Sunday, February 28, 2010

More Streetscapes on Historic Manhattan Buildings

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

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

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

New Tactics, Same Result. Streetscapes Overwhelm

This is what West Broadway and Grand Street looked like the last time the Google car photographed this neighborhood. Since then it has undergone construction and has recently become a prime retail location. Apparently it hasn't been rented yet and instead is being used for this giant Streetscape advertisement. The interesting thing about this location is that the vinyl sticker ads are inside the windows. It has been added to our Streetscape map.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Get Your Dollar From InWindow!

It may seem like we spend hours browsing outdoor advertising sites, but we don't, they send us emails with this kind of information all the time. InWindow, the company who envisions their business for potential customers with this doosey...
"Picture a giant billboard several stories overhead. Now imagine bringing it down to street level where it is literally face to face with huge crowds of potential customers."
has a new website. They are so excited about it and their new I-phone app, that they are offering you a dollar just for downloading the app. Of course this is for a limited time, which they don't specify, but I suggest you get your dollar.
For a limited time only, we'll pay you $1 when you download the app from the App Store or iTunes. Just send the email confirmation from Apple to and we'll send you $1 via PayPal. Easy as that!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Gender Bending Hotties Invade Chelsea at 300 West 22nd Street

Just when I thought Streetscapes had been abandoned by outdoor advertisers in NYC, or at least in Chelsea, a new one shows up right in the hood. Now I like Rupaul just the same as the next guy but I don't want to indulge her, and her gender bending buddies, first thing in the morning at 15 feet tall. Having grown up in Chelsea I can enjoy a beautiful man like the next, but let's keep it legal people.

One would assume this immense illegal Streetscape advertisement had its initial complaint # 1274075 called in by the same person who posted the above sign. It reads...
This is illegal corporate graffiti

This is an Environmental Control Board (ECB) Violation.

The Department of Buildings has been contacted, please remove this abomination IMMEDIATELY, this is not Times Square.

Building owners who lease ads on their premises are considered outdoor advertising companies. As such, they can be fined a maximum of 25,000 dollars

Call 311 to add your complaint

status number is 1274075
I obviously called this "abomination" in as well given that the recent equinox billboard removal in Greenwich Village came after huge public outcry made it a newsworthy issue. When I went to check complaint # 1274098 that I made at 9:00am this morning there was already a 3rd complaint filed by another party.

I find it interesting that this concerned New Yorker complains "this is not Times Square". Many New Yorkers you talk to have no problem with the theme park being run in midtown. In fact many New Yorkers rarely pass through that part of town unless out of necessity. As is evidenced in this public response, this does not mean New Yorkers want to live in Times Square. Although New York, and particularly Manhattan, feels less like somewhere we live and more like somewhere the world visits, this is simply not the case. Our neighborhoods and communities are just that. Using them as sites of commercial interruption, especially when done illegally, harms the people that live in this city and the sense of control over their environment that is needed to feel invested in ones community. Streetscapes like this and the others we have kept track of are particularly insulting because of their scale and placement which is meant to overwhelm the viewer.

I also find it interesting that this resident makes the comparison between advertising and traditional graffiti. When outdoor advertising is illegal, you can often find this comment being made. I am inclined to disagree slightly because it would seem graffiti artists often become incredibly productive parts of our society working in design, the arts, and ironically advertising, as well as many other fields. People who hang advertising and particularly illegal postings like this, continue a long and drawn out career of violating our streets in new and more insidious ways. This says nothing about the fact that graffiti or marking ones environment as a way to find ones identity in a city of 8 million people, might actually be a important avenue of expression for our youth.

I have added this location to our Streetscape map where you can find more illegal ads posted by companies like InWindow and Blue Outdoor. We will report back when this Streetscape is removed.

