Friday, September 18, 2009

Why Are You Using Up My Minutes HBO?

A few days ago I was walking through Williamsburg past a cheap furniture store on Grand street when I caught this flyer out of the corner of my eye. The hand made quality of the flyer juxtaposed with the celebrity Jason Schwartzman didn't make sense and I immediately knew something was amiss. I tore off the number and phoned this so called private detective right there on the spot. I suggest you do the same cause it was kind of amazing. An answering service picks up and Mr. Schwartzman's voice explains that he is an un-licensed private detective.
"If you have a problem, like a cheating boyfriend or girlfriend, or you have some kind of amnesia and you think you yourself are missing, I'm your man."
After a few more remarks he explains you can see him in action on such and such a night at such and such a time on the new HBO TV show Bored To Death.

With advertising budgets extremely low and revenues for outdoor advertising plummeting since the recession began, it seems OAC's are finding new and "exciting" ways to bring ad content to the streets for what would appear little to no cost. I'm assuming the printing of this ad campaign was done on a cheap Xerox machine and the company didn't pay for the location, probably because they didn't tell the furniture store that the flyer was for a new HBO series. It would seem this type of advertising is becoming a trend as this is not the first fake flyer I have seen around. Kelli Anderson of the Anti-Advertising Agency reported on a similar fake ad campaign for Courtney Cox's new show The Cougar, in which advertisements masquerade as real estate signs, shown here.

It's funny how some outdoor advertising these days is becoming so localized and specific to its environment it is starting to take on similar qualities to street art. I must say I had a good internal chuckle when Mr. Schwartzman ended his taped recording "And if this is Suzanne, which I hope it is, I haven't had any white wine or pot since you moved out." It's just disappointing when you realize this moment of serendipity and joy was created by someone trying to pull change out of your project for some corporation that couldn't give a shit about you.

The similar, yet ambiguous, street project seen here is a perfect contrast to this HBO outdoor advertisement. Call both numbers and see which one makes you think, and which one leaves you feeling taken advantage of.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Advertiser

It's amazing to think that one day the public will have to arm itself with something like this to combat the ever expanding outdoor advertising industries encroachment on our shared public spaces. Sadly by the time something like this is functional, I have a suspicion we will have moved past traditional billboards and posted media as the outdoor advertising venue of choice. After all it's about getting in your head, and visualizations are only one way into your psyche.

VIA The Anti Advertising Agency

The Artvertiser is an urban, hand-held, augmented-reality project exploring the live substitution of advertising content for art.

Software is trained to recognise individual advertisements, each of which become a virtual ‘canvas’ on which an artist can exhibit when viewed through the hand-held device.

The project was initiated by Julian Oliver in February 2008 and is being developed in collaboration with artists Clara Boj and Diego Diaz.

This is the first in a series of video reports documenting the progress of the project.

You can read more about the project at

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

InWindow Outdoor Gets in Your Face

Inwindow Outdoor advertising is responsible for the newest and most objectionable form of billboard our metropolitan environment now faces. They run illegal street level signs which occupy the windows and facades of storefronts recently vacated by yet another business failure. We reported on them a while back and now have been given renewed interest by a recent article in the New York Times.

Steve Lambert makes his opinions clear in a letter he just posted on the AAA site. In it he questions the New York Times' reporting strategies, saying "The Times is mistaken in reporting on this as a “thriving” type of advertising emerging from declining economy. Call it what it is, advertisers desperate for profits, committing organized crime, and hurting the livability of our city." I couldn't agree more.

Here is what Inwindow Outdoor has to say about it's activities:
"Own the Streets

Millions of people travel the city streets every day, walking to work, meeting friends or driving home.

At Inwindow Outdoor, we've pioneered an exciting new medium that impacts their everyday lives. Working directly with landlords, we utilize the best retail locations that are currently ‘For Lease’. The result is a highly targeted advertising vehicle which is both colorful and energetic."

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Corporate Sponsored Pothole Repair!

We all pretend like this is some magnificent act of altruism on the part of KFC, aiding our poor city governments in times of need. The fact of the matter is this is cheap advertising and logo placement. If KFC wanted to help the city they would just patch the potholes and move on. Ironically, an act of quiet benevolence would not go unnoticed and KFC would probably be greatly rewarded with good press and customer loyalty.

