<body> Public Ad Campaign: May 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.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Voice of Art - Street Art vs. Illegal Billboards, Pt. 1

Many PublicAdCampaign readers are aware of the fact that LA has been battling its billboard epidemic for some years now, grappling with the proliferation of illegal signage, digital signage, and the supergraphics which overwhelm its skyline. Once the mural capitol of the world, LA's artistic legacy was challenged by the OOH industry when it claimed that by allowing the widespread proliferation of artistic content and not commercial content, that the city was unconstitutionally infringing on the industries free speech rights. The result has been a change in the city's zoning code which now consider's artistic murals in the same way it does commercial billboards. The result has been the removal of artistic murals which have not sought out permits and the wholesale arrest of artists and public individuals. This while somehow the OOH industry continues to proliferate its illegal content. Cops go after the artists and the 3 city buildings inspectors do their best to keep up with an army of an industry intent on overrunning the city of LA with messages for conspicuous consumption at the cost of public free speech and the publics freedom to visually curate its shared environment. 

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Friday, May 25, 2012

OX and BLA Collaborate in Paris

As Always, OX and BLA collaborative ad takeovers make my day. Enjoy!

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Ban Billboards, Fund Journalism!

Scanning Monday's headlines, you may have spotted Postmedia's announcement it will cancel its wire service and cut 25 jobs. The news comes less than a month after the Vancouver Sun and Ottawa Citizen introduced online paywalls to combat a steep decline in print ad revenue. More [HERE]

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Subvertisement - New Work From Mobstr

New work from Mobstr uses the lingo of ad takeover artists to jab the industry. Love it.

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Vitamin Water Subway Double Frame Ad

This subway ad for Vitamin Water makes nice use of the double frames and caught my eye this afternoon.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Electric Signs - The Documentary by Alice Arnold

A friend of mine, Alice Arnold, has launched a kickstarter campaign worthwhile supporting. Her documentary, Electric Signs, dives into our illuminated world and asks what affects these intermediary screens play in our lives to come. I've seen the rough cut and it is shaping up to be a fantastic resource. Pledge to her Kickstarter campaign [HERE] and help Alice finish off this film the way it deserves.

In her own words:

ELECTRIC SIGNS is a feature documentary that started several years ago in Hong Kong on a Fulbright Fellowship (Filmmaking), and has since expanded to include many more cities, such as Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Tokyo and Prague. In all of these cities new screen based sign systems are putting TV-style advertising into the public domain. These electronic signs are re-shaping urban environments and re-defining areas of public space by intensifying the commercialization of the public sphere. In addition to the explosion of screens in public spaces, screens are ubiquitous in workspaces and in our daily life activities. These seamless, illuminated electronic surfaces are becoming the devices through which we frame our experiences. ELECTRIC SIGNS explores this new screen culture as it unfolds in the global city.

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This Column Is Not Sponsored by Anyone

Below is a quote from an interesting Op Ed by Thomas Friedman. It suggests, with a great level of clarity, that the proliferation of advertising is evidence of the over marketization of our daily lives and that this is restricting our social cohesion. Definitely worth a read. 
"Why worry about this trend? Because, Sandel argues, market values are crowding out civic practices. When public schools are plastered with commercial advertising, they teach students to be consumers rather than citizens. When we outsource war to private military contractors, and when we have separate, shorter lines for airport security for those who can afford them, the result is that the affluent and those of modest means live increasingly separate lives, and the class-mixing institutions and public spaces that forge a sense of common experience and shared citizenship get eroded."

PORING through Harvard philosopher Michael Sandel's new book, "What Money Can't Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets," I found myself over and over again turning pages and saying, "I had no idea." Full Article [Here]

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OX in Angers for Artaq

A simple OX ad takeover to start your weekend. See more incredible pieces from his work for Artaq in Angers [HERE]

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In SF, billboards proliferate, despite voter-approved ban

As many PublicAdCampaign readers know, litigation against offending outdoor advertising companies can be a long and arduous affair for the lawyers tasked with upholding the law. This article from the Bay Citizen proves this fact once again, citing the work of two of the most difficult outdoor advertising firms, Fuel and Contest promotions. These companies actions are not isolated to San Francisco but are similarly represented in NY, LA, Chicago and other major metropolitan cities around the US.

VIA: The Bay Citizen

When Milo Hanke moved from Boston to San Francisco in 1982, he found a city in need of improvement.