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

InWindow Mallways, A Better Business Model

A while back InWindow was destroying the streets of New York with Streetscape advertisements. After critiquing their operation for illegally installing these giant street level billboards, their CEO contacted PublicAdCampaign looking to explain why they weren't so bad. We invited Steve Lambert of the Anti-Advertising Agency to come with us and hear them out at the old NYC staple, Fanelli's Cafe. Long story short Steve Birnhak (CEO) and Ray Lee (real estate operations manager) told us they were doing the city a service by covering empty storefronts with their illegal advertisements. The giant ads were supposedly staving off blight and the inevitable neighborhood degeneration associated with it as businesses went belly up in the economic crisis. Obviously this was a matter of opinion and one both Steve Lambert and I disagreed with. It was our opinion that the ads were in fact altering our shared environment for the worse by taking advantage of bad times and the public in general. We were asked to stop finding fault with their business, we responded by asking them to stop illegally using our streets and pursue their other legal outdoor advertising concepts. It seems in New York at least the large Streetscapes have all but disappeared. It also seems InWindow has heeded our advice and put its efforts into Mallways, a legal derivative of their illegal Streetscape operation, and one you can ignore by not entering the church of consumption we call The Mall. If you do see Streetscapes in your neighborhood, please send us a picture with the exact address.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Email Correspondence Between Mediacy & PublicAdCampaign

The following post is in regards to an interesting email interaction between the owner of Mediacy Inc. and PublicAdCampaign. I think it helps, at least on some level, to better explain how both sides of this argument feel about their use/abuse of public space, and how remarkably similar those feelings are. It also is interesting to see people consistently call advertising art in these contexts. It is amazing that some people can't see the difference between the two, their different motivations and because of this their different effects on society. Intention is a huge part of the equation that is consistently left out of the discussion.

After receiving an unsolicited press release for the company Mediacy Inc. regarding their newest form of OOH advertising, the Gatescape, we couldn't help but immediately publish our reaction. Within minutes we received a complaint from the owner of the company, Michael Gitter. This is not the first time we have been contacted by the heads of major outdoor advertising firms for taking them to task. About 6 months ago we sat down with Steve Birnhak of InWindow, at his request, to discuss his illegal Streetscape business and why PublicAdCampaign was keeping tabs on the companies activities. I am happy to report the last InWindow advertisement that I know of was removed only a few days ago from it's 13th street and University location.

photo of old InWindow Streetscape at 13th and University around 07-09.

At this point a bit of back story is required to give Mr. Gitter credit where credit is due. It turns out Mr. Gitter was one of two owners of the MaxRack company. The racks provided free postcards in bars and restaurants to anyone who wanted them, and appeared in New York City a few years back. About 3 weeks ago Mr. Gitter contacted me saying that the business was ceasing to operate and would I have any interest in using the racks for the PublicAdCampaign project. I pondered this offer and in the end declined, unable to find an appropriate use for the now unused equipment. When we posted our initial reaction to the Gatescape concept, I did not put two and two together to realize that Mr. Gitter was also the owner of this new company Mediacy. Considering the nature of the business the press release was proposing, I can't say this would have changed my reaction.

What follows is a series of communications between Mr. Gitter and I which he has given me permission to reproduce for you. I think they are interesting to read because they show the inherent lack of understanding by most people of how advertising negatively affects the community and our shared psyche. Mr. Gitter, obviously cares for the city, being a born and raised in New York. He also has a deep felt appreciation for the arts as is evidenced by Maxrack's support of local artists as well as his interest in using Gatescape locations that are idle to exhibit artwork. The problem is, support for the arts in this situation comes at a high cost and that is the overburdening of our collective subconscious with commercial messages which not only alter our individual desires and therefore our society at large, but also define the city as an inherently commercial space. This also does not address the issue that art in this situation might be used to legitimate what could be an illegal advertising business that will have to take advantage before it can "give back."

Michael to PublicAdCampaign:

I spoke with you only a few weeks ago about offering you my old Maxracks postcard racks for your arts projects. I was fine that you decided not to do this but now you have decided to criticize my Gatescape? C'mon.

What I was planning to do is offer your artists some of the real estate when vacant, and print their art on the banners at my cost, to really make a great impression.

I am in business and you might not like my product. But I am an artist (, a New York native and I am sensitive to over-saturation of advertising.

You could have at least called me, or sent me an email. But to publicly try to threaten or humiliate me and my efforts on your blog?

I don't scare and I don't appreciate this and I wish you would have taken a different tact where we both could have been happy.

But I guess this is not the way you work.