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by

Guest post from AAA Reader James Ewert:


A certain greasy chicken franchise is adding another item to its menu: pothole patching. In Louisville, KY and potentially in a town near you, what was once a city service paid for by tax payers might become another avenue for advertising. The fried chicken restaurant extended an offer to mayors across the country to have the restaurant fill the city’s potholes and in return be allowed to affix a chalk logo to the newly paved asphalt. I know it’s a recession and all, and municipalities are feeling the pinch when it comes to typical city services like snow plowing and pothole patching, but come on; do we really need a fried chicken restaurant filling potholes for us? - James Ewert

Thanks James! If you’re concerned about corporation sweeping into rescue us from tax cuts, see these previous posts:

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Can we make the airport any more degrading?

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by

We have to dump all of our water, in some cases women are being forced to remove their undergarments, and of course we all have to take off our shoes, now we are forced to look at ads in the process. Not that the security check point was a particularly sacred or peaceful place anyway, but man, seeing those really bright ads at that moment is not the kind of branding they want. I’m thinking: “damnit, I hate shoes right now.” And then I have to stare into a box that is telling me “you love shoes. you need shoes. buy more shoes.”

Labels: , ,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

NYC interactive

I guess the cat's out of the bag on this one so I might as well post it here too. This interactive piece was done by Joe Bernstien, and Ben Piven on the fine art of Subvertising. In it I install another weaving piece and Steve Lambert gives a brief explanation of his Ad Art Firefox hack. Thanks again to both of those guys for taking interest in our projects.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, February 6, 2009

The Most Important Thing You Will Read About PosterBoy Yet Is A Lot Less about PosterBoy Than You Think

I would like to thank Steve Lambert and the AAA for their last post on PosterBoy regarding his arrest. Sometimes I am so busy trying to keep the content updated on this site, I forget that some of the important issues this content brings forward are not as obvious to the rest of the world as they are to me.

That said there has been a flurry of activity around PosterBoy these days. Much of the activity has dealt with his recent arrest. Magazines and press that have run their opinions recently include, The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Press, The New Yorker, The Economist, Gothamist, Gawker, and soon El Pais in Spain. I'm sure this list does not include half the content PosterBoy has been able to create in the last six months through his simple yet incredibly affective idea.

So they have arrested PosterBoy, or so the story goes. And yet we have all missed the point PosterBoy is trying to make.

PosterBoy like many activist public space artists is trying to challenge the current state of our public environment. The very fact that his activities are criminal at all is a result of the power that outdoor advertising exercises over our public lives, and the lack of power that is given to individuals for whom this public space should function. (This public project is a good example of the good that comes about through public interaction with public space) What's almost too good to be true is that unlike other public artists, graffiti and street alike, his project directly questions this tenuous relationship. And still all we can pay attention to is whether or not he's really Henry Matyjewicz, and did he or did he not get arrested.

By all means I will be there Monday morning at Henry's court appearance, and I undoubtedly am frustrated by the fact that he had to spend time in jail at all. The mere fact that the Anti-Vandal squad, (a task force of 75) or whatever branch of the NYPD that was used to pull off an undercover sting operation to arrest someone who has single handedly created more dialogue about the use of our public space, is astounding. But lets forget for one minute the issue of his arrest and think about why he is in this position, and who might be a better candidate to take his place.

The city runs a special task force through the DOB called the Sign Enforcement Unit. Headed by Edward Fortier, 5 individuals attempt to handle the overwhelming proliferation of illegal advertisements in the city. In fact their only task is to handle billboards, and yet they are swamped by the herculean task set before them. Often it takes them months to even get to illegal billboard complaints like this one, and even once they have located an illegal billboard, many more months of legal negotiations in order to finally have it removed. The cost of this task force as well as the legal battles which must take place, is paid for by YOU AND ME! PosterBoys activities cost you and I nothing, and instead of advertising content, he brings you critical issues.

The best part about this, and what makes us arguing over who we think PosterBoy is even more ridiculous, is that we know the full names of every landlord which operates illegal signage in the city. That's right, all you have to do is type in the address of a building with signage on it, and you can see if there is a permit for the sign. If there is no permit, you have the full name of the person responsible. And yet here we are arresting one of the only people in our city trying to make us aware of this fact.

What makes this whole thing even more absurd is that PosterBoy, for all his concerted efforts to bring to light this important issue, has made not a single dollar and remains committed to not profiting directly from any of this activity. Juxtapose the millions of dollars being made by the operation of illegal signage in the city by individuals whose names we know and for whom we need no sting operations and undercover detectives, and you quickly see for whom the public space is operating.