“This was the most charmed and enchanted city,” Hanke recalled, “but there were certain urbanscapes I really enjoyed at night that were blocked by signs. I dreamed one day there would be no billboards.” More [HERE]

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Virtual Murals for Real-Life Buildings

Big thanks to Emily Badger for writing this nicely informed explanation of what we are trying to do with the Re*public Mobil App. 
If you want to paint a public mural, you will need at least several of these things: money, connections to someone who has money, a building, or permission to use someone else’s. Oh, and lots and lots of paint. For all of these reasons, public art is a lot harder to come by in most cities than its commercial counterpart: billboards, fliers, and advertisements. More [Here]

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Citibank Pays to Put Name on Shared Bikes

This is an utter travesty. I hope these bikes are immediately re-imagined by the public to the extent that Citi is forced to relinquish control. A bike share program is for the people, why shouldn't it reflect their imagination. 
It will still be months before they are available for rent, and a few days before their precise locations will be revealed. But the 10,000 bicycles in New York’s much anticipated bike-sharing program have a name: Citi Bike. More [HERE

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Re*public Mobile App is a Reality

Today HeavyPAC launched our demo version of the Re*public mobile application with the help of MOMO who offered us designs from which we rendered some 3D forms. The application takes advantage of Augmented Reality and its ability to "recognize" objects in our environment. Once recognized the application presents digital content over the recognized object allowing us to create murals with all of the standard digital bells and whistles, sound, 3D, movement, interactivity, web access, etc. With this soft launch it is our hope to get some institutional support so that we can bring a large scale mural project to NYC with the appropriate production values and artistic works. As we develop things further we will keep you posted of our progress and any new AR capabilities that we put into play.
What is truly exciting for me about this new tech is its reproducability. Like the digital music copy, giving an AR location to someone else to use does not prevent your own continued use of the site. By developing AR trigger sites around NY, Re*public is building an infrastructure of AR sites which can be repurposed by many institutions and individuals. This allows for an incredibly open and democratic form of access to public space curation and one which leaps over the current issues of private property and monetary monopolization. In the future I hope that advertisings monopoly will be broken by the public's ability to curate its own visual public space.

Re*Public Website + Demo Video

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Saturday, May 12, 2012

Illegal Ads on SoHo Building Prompt a Record Fine

Outdoor advertising giant Colossal media does things olds school, painting instead of hanging their advertising contents on the sides of NYC buildings. While their methods of installation might be different, their approach to using public space reflects the industry wide standard of "we do what we want until you make us do otherwise." treating public space as a pillage-able commodity like any other. 
Some outdoor advertising companies regard municipal fines for illegal signs as just another cost of doing business. New York City is suggesting they think again. The cost has now reached six figures. More [HERE]

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The Street Hacker, Officially Embraced

In the following article Emily Badger makes some interesting points about what it might look like if we had a public environment which could respond more flexibly to public demands for change and alteration. Mostly this comes in the form of a more responsive government and flexible municipal code and does not reflect the sort of larger critiques that constituted the NYSAT event. That said a more involved public presence in the curation and presentation of public space is at the heart of the PublicAdCampaign project. If we had more access to altering our environment it would be easier to psychologically connect with the infrastructure and people around us. To me this can only lead to tighter knit communities. 
By Emily Badger

Inside the civic digital space, anyone can download a public dataset, build an app, share it with others. There are no permit fees, no regulations to research, no paperwork to file. You don’t have to trudge to City Hall. Everything is (or at least, it should be) open. More [HERE]

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


While I am a full supporter of the bike share program in NY, having made good use of similar programs in other European cities, New York's share is shaping up to be a branded nightmare. You might say that branding the bike share program is the only way we can afford it, to which I call bullshit, but I would like to suggest another version of the share program still sponsored by Citi Bank. Why doesnt Citi bank give the city 41million to start the program and leave the damn bikes unbranded, make it very clear that they donated the money and have no plans of splashing their gaudy logo over everything. Then they can sit back and watch as the world applauds their actions and willingness to help NY altruistically resulting in a better business client relationship and a less obtrusive bike share program for all. 
The mayor’s office recently announced its plan to install 10,000 bicycles at a total of 600 bike share stations throughout the city in July, and yesterday, the look of the bike share was revealed. They’re basically electric-blue Citibank ads on wheels. Citibank invested $41 million in the bike share program, to be called “Citi Bikes.” More [Here]

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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Ban Outdoor Advertising - Via the Guardian