PublicAdCampaign to Michael with responses in red:
michael, i did not realize you were the same person who offered me the max racks. that was generous of you and i appreciate it.

I must say im a little appalled that you think my reaction would be any different than what it was, and if so then i take it those racks were a bribe for my sympathies.

Jason, I'm not looking to bribe or for sympathies. This is an idea that isn't even in our Media Kit and was conceived only weeks ago. I offered those racks, not out of fear of what you will say about the gates - I hadn't even thought of doing them at that time. I offered them because I liked what you did and the racks were becoming unappealing to me.

clearly this gatescape idea is nearly identical to the InWindow concept and given the way i have attacked their illegal practices I would clearly take issue with your "new" idea. not to mention this "new" adform you are trying to push can be extended much further than InWindow considering they rely on abandoned buildings where you rely on any space with a rolldown.

That's true it could be bigger. But given the ugly way these gates look as opposed to a nice clean 57th St storefront with huge clear windows and white walls, we see the concepts as very different from the efforts of In Window. (as I understand it, the idea is that Gatescapes will clean the city by replacing graffiti scrawl with huge colorful advertising images. If graffiti, and unclean gates is the problem, I suggest we address why young boys want to write their names on the streets and that Mr. Gitter start a gate cleaning business because clean gates have nothing to do with advertising)

all of this comes on top of how I have been championing the no longer empty project and these spaces being used for art. as well i think my position on outdoor advertising continuing to find ways to abuse the public by pushing commercial concerns on them is clear.

Jason, you are not the first and nor am I to come up with these ideas. For yrs I worked with Tibor Kalman's group at M&Co. And I'm sure you know about the work they did concerning making Times Square more appealing by doing many things with empty storefronts and gates when Times Square was the city's blight.

Im glad you thought you could offer a few free vinyl prints to artists and this would make what is potentially an illegal advertising business viable.

Please don't humor me with your snarky sarcasm. I am not interested in your views on how little or how much I do to sponsor the arts.

I think the no longer empty project clearly shows artists are willing to pay for their own materials.

Ok, so? Are there no talented artists or fantastic non-profit organizations who would appreciate and be helped immensely by space and supplies?

in fact im sure they appreciate the opportunity to install their work themselves, spending time on the street interacting with pedestrians and others interested in their creative process. Im also surprised you didnt mention this act of altruism in your press release. seems like it would be a big selling point if you were serious about it.

Jason, I have anonymously supported artists with Maxracks cards for decades without saying a word to anyone. Its none of anyones business what I choose to do with extra resources, and it is ironic that you are suggesting I exploit artists and nonprofits wrapped around the idea of altruism. Altruism is handled individually and if you want dozens of these people and organizations I have helped over the last 15 years just let me know.

As far as being an artist, a new yorker... what can I say?

You can say it counts for something. Or it doesn't. You can maybe say I am just like you in that I lived here my whole life and I don't want this great city to look like shit.

As for being sensitive to the over-saturation of that a joke? why if you are sensitive to saturation would you start a company which will be over saturating our environment?

Joke? Some might look at your gigantic black and white squiggle on the wall in Soho as nothing more than ugly visual noise. (I don't know exactly what he is referring to here but I'm assuming he is talking about the image on the corner of Howard and Broadway) But see that's not for me to judge. I went to the Guggenheim and saw modern art of the Marlboro Man photos. Is that art? Who cares. Someone does. (Here again the difference between art and advertising escapes us. Richard Prince rephotographing the Marlborough man was not to sell you cigarettes but to elucidate ideas about authorship and reproduction in art.)

As for threatening, or humiliating you on my site, I am sorry you feel that way. I really never called you out but rather the company.

I am the company, Jason.

I think advertising like this is a blight and a humiliation to the residents of this city.

Some people might say Christmas displays in October is horrible. Or the smell of bad perfume being pumped out of Hollister's store front door is a blight too. We all pick our battles.

it takes them for nothing but consumers and this is a travesty. It is also taking away from the possible space for murals done by no longer empty and putting store owners in the precarious position of having to decide on profit over public health.

You had years to do something with these gates. But now I'm doing something so you kvetch? Is it because you didn't think of it for your artists first?