It is our duty to PosterBoy, and all those individuals who have put their safety on the line to bring you face to face with this glaring issue, to channel our frustration and energy to outing the real issue at hand. Henry Matyjewicz is not only not PosterBoy, but the NYPD, by his arrest, has failed the public at large by ignoring the real culprits, and the motivation behind PosterBoy's activism.

When discussing PosterBoy, let us not forget to talk about the other vandals operating in our city. This all just makes me think of the woman in the KCET Billboard Confidential video Part 3 saying, "It doesn't really seem like anybody cares and I don't really believe the city is capable of doing anything about it." PosterBoy has made you think about it, now lets make our city capable of doing something about it.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Will You Marry Me by Steve Lambert

Steve Lambert just posted this on his site but did this piece in June 2007. He goes one step further and shows you how to make a quick tool to do the same thing he did on Not only is this a great simple project, but the Invisible Venue seems to be curating other billboard liberation's as well. Here is another example by Aaron Stienstra.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

A Simple Conundrum

I received an interesting email this morning asking me if I knew anything about blue tooth advertising laws in the city and whether or not it was banned. The email came from a man I will not name at a company called Street Blimps, so I was understandably a little wary. After deciding it was safe I made the call and realized very quickly I had nothing to worry about and wasn't talking to anyone suspect.

Apparently a Google search had returned my name and involvement with the illegal billboards site. funny. He seemed genuinely interested with our public space concerns and explained his disgust with the scaffolding advertising scandal that plagued New York a while back. He told me a client wanted to know about Blue Tooth advertising options and was curious about what I knew. I told him I knew very little except that the new Cemusa Bus Shelters were supposed to have Blue Tooth technology both for ad content as well as bus information.

He then began to tell me how only 25% of phones have Blue Tooth and that text for information was available on all phones, making it a much better advertising tool. He also made a comment we both picked up on regarding the privacy issues allowed through text for information advertising versus blue tooth advertising. I was happy to hear an advertiser talking about privacy issues and told him a little more about my work.

This got us in to a little social responsibility frenzy at which point he explained his prior job in environmental products ten years before entering the advertising industry. He talked about it with passion and interest. That is not to say that he wasn't talking about his current job with as much fervor. I only bring it up because he did. His unprompted explanation for being in the ad industry was responsibility, including children.

Street Blimps is an advertising company which specializes in the more avant-gard forms. Amongst its repertoire, sidewalk stickers, projection billboards, mobile billboards (billboards on trucks) street teams, ad balloons, Segways, vehicle wraps and "innovative ideas". If these were the products being pushed for the last ten years, who was the contradiction I was talking to, and why did it sound so familiar?

I think it is safe to say a large portion of people I know or have met in advertising had aspirations for other things. They may not have been on any grander scale or meant anything more to the world, I only say that they thought of other things and ended up with advertising. It seems many of us, myself included, have issues we fail to see or choose not to look at.

Lippman Says, "From father to son, from prelate to novice, from veteran to cadet, certain ways of seeing and doing are taught."

If you're feeling antsy and you're ready to make the jump out of advertising, the Anti Advertising Agency can help with their foundation for freedom project.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Demand a Read/Write City

I suggest everyone keep a close eye on The Anti Advertising Agency because it is riddled with fantastic content. Some of this content is too important to let go by without passing it along.

Via The Anti-Advertising Agency by Steve Lambert

This is graffiti:

  • it’s spray paint
  • it’s done without permission on someone else’s property
  • it’s illegal
  • politicians hate it

It’s the expression of a citizen (or small group of citizens) in public space speaking to fellow citizens. Anyone, willing to take the legal risk, can do it.

This is advertising:

  • it’s printed vinyl
  • it’s done with permission from the city
  • it’s legal (When it’s not legal there’s often little to no consequence.)
  • legal or not, it makes money - though often not enough
  • politicians love it

It’s the expression of a corporate interest. A small number of people who have thousands of dollars, a specific and narrow interest and some influence can do it. They speak to people as consumers, not citizens.

For the first time, the MTA is turning the outside of their trains over to advertising company, Titan Outdoor. It will start with the Times Square shuttle in a test program. But with the potential for more (my emphasis added):

If this test at Grand Central/Times Square stations is successful, other high-traffic stations could easily be included for similar sales packages.