A recent article in the Guardian written by Neal Lawson inspired this post. The article is a pretty straight forward attempt to argue that the public should be weary of a shared environment riddled with advertising. In fact it points to some of the same arguments I also brought to bear on the topic as I began to wonder early on if an outdoor advertising rich public environment could be fought. That main argument is choice. With the negative affects of the desire machine relatively well understood, one would imagine that opting out of the onslaught of psychologically abusive imagery should be high on our priority list. Not so. Mr. Lawson goes on to point out the very small number of cities and states around the world which have chosen to take such bold action. Outdoor advertising, for all its unavoidable pandering to our basest emotions, is after all widely accepted as inevitable and a part of the well oiled machines we call cities. How this came to be is less about the publics lack of determination, ability to stand ground against monolithic commercial forces, but rather failure to articulate the problem at hand. After all there has not been a serious unified resistance to the abusive corporate regimes that call themselves the OOH advertising industry. And why should there be? To many the problem is an insignificant blip on their political radar. Yes, advertising is bad and can cause serious emotional depression and physical health issues, It has been shown to increase your self interest while decreasing your ability to sympathize with others. And yes, there are correlations between advertising consumption and economic stability which would make you very uneasy as you let the prime-time advertising wash over you, your wife, and your 2.5 children happily nestled on the couch, remote in hand, enthralled by the latest Dramedy, in a house that you don't own yet. But the lack of conversation around these issues is astounding and one cannot expect the public to demand the end to a problem they truly don't know exists. 

And so many people do not consider public advertising an issue but rather a necessary outcome of living in a commercial world. An evil we must bear, if not grow to love by heralding it when it decides to donate a insignificant fraction of its business to cultural exchange our laud its behavior as part of what keeps our urban infrastructure intact. Listening to some OOH advertisers you would think our bridges would crumble and the island of manhattan would sink beneath the waves without the strong economic arm of the ad industry to prop it up. We seem not only to ignore the negative issues associated with surrounding ourselves with images that promote conspicuous consumption but more and more we have been programed to justify its existence as integral to what a city is. In this climate it is no wonder outdoor advertising expands its hold on the facades of our buildings, and our collective consciousness. 

What I found interesting about Neal's article wasn't his critique of outdoor advertising, but his understanding of the political implications of the public banning its use of our shared public spaces. He writes.
A ban would be aesthetically, culturally and environmentally right. But it's what it says about us that matters too. It would be a sign of collective and democratic power over the market. It would be a signal that says the public interest trumps private interest. That the freedom to be fully human, and not just be subjected to an endless onslaught of adverts, should come first. That we are citizens more than we are consumers."
Holy shit! "collective and democratic power over the market"? "public interest trumping private interest"? These are the words of revolution and yet all he is talking about is removing some pictures from the walls of our cities. Why is such strong language of resistance so apt in this situation?

In a gross oversimplification, David Harvey, whose lifelong interest in how cities are organized has written at length about how cities are made largely of people who lack a say in how the place they live is organized. At the heart of the outdoor advertising issue is this larger problem of creating a city environment in which each of us has agency. If outdoor advertising has a qualitative negative affect on each of us, it should be expected that we would simply call for its removal in an effort to promote our individual and collective interest and that would be that. The vinyl, wheatpaste, digital screens and the like coming down with a whimper and not a bang as the public made a decision to better its surroundings and therefor itself. 

And yet this has not and will not happen in our current political climate. I have been working at this issue as an activist artist and NYC resident for nearly 10 years now with little to no progress in the right direction. (Don't worry, im not gonna jump off a bridge for lack of results to what increasingly seems like a lifelong project.) Our cities are not organized around the collective but the individual, or often corporate. The few make large policy decisions for the rest of us which often benefit them greatly and have no affect or negative affects on the rest of us. While I hate to bring the OWS and the 99% into this blog's rhetoric, it seems appropriate for this post. Our cities, to function for all of us, must include outlets for all of our voices. These outlets should not only exist but function outside of political and economic machines which can skew policies in directions which are not of our collective will. 

As the article points out, citizens of Bristol have launched a campaign "Bristol: the city that said no to advertising". As they gain traction and provide a voice for this issue it will be interesting to see how the city responds. One would expect the city council to simply comply with the demands of its citizenry as that would be indicative of a council representing the publics interest and not the privates. Most likely this campaign will be met with much resistance by those whose economic interest in keeping advertising in public gives their voice more weight and a louder decibel level with which to scream their private demands, proving once again that private interest trumps public interest and not the other way around. 

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Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lessons in Advertising Volume Two - Mobstr

Mobstr is at it again, updating his "Lessons in Advertising" series with these two new pieces. Mobstr has the uncanny ability to boil down what can often feel like a complex campaign to overwhelm your subconscious mind, into the simplest tactics used by the outdoor advertising industry. With this new piece he gets at one of the most prevalent advertising strategies, illuminating not only the reason for advertisings interest in overwhelming you, but also the lack of any meaningful content associated with most outdoor advertisements. There are some very interesting developments happening in the anti outdoor advertising campaigns of the world these days that I think the constant reminders by artists like Mobstr are helping to drive this newfound resistance. A big thanks to Mobstr for his incredibly adept work and to all of the people out there who are recognizing that a public consumed with conspicuous consumption is a public distracted from its duty to create a more meaningful public experience for each and every one of us. 

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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