My last question regarding what I assume you are calling the threats in regards to calling 311. and believe me i mean this sincerely as you have been nice to me in the past in our email communications

do you plan to get these permitted through the DOB? because if not you should know that they will be illegal and you should consider the possibility of fines not making this a viable business option.

i apologize for our differences and I hope you can understand my point of view.

Point noted.

Two last items. We have a website: And if any of your artists wants some free Gatescapes exposure have them call me.

At this point Michael and I decided it better to sit down and discuss all of this in person. Because of this I did not respond to his email after this point although we continued the conversation where our lunch left off. I will relay these small communications below, Michael in Red and PublicAdCampaign in Black.

Michael: "Hey, walking home, and have already seen about 1000 ads on everything from buses and taxis to umbrellas and signs outside stores. Any interest in coming to the other side? Because Mediacy could use a salesperson like you. :)"

PublicAdCampaign: "I think we established the going rate for selling your soul at a million two right? make me an offer."

Michael: "Just like Cemusa, I'll pay it over 20 years!" (this is a refence to the crap deal the city took when it gave Cemusa control over the bus stop shelters and magazine stands in New York. The resulting deal would have Cemusa pay the city for control of these locations over a 20 year span.)

There was some very interesting discussion that happened over lunch which has resulted in Mr. Gitter contacting his friends at GenArt, FlavorPill and the likes, offering them the Gatescape format for artists when those locations are not rented for advertising. I will be sitting down with them all after thanksgiving to discuss how this situation might result in a more appropriate use of our public spaces. More to follow soon.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

GatesScapes Another Rip Off of An Artistic Program

Just when you think you have nothing to post on Friday, good public relations firms send you press releases like the one you will find below. If you regularly read this site then you probably already know about the incredibly affective non-profit group No Longer Empty. They have recently championed an empty storefront mural project with two incredible works by D-Face and Know Hope. Most recently we suggested they work with GAIA, whose mural was produced last Saturday and we anxiously await its release. We have been excited about this format as a viable way for some of today's leading street artists to find legal ways to bring their work to our city. Before we have had time to even remotely enjoy the possibility of a city filled with outdoor murals, the Mediacy ad agency (which doesn't even have a website yet) has stepped in to cash in on the abuse of our public environment. One thing I can tell you is they will need permits to put these ads up and you can be damn sure we will be calling them in to 311 as we see them.

On another note, there seems to be one InWindow advertisement up in the city that I know of and it has been a month at least since I saw the last one go up. I can't be sure but I hope the AAA and PAC had something to do with this, however small.

Love the use of the Kandinsky for this press release. Are they really to have me believe they will be putting up art and not two half naked people screwing each other?

Mediacy, Inc. Releases the Latest in Place Based Marketing:

NEW YORK – November 12, 2009 – Mediacy, Inc., an innovator in the out-of-home media segment, introduces its newest division: Mediacy Outdoor, and their latest marketing platform: Gatescapes.

Gatescapes, made of specialty vinyl that is specifically cut for corrugated gates (roll down storefront security gates), make use of what cities have an abundance of: protected entryways. Mediacy Outdoor offers companies the chance to brand these gates with their logo. The ads will be featured on the gates of venues which are closed permanently or for at least 15 hours per day. Locations chosen have an average of 25,000 impressions per day based on Department of Transportation numbers, are illuminated by exterior lights during nighttime hours, and are large enough to be seen by foot traffic and vehicular traffic alike.

These spaces are available immediately with the option of either a two week or four-week campaign. 500 gates will be available in each market priced from $1,500 - $30,000 depending on the size and the duration of the campaign. Locations are currently available in both New York and Los Angeles, and are poised to expand to the top 10 DMAs in 2010.

Mediacy, Inc. founder and CEO Michael Gitter states that besides the urban beautification that comes with the cleaning, removal and prevention of graffiti on these gates, Mediacy continues to be: “a company in tune with the needs of advertisers in this difficult market.” Additionally, Gitter says that their Gatescapes “meet all the criteria for a Mediacy product: an expansive canvas for the message; innovative concept; effective media; uncluttered ad environment; colorful and visible."

Gatescapes extend far beyond the reach of existing media vehicles, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional advertising methods. Mediacy, Inc. continues to provide for the delivery of a customized message toward targeted consumer audiences on a platform which is guaranteed to astound, pushing the envelope for what place based marketing can accomplish.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

They Must Think I'm Crazy, And Maybe I Am

Read this cause it's kind of awesome.

Funny thing happened to me on the way to the theater... No just kidding, after I left a video meeting tonight I happened to pass by the infamous InWindow illegal location of choice at 113 University Place. There were three young men installing yet another illegal advertisement at this location. I asked them who they were working for. They responded very cryptically, avoiding the question. I asked them if they worked for InWindow. They told me they worked for one of the OAC's and asked what my interest was. I told them I represented a few small companies in New York who might be interested in using their new attention grabbing form of outdoor advertising. They still refused to give me their companies name, at which point I nearly left.

After thinking better, I turned and asked if they knew what they were doing was illegal? They all paused, stopped what they were doing and looked at me with greater attention. Suddenly out of no where I heard, "Are you Jordan?" "No" I said, realizing that response made it obvious I was Jordan. My next question was, "Do you know my work?" "Yes, what you do is illegal too." I agreed and did not press the issue as I didn't have time for a conversation about the differences between removing and adding value from our shared public spaces.

I told them I would be reporting this new illegal advertising location when I got home and that they should probably stop what they were doing. The last citation against InWindow at this very same location was given 3 months ago, and is still active under complaint #1260474. Our newest complaint, nearly 3 months later, is filed under complaint #1267606. If you find this company's flagrant disrespect for our city's laws egregious and without warrant, contact 311 and file your own complaint. There is only so long they can get away with this before the many thousands of dollars in fines cripple their activity. Remember your complaints will fund our public schools.

To InWindow: I'm glad to know you know me. I am the voice of your conscience. Respect the gift economy and stop trying to take value out of our communities by removing surplus in the form of advertising revenue. Look to No Longer Empty for a viable model of behavior which promotes the exchange of ideas and not the congregation of monetary value, you assholes. I apologize for my tone, but these guys once tried to meet with me to convince me what they were doing was a benefit to our public environment and shared public spaces by promoting community and reducing blight. A glossary read of Lewis Hyde's The Gift should teach you that breaking the rules of exchange inhibits community and our social ties to one another. We know better than to listen to your double talk. We will find a way to make those $10,000.00 fines stick, you can bank on that.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Newest Streetscape For The Movie 2012 Adorns Catholic Boys' Highschool

A PublicAdCampaign reader and wonderful artist sent me these images today. This huge streetscape at 44 east 2nd street sits directly on the corner of 2nd Avenue. It looks like someone beat me to the punch on reporting this one and called in complaint # 1264413. The advertisement is directly adhered to the side of La Salle Academy, which is a Catholic Boys' high school. The street view from Google Maps shows the location beforehand and how large the area of coverage actually is.

It seems reporting these types of streetscapes is actually working as the last two I called in were removed less than a week after posting about them. This means either call them in yourself by phoning 311, or send PAC the images and we will report them for you as well as add them to our growing map of these illegal street level billboards. Happy hunting.

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Newest Streetscape Ad Is An Insult To The Deceased

For a long time the corner of 22nd and 8th avenue in Manhattan has been abandoned and in a state of neglect. A recent article in Chelsea Now explained the neighborhood's feelings towards the landlord and his lack of respect for the surrounding community. It seems one of the wonderful streetscape companies has brought a new level of shame and disrespect to this location with their most recent illegal streetscape for the movie 2012.

The above image is for a cancer research foundation. This "advertisement" covered the entire storefront until recently. The front door explains that the public service ad is dedicated to a deceased woman who succumbed to cancer in 2001. It is a heartfelt tribute and a sobering reminder of the people we loose to this deadly health issue.

Not too long ago a new vinyl billboard was adhered to the facade of this location. Mocking the color and content of the public service ad, this new version advertises for The Institute of Human Continuity. Along the bottom in red is fake spray paint which announces "The Mayans warned us!" and alters the Institute for Human Continuity's website to direct you to the movie promotion website.

There are so many things wrong with this I don't know where to begin. First it is an illegal advertisement. Second it makes light of the very serious health issue as well as dishonors the deceased for whom the original billboard was in memory of. On top of all this, the level of integration into the surrounding environment that this advertisement assumes is so sophisticated that it is hard to believe it doesn't represent a very serious shift in outdoor advertising tactics and technique. Surely the person responsible for this ad concept actually visited this location. If this is true that would mean these things aren't being dreamed up in some office on 5th avenue, but that they are being created by armies of people trolling the street for moments in which advertising can hide and integrate. Not only is this scary, but this must cost a fortune and exemplifies yet another level of creative energy that advertising is robbing our culture of. I have placed this ad on the streetscape map and am calling the DOB about it immediately.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

No Longer Empty-Via Urban Prankster

VIA Urban Prankster

Thanks to the real estate bubble bursting and the ensuing recession, there are tons of vacant retail spaces all around Manhattan. What to do with all this prime space? One solution is to cover it with illegal advertising.

No Longer Empty has a much more elegant solution. The group is working with landlords to turn vacant storefronts into temporary art galleries that are free and open to the public. They currently have a gallery in the ground level of the new Caledonia luxury hotel on 16th Street and 10th Avenue by the High Line. I checked it out last week and it was awesome. What a novel idea! Using empty space for the public good!

My thoughts:

I love Urban Prankster for the sheer magnitude of amazing, often outlandish, public projects Charlie presents almost daily. Yesterday's post isn't all that typical for the site because it's not really about a prank. In fact if there were a prank here, it is what usually happens to empty storefronts in NYC, they get converted to giant illegal street level billboards.

That said, No Longer Empty's usage of vacant storefronts provides a wonderful counterpoint to InWindow's claim that using empty storefronts to promote private commercial messages is the best way to take care of the urban blight that has been caused by the recession. InWindow went so far as to say neighborhoods with too many empty storefronts would surely succumb to the broken window theory, if the storefronts weren't immediately covered with ads. If this is all about saving neighborhoods from the ravages of the recession and the loss of community that comes with urban blight, I think No Longer Empty's solution beats out InWindow's any day.

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Vampire Diaries Streetscape Video

A few days ago I posted an update on the illegal, Vampire Diaries Streetscape, located at 14th street and 9th avenue. In that post I explained how the video player registers when viewers stand in front of the ad for more than a few seconds. Not only is this an opportunity to collect simple marketing data such as how often the ad is looked at, and how long the viewer engages the ad, but also more specific information about each individual viewer using facial recognition technology that can provide viewer demographics, viewer counts, and even "opportunity to see" counts.
Don't ask me why those girls stopped to join me in my observation, I think they were drunk.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Catching You Off Gaurd

A few days ago I found a large Streetscape for the Vampire Diaries on 9th avenue between 14th and 15th streets. I walked by the day after and found this devious video installation. The screen mimics a mirror by playing back a video feed from directly over the screen, while the text below asks "Vampires can't see their reflection...can you?" Intended to make you look at the screen and engage you in the vampire myth that is the show's premise, this installation does something else. If you stand in front of the advertisement for more than a few seconds, the screen flashes and a crow flies through the image. After this short clips of the show begin to play giving you a preview of what is in store for you should you choose to tune in.

Similarly to the ESPN advertisement just installed on 43rd street, this ad interacts with you, or you it. As cute as this may be, there is another aspect to this interaction we should all be aware of as public citizens. Every time someone stands in front of this ad long enough to trigger the video playback, valuable information is being gathered for the company advertising as well as InWindow on how affective the message and medium is. Combine this information with facial recognition technology provided by companies like Quividi and you are not only advertising, but obtaining highly specific market research at the same time. I make sure to stop in front of this ad as often as possible.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New ESPN Streetscape An Interactive Video Game

A good friend and PublicAdCampaign reader from Abztract sent me these images of a new InWindow advertisement on 43rd street and 5th Avenue. This location has been added to the growing map of Streetscape locations around the city.
I was walking down 5th ave at 43rd this AM and ran into where the Circuit City (now empty) store is. ESPN has a giant wrapped ad around the store. Except now, they installed an interactive TV/camera sensor. Basically, in the TV is a Quarterback. He tosses the football and the passerby has to attempt to catch it. As you catch it, it ads points on the TV screen. Not only is this annoying (because a group of 30 tourists stand in the middle of a very busy 5th ave to watch this tool attempt to catch imaginary footballs) I think this is also ugly. Who ever thought that a video game needs to be played in the middle of the street where people are hurrying to their office.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Favorite Streetscape Of All Time

This streetscape for the Vampire Diaries is the most recent illegal InWindow ad I've run accross. The best part about this garish beast is that it flanks those yellow dining tables seen in the rear of the picture. At those tables you can get a healthy dose of seafood and steak from the Old Homestead, all while taking in the pleasures first rate ad copy. You pay 60 bucks for a steak and you gotta stare at advertising while you eat? get outta town. This location has been added to the InWindow map.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

DOB Explains 936 bway-

A few days ago I posted about the recent copy change at 936 Broadway. Initially I took notice of this location when it sported a bright blue Intel advertisement along with some digital screens and a fantastic STOP WORK ORDER.

Obviously that SWO was meant to stop new signs from going up but the recent Home Depot copy change indicates otherwise. When I looked at the DOB website to see if that SWO was still there, I realized that it had been removed. Unsure of what this might mean in regards to the legality of the InWindow's business and the practice of erecting streescapes, I looked in a bit further with the DOB. I found out there have been a total of 26 violations served from as early as March at 936 Broadway and that the removal of the SWO doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. I'm assured a call to 311 will result in another violation and a reinstatement of the SWO, but when will it come down?

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

InWindow Loves 936 Broadway

InWindow is still operating at 936 Broadway. Back in May we reported on an illegal Intel advertisement being operated at this InWindow location and the partial stop work order which halted advertising until recently. The newest Streetscape for Home Depot has gone up after a the partial stop work order was rescinded by the DOB. I put in a call to some people at the DOB to see if this is a special variance, is due to ongoing legal proceedings, or is just a result of the city putting it's tail between it's legs and allowing advertising to run rampant on our city. I will report back if the DOB does.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Streetscapes Are Getting Out Of Control

Did you know that you are the sixth ingredient in Haagen Dazs' new five ingredient ice cream? (actually it's your spoon but...) I did not, and was happy to be informed by this immense streetscape on 13th and 6th avenue (SEC). I am not sure if InWindow operates this location, but I am putting it on the map anyways. This advertisement in approximately 40'x120'x22' totaling over 3,500 square feet, has no permits, and was served by the city of NY for illegal advertising on 05-29-09.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Abandoned 7th Ave. building bane of neighbors’ block

A recent article in Chelsea Now bemoans the dilapidated building at 210 7th avenue. Since the building went vacant in 2002, complaints have included the illegal advertising that has adorned the building for as long as I can remember. Reporter Sheila McClear writes "But even the ads, the only bright spot on the otherwise derelict property, may be illegal." A simple jaunt to the Department of Buildings website clearly shows this address has no permits which would allow outdoor advertising. In fact the advertising itself might be the very thing that is keeping this building derelict. In the article the Deborah Fenker, speaking of the landlord, is quoted as saying, 'He told me that he got good money for having those ads up in the windows,'. If this building wasn't pulling in revenue from advertising there is a strong chance the landlord would take the initiative to rent the ground floor, which would then require the other maintenance that is drawing so many complaints from local residents.

This makes me think of the conversation I had with the CEO of InWindow, Steve Birnhak. One of his justifications for operating his illegal advertising business was that his ads hide unsightly closed storefront conditions. In this way he suggested his advertisements actually helped fight of the broken window theory from coming to fruition, preventing neighborhoods from slipping into states of decline. It would seem from this article and the conditions at 210 7th avenue, that these streetscape ads might also make it easier for landlords to neglect their properties, actually facilitating neighborhood decline.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

More InWindow Advertising

As of today, InWindow has a new illegal streetscape billboard on 6th avenue between 37th and 38th streets. It has been added to the InWindow Map. With rear projections about 10 feet tall, this moving billboard is a fantastic example of technology used for the most tired visual display, while across the world in Germany they get this "Life-altering 3D projection". After meeting with InWindow over a month back on the suspicion they were sizing us up while attempting to prove their good intentions, they seemed to say they were all about bringing interