity stunt to promote its then upcoming movie, The Smurfs. The contract included a clause that Sony would return the village to its former white state after an allotted amount of time. As it turned out the economically depressed village saw a spike in tourism and an unexpected turn for the better for many of the residents. The local pub was packed, restaurants boomed, and accommodations were taken in vast numbers for a sleepy little village. In fact, residents spoke of an increased general happiness amongst most of the population, attributed to their recent economic fortunes, but also to the healing powers of the color blue. All in all things were better off with the presence of the Smurfs and by extension, Sony. When the time came to paint the village back to its original white, the residents opted to leave the blue paint indefinitely.
Typically my first reaction to a publicity stunt like this would be to cry foul and reprimand Sony for taking advantage of a small village on hard times. I would condemn the marketing gurus who dreamed up the idea that defaced local heritage and made an eyesore of a once respectable community for personal gain. But given the turn of events laid out in the article I simply cant. Sure this would have been different if the tourism was tied to oversized billboards, inflatable Smurfs, and more egregious displays of marketing propaganda, but the marketing was ultimately only two coats of paint, the color of which created a measured increase in happiness. How can I condemn that?
Which leads to the problematic topic of how one might allow marketing dramas to unfold in our everyday lives which do not overwhelm us but somehow have positive results? I think the answer lies in companies doing something good and not taking credit for it, rather letting the credit be bestowed by the community. This is in some way an answer I have come to before, and one which seems like a viable strategy for marketing in the future that does not abide by the in your face methods which dominate today. Is there such a thing as a marketing campaign which does not ask to be recognized for its positive accomplishments? and could that campaign be productive and profitable for the company involved?
I think this article suggests that maybe there is. What if Sony went in and simply painted all the towns in that area of Southern Spain blue only because it would be a spectacle and at the same time a psychological experiment in color theory? What if they did not promote that program but let the world find out about its real positive outcomes through social media? What if Nike sponsored an inner city youth photo program and displayed those photos on billboards but made no mention that they were involved? What would altruism in its purest form look like as an ad campaign and how would its benefits and ultimately profits differ from the traditional marketing methods. I think in an age of discontent with advertising ubiquity, alongside the rise of social media networks and their ability to spread ideas fast and efficiently, that marketings future could look a lot more like social responsibility rather than the spectacles of attention hungry mega corporations.


NEKO Was Here - Months of the Year

NEKO has been at it again with a long time collaborator ROSH. This piece in particular stood out to me as it suggests he will be back at this location month after month. I look forward to March and beyond.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Desire Obtain Cherish - Is This Illegal?

More fantastic work from Desire Obtain Cherish shows the inner workings of a billboard alteration and in the process of doing so calls out LA's rampant illegal signage problem.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

FAT Introduces a Subway Ad Modification Kit - Subpixel

The Free Art & Technology group otherwise known as FAT brings you the latest in subway ad modification equipment. By swiping the array of razors over an advertisement twice at perpendicular angles, one creates Pixels" to be moved around as the individual sees fit, spelling words or repurposing sections for creative mashups. If you simply went nuts on an advertisement and swiped the razor array many times you might create small enough pieces to literally draw if you had the time, and you would also really piss off the guy who had to remove the advertisement once its run was up. I don't suggest doing that. See what they have to say below.
subpixel is built from laser-cut acrylic, rubber bands, and nine razor blades. In two quick swipes, it transforms a small patch of subway advertisement from a “one-way, unending flow of shit” into an 8×8 grid of pixel stickers, ready for two-way interaction with the public. Download the files for laser cutting here.

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Running With Rocky - Together We Make Dreams Come True

I am proud to announce I am part of a group show at HLP in Brussels which opens April 14th. The show focuses on 4 artists (Zoe Strauss, Joroen Jongeleen, Abner Preis, and myself) whose process of art making directly involves the public, asking viewers to become complicit in the act of creating the final work. For more information you can read about the individual artists and the exhibition in the Full PDF flyer [HERE]

the Jazz Scene: (Presented with a 4 minute video of the acquisition of the frame in which this piece was made.)

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      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