In addition to the above efforts in the GCT/Times Square Area, in the first quarter of 2009 Times Square Shuttle tunnel will also become the home of the first in-tunnel advertising installation. The shuttle riders will be able to view a full motion video presentation through the window of the shuttle car. The MTA is also planning to pilot test a digital dominated station concept at two of the NYCT stations, Grand Central Shuttle Station and 42nd and 6th Avenue Station mezzanine (Bryant Park).

To further expand the advertising revenue base, MTA in partnership with Titan Outdoor (its MTA bus and commuter rail advertising contractor), will be pilot testing digital advertising on one of its NYCT buses and, if successful, hope to expand the program to approximately 200 buses. In addition, a similar digital advertising pilot test is planned for in car commuter rail displays in the near future.

One thing I’m sure of - this install will be amazing. This will likely be bold, and inventive and incorporate amazing new technologies. It will be novel and smart, maybe funny. People will be impressed, if not wowed. And why wouldn’t they be? There will be some of the most creative people in the world working on it with years of research and experience and millions of dollars behind it.

So what’s wrong with this?

First, as usual, it’s not a worthwhile deal for the city. With an annual budget of 11.5 billion, the MTA hopes to bring in another 20 million in ad revenue with the program during the next year - a whopping total of .17% of their budget.

The MTA and New York City are becoming outdoor advertising companies themselves, turning over the captive eyes of commuters for a handful of revenue. Many don’t realize this conflict of interest is making it difficult for the city to regulate advertising, even when it’s clearly illegal.

Another point is that it creates a “read-only” culture. If you’re not familiar with the concept, Lawrence Lessig talks aboutread only culture” versus “read/write culture.” He uses this analogy to talk about copyright, but I’m going to radically extend his argument to the city.

Our city is read-only. You’re free to read advertising, business signs, and city signs. But dare you write or hang anything of your own; you will be labeled as a criminal - a graffiti vandal. In many cities it’s even illegal to hang a sign for a garage sale on a light pole. If you happen to have a several thousand dollars, you might be able to say what you want - as long as it’s not too political.

But this is public space. You’re free to say whatever you want in public space, but freedom of speech does not extend to the visual environment. The visual environment is pay to play. Public visual space has become commercial space.

The visual environment is read only.

Why is read/write better? Because you can consume, process, and respond. This is how we think critically. This is how we learn. You can talk back. You can express yourself. You don’t just consume expression, you create expression.

Read/write is how democracy works.

There’s a reason kids want to write their names on walls. There’s a reason why people take graffiti seriously. Granted, graffiti writers don’t always know how to direct this energy, but I’d argue there’s some overlap with the reasons one writes their name on a wall and the reasons one runs for the school board. Being able to write means being able to affect your environment. To change it. You exist in the world not as a consumer, but an active citizen.

Read only culture creates apathy.

So how could the MTA do it right? Strip all the advertising from the transit system. Demand more tax revenue for public transit. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of brilliant ways that to raise money that will also make the city more livable, like increasing parking meter rates to raise $5 billion dollars. Use the surplus money to fund better, more dynamic, and temporary art in transit programs. Create an open application process and let some of New York’s great artists and designers wrap a car. They’ll liven up the system and speak to riders as fellow citizens.

Yes it sounds impossible, but as the Situationists said, “Be realistic, demand the impossible!

To give more credit, beyond Larry Lessig, I’m also synthesizing some ideas from artist Brett Cook-Dizney and others I can’t think of right away.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, October 3, 2008

Underfunding Causes Concessions to The Private Sector


Sorry Amber, for Calif. Republicans you’re just not as important as this precious, precious money.

The L.A. Times is reporting Clear Channel has its eye on 674 state owned digital billboards on California Highways. The billboards were installed to alert drivers to road hazards and for Amber Alerts providing “urgent bulletins in the most serious child-abduction cases.”

But now the state is listening to Clear Channel.

Apparently California needs money. In the Governor’s budget it says, “chronic underinvestment has increased congestion and has resulted in California having some of the most distressed highway and road conditions in the United States.”

Of course, this is the neo-liberal fantasy:

1. the government under-funds infrastructure
2. infrastructure falls apart
3. Conservatives claim that government can’t be trusted and we need private industry and competition!
4. Conservatives then make private, exclusive deals with corporations so they can sweep in to the rescue/for the profit.

I can’t imagine this proposal going very far, but the whining about being broke and the publicity that follows may be intended to prepare voters for a comparatively less disgusting option.

As argued in the L.A. Times story, yes it’s an eyesore, yes it might be dangerous to drivers, yes it will train people pay less attention to a sign designed to help abducted children and tell them about emergencies - thereby nearly nullifying it. But more important that that, it’s public space and public property that belongs to us, not corporations.

But perhaps you’re more fiscally minded. This is another bad deal made by politicians with advertising and marketing companies. (Politicians who are most likely being lobbied by and receiving campaign donations from Clear Channel.) Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) says the money will be used for highway repair and potentially may be “tens of millions of dollars.” The California Transportation Commission’s annual budget is $28,466,000,000.

Another drop in the bucket. Sorry Amber.

Thanks for the tip from reader Sam.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Add-Art is now Firefox 3 compatible!

We all know advertising will find its way into our lives some way or another, but that doesn't mean we can't try and hold back the tide as long as possible. The internet is a space I'd rather not give up just so I don't have to look at advertising, and now you don't have to.

Add-Art is now Firefox 3 compatible!from The Anti-Advertising Agency
Steve Lambert

Great news; Add-Art, the Firefox browser extension that replaces ads with art is now Firefox 3 compatible. The extension blocks advertising and replaces it with art images that change every two weeks. The art comes from contemporary artists and curators - read a review from Rhizome.

If you’ve been waiting for Add-Art to work in Firefox 3, now is the time to update.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Advertising wont solve economic problems for NYC

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by Steve Lambert

Another bad deal to trade public space for money from The New York Sun:Council Member David Yassky of Brooklyn is calling for the city to begin allowing advertising on municipal trash cans and suggested that such a move, which he estimated could bring $2.5 million in revenue, would help during difficult economic times.

“We need to be as creative as we can about finding sources of revenues to ease the burden on taxpayers,” Mr. Yassky said yesterday. “We sold advertising on newsstands and bus shelters and other so-called street furniture. There’s just no reason not to extend that to trash cans.”

Mr. Yassky’s push for trash can ads is the latest in a series of moves to expand public advertising, a lucrative source of income for the city. Council Member Melinda Katz introduced legislation last year that would allow advertising rights to be sold for construction sheds and scaffolding, many of which are currently covered with illegal posters. The bill, which has more than 30 co-sponsors, has not been brought to the floor for a vote.

Ad Sales Seen as Answer to City’s Economic Woes - September 15, 2008 - The New York Sun

2.5 million sure sounds like a lot of money to help with these difficult economic times, but let’s look at what the residents of this city get when Council Members like David Yassky and Melinda Yatz hand over public space and city property to corporations. NYC’s budget for 2009 is $59,100,000,000 and putting ads on trash cans would raise 2.5 million. Since those numbers are so large, I created a visualization:

It wasn’t easy to create a chart for this because the 2.5 million amount is so relatively small. It’s that dot down at the bottom if you can’t find it. It’s not a lot of money.

Additionally, the city can’t afford to shoot itself in the foot anymore after making billion dollar deals with CEMUSA to put ads all over town. They’ve since been tied up in courts with advertising bandits FUEL outdoor, who have placed illegal signs all over the city. When FUEL was called on it, they claimed the city was in the advertising business themselves (citing the CEMUSA deal) and therefor in a conflict of interest. As brilliant an argument as it is sleazy.

Regulating illegal activity to capitalize on it wont make the city more livable. Council members Yassky and Katz need to remember, people don’t want more ads. They want trees. Times Square is nice to visit, but no one wants to live there. If the city wants to make money, enforce laws against illegal advertising, increase the fines, and make a more livable city at the same time.

If the city wants to make some real money, they could make billions if they’d expand their current plan and increase parking meter rates. Selling public space to advertisers is not the answer.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Found this on the AAA site. I always love a cover up.

courtesy of Difusor.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, September 5, 2008

No freedom of speech on billboards - even when you can pay.

from The Anti-Advertising Agency by Steve Lambert

Billboard Co. Says No to Soldier Portraits in St. Paul

A billboard company has canceled its contract to display one of photographer Suzanne Opton’s portraits of active-duty soldiers on an outdoor space in St. Paul, Minnesota, site of the Republican National Convention. Opton, a New York-based photographer, shot her “Soldiers Faces” series at Fort Drum, in New York State, between 2004 and 2005, with the permission of the soldiers and their commanders. Having exhibited the portraits in galleries around the U.S., this year Opton launched the “Soldier Billboard Project,” a program to display the images on public billboards in five U.S. cities.

One of her images was to go on display on a billboard in St. Paul last, but CBS Outdoor, which controls the space, canceled the contract. In an email sent to Opton last week, CBS Outdoor Executive Vice President of Marketing Jodi Senese wrote, “The reason we have advised you that we cannot post these as billboards is that out-of-context (neither in a museum setting or website) the images, as stand-alone highway or city billboards, appear to be deceased soldiers. The presentation in this manner could be perceived as being disrespectful to the men and women in our armed forces.”

Each portrait in Opton’s series is a close up of a soldier as he rests his face on a table.

In August, Opton’s photo of a soldier who had served 120 days in Afghanistan was displayed on a billboard in Denver, site of the Democratic Party’s convention. The Denver billboard was arranged with support from the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art. According to a press statement from Opton, other soldier billboards are planned for Houston (with help from DiverseWorks ArtSpace), Atlanta (Atlanta Contemporary Art Center) and Miami. The “Soldier Billboard Project” is supported by funding from the New York Foundation for the Arts.

“We have every intention of moving forward with our plans,” said Susan Reynolds, curator of the Billboard Project.

The nine images that make up “Soldier Billboard Project” are on view at

thanks Alice Arnold

More on billboards denied for anti-war content:

Minnesota ant-war video billboard
“All your arguments about (free) speech are ridiculous”
2004 - Group sues over anti-war billboard and wins (er, settles)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ad Creep Hits the Bike Lanes

via AAA through tree hugger

We have complained before about ad creep, how the public realm is being taken over by private marketers. I don’t know if I should be happy or sad that the Egg Farmers of Canada have determined that there are enough cyclists in London, Ontario that they want to pay to advertise to them by painting ads onto bike lanes.

Matthew Blackett writes in Spacing: “What’s the next step? Using the dashes on the road to point you towards a Wal-Mart, or use the traffic screens on highways to promote a new car model?”

How did it come to this?

“The blame lies squarely on the managers of municipalities who forget that their primary job is to provide quality service to residents, not to sell our sight-lines and turn our infrastructure into advertising opportunities. A city doesn’t always have to say yes.”

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

GoAdBike Media Chart

Go Ad Bike is a Canadian media company that provides outdoor advertising space via their oddly crafted bike/billboard hybrids. Recently the AAA posted an interesting article about them which led me to look at their media kit. I'm not sure about the accuracy of Go Ad Bike's data for these charts but I thought they were interesting nonetheless. By removing advertising from the public we could eliminate nearly a third of the messages we are subjected to daily and all of those we don't have the option to avoid.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

NYT: Coming to Central Park - A 7,500-Square-Foot Mobile Chanel Ad With an Artistic Mission

I was originally made aware of this debacle on July 25th when an article in AM NY caught my attention. Now it seems the NY Times is putting in their two cents on the 7,500 square foot advertisement for Chanel to be located in Central Park. (article)

Steve Lambert of the Anti-Advertising Agency made some very interesting comments about the article that are worth repeating for lack of better thought on my part.

VIA-Anti-Advertising Agency

Basically Chanel is renting out Central Park for millions of dollars to install a temporary exhibition (the structure is in the photograph above) of artist responses to their handbags called “Mobile Art.” Including the word art in the title is evidence of a defensive posture – Central Park doesn’t have billboards in it for a reason.

The guise of art also enables the city to cite “precedents like Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s ‘Gates’… or the four waterfalls designed by the artist Olafur Eliasson” as if the Chanel promotion were in the same category. Sure cynics can say there’s not much difference between big business and blue chip artists, but to put individual artists in the same classification as a multi-billion dollar company employing nearly one thousand people and retail stores on six continents… is kind of overstating it.

Moving on.

Douglas Blonsky, president of the Central Park Conservancy… and Mr. Benepe (Parks Commissioner) described Chanel’s donation as a windfall for the park. The money will go toward enhancing its horticulture, particularly in the area from 85th Street to the Harlem Meer.

Asked whether he anticipated criticism for allowing Chanel to advertise one of its products in the park, Mr. Benepe countered, “Everything has a sponsor.”

As we’ve discussed before, parks and city infrastructure are what government is for. (The lack of funding and related neglect is what brought about the non-profit Central Park Conservancy to begin with.) This is one of the reasons taxes are good! And why you should fight back when two-thirds of the corporations doing business in the United States don’t pay them. Otherwise we end up relying on a thousand points of light and a corporation on a white horse. When governments cut taxes and/or spend them on unnecessary wars we make shitty deals with corporations giving up the sacredness of our public parks in a desperate attempt to keep them around. That and bridges fail.

And what do we get when we resign ourselves to the statement, “everything has a sponsor”? Anne has written a whole book about it. Inauthentic culture.

“Artists in 17th-century Italy wouldn’t have been in business were it not for their patrons,” he added,

Really? Is that our standard? Our level of success is an over three hundred year old monarchy?

We can do better.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Buenos Aires to Remove 40 Thousand Billboards to Fight Visual Pollution

Via The Anti Advertising Agency

The Buenos Aires government and a group of advertising associations have agreed to remove 40 thousand billboards that are infracting the city’s code, Clarin newspaper informed. This represents about 60% of the total amount of billboards.

This agreement is part of a government plan to put in order outdoor advertising in Buenos Aires, which includes modifications to the advertising code to establish areas in the city and authorize different types of signs according to the neighborhoods’ characteristics. The government’s goals are to reduce visual pollution, improve the neighbors life quality and prevent accidents.

Even though visual might not be the worst pollution the city has to deal with, the amount of signs that have emerged during the last years and the dangers some of them represent make this plan a step in the right direction. More details and images of how the city would look like, in the extended.

Via Clarin newspaper.

The initiative to put in order the city’s outdoor advertising began last May, when the government sent a law project to the Congress and approved a resolution to stop new authorizations for billboards and signs.

According to Pagina 12 newspaper, the new law’s main points are:
-It establishes three areas in the city: residential, commercial zone and the Republic Square. In the first area, some signs will be allowed, but only small ones to indicate a shop’s activity; in the second area there will be drastic cuts to advertising; and the third will be the only one to allow big signs and electronic billboards, but there will be new regulations.
-The law also establishes new parameters for signs, such as lightning and allowed colors.
-It also forbids the total covering of facades, some kinds of billboards, and the installation of signs on apartments and houses.

The city’s Public Space Minister, Juan Pablo Piccardo, told Clarin newspaper that today Buenos Aires has signs with all types of infractions, from billboards in forbidden areas to others installed in terraces that are over the allowed height.

Anti visual pollution plan in buenos aires. Image.

Image showing how the center of Buenos Aires would look with the new regulations. Source: Pagina 12 newspaper.

Outdoor advertising businessmen reaction

Businessmen from the advertising sector of course reacted, with a campaign claiming that less signs mean less voices that speak to the population with messages that can be useful for society.

However, they agree to the fact that the segment needs organization since a growing number of billboards means they are less valuable and therefore cheaper to rent.

The group got to an agreement with the government last August 7, when the mayor’s office proposed to take down the measure that established it would not give permissions for new billboards in exchange for the companies to take down the illegal signs.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 20, 2008

AAAFFF mission statement

The Anti Advertising Agency Foundation for freedom runs a granting program designed to lure ad professionals out of the advertising industry and into public service by providing them with grant money to get started. Their mission statement is a well worded demonization of our ill fated consumerist tendencies.

The mission of the Anti-Advertising Agency Foundation for Freedom is to bring the best and brightest former ad pros together once a year; inspire young people to leave the craft; focus the industry and public at large on the profoundly negative social and economic impacts of advertising; inspire problem-solving methods focused on the most important issues facing the real world; and shine a light on the influence that advertising, media, and marketing industries have on dwindling public space, atrophying human relationships, and the destruction of democracy.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

With Billboards, Cities are facing the digital decision-AAA

This article was taken from the Anti-Advertising Agencies website and highlights the new debate over digital billboard signs around the country.

Ah, for the good old days, when billboards were merely a blight you could avoid, sort of, by averting your eyes.

Now the outdoor advertising companies have us right where they want us: stuck in traffic or at a red light, facing a digital sign that changes about every seven seconds. At least at home, zombied out in front of our televisions, we get a little programming with our digital ads. With digital billboards, we just get ads.

“There’s no mute button, no on-off switch, no changing the station.”

“We’re there 24-7,” Clear Channel Outdoor chief executive Paul Meyer told the Washington Post last year. “There’s no mute button, no on-off switch, no changing the station.”

He says that like it’s a good thing.

And for the billboard industry, it’s a very good thing, as the fast-changing ads are bringing booming profits.But for the rest of us — those who do not own billboard companies or have stock in them or accept money from them to fund our political campaigns — digital billboards represent a significant ratcheting up of the industry’s assault on the American landscape.

Lamar Advertising, which wants to erect a 60-by-20-foot digital sign Downtown, filed for permits to convert 42 billboards around the city — including 10 Downtown — into digital ones, hoping to beat a moratorium imposed by City Council as it considers legislation that would give council a vote on all sign replacements.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl complained that the legislation “created a chaotic position now for us to be in, in that we have to consider 42 LED billboards.” Another way to look at it is that now we all know the scope of Lamar’s digital dream.

From Connecticut to California, digital billboards are becoming an increasingly hot issue as outdoor advertising companies seek to convert existing billboards to digital and erect new ones. State and local governments are struggling with how to regulate this bold new breed.

In September, the Federal Highway Administration gave digital billboards its blessing when it issued a memo stating that they conform to the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, even though the act prohibits flashing, intermittent or moving lights on billboards — and even though the FHA’s study of the safety of digital billboards won’t be completed until next year. States have the last word on whether they want them, though, and so far they’re legal in 38 states.

A bill in the Missouri Senate would allow existing billboards to be converted to digital ones, currently prohibited by the state transportation department. The legislation has rekindled a long-running local battle between outdoor advertisers and scenic advocates, writes the Springfield Business Journal.

Beginning June 1, Texas will allow digital billboards along state highways, even within cities, if municipalities want them. Houston, Dallas and Austin have bans on new billboards, but San Antonio’s city council voted in December to allow 15 digital signs as permanent “experiments,” to the dismay of the San Antonio Conservation Society, Scenic San Antonio, the American Institute of Architects and neighborhood groups. What would Lady Bird think?

With billboard regulations written before the advent of digital signs, cities are looking around to see how other places are regulating them. In Reno, Nev., where digital billboards are not allowed, the planning commission is studying other cities’ ordinances after a proposed change to permit them.

Beaufort County, S.C., banned construction of new billboards 24 years ago, but now Atlanta-based Adams Outdoor Advertising is lobbying it to permit conversion of existing billboards to digital ones.

We want the existing signs gone, not replaced with signs even more garish and distracting.

“Tell them no,” wrote the Island Packet newspaper in an editorial. “We want the existing signs gone, not replaced with signs even more garish and distracting. Let’s preserve some semblance of the Lowcountry aesthetic we cherish.”

In Long Beach, Calif., three neighborhood groups are fighting the construction of six digital billboards along local freeways; each sign would be 40 feet high, with a 30-by-20-foot screen.

The Long Beach City Council’s budget oversight committee endorsed the billboards in January, but council will hold hearings on the proposal in a few weeks. The budget committee has good reason to favor the billboards: Their owner would split the revenue with the city, bringing in an estimated $1.5 million to $2 million annually, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

Profit-sharing is just one tactic outdoor advertisers are using to get municipalities to warm to digital signs. They’re also using existing billboards as leverage to reduce their number in exchange for permission to erect digital ones, as Lamar hopes to do here by removing 11 billboards in exchange for the Downtown digital billboard. In San Antonio, twice as much square footage must come down for each digital billboard that goes up.

Other selling points across the country are that the digital billboards can be helpful during Amber Alerts, as “wanted” posters identifying criminal suspects and communicating emergency information during disasters.

Helpful as those may be, such infrequent uses won’t compensate for the powerful negative impact an onslaught of digital billboards will have on the natural landscape and the built environment.

The digital decision is one they don’t have to make in Alaska, Hawaii, Maine and Vermont, where all billboards are banned. Pittsburgh’s vistas are every bit as worthy of preservation as theirs.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Stained Glass-PosterChild

This is some truly far out shit by PosterChild who is a toronto based public artist collaborating with Jason Eppink and Steve Lambert of the Anti Advertising Agency. Not only does the work look stunning but the messages are clear, re-appropriation of public advertising structures only leads to good things.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


    Eduardo Moises Penalver & Sonia Kaytal
    Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership

    Barbara Ehrenreich
    Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy

    Lewis Hyde
    The Gift, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

    Geoffrey Miller
    Spent: Sex, Evolution, & Consumer Behavior

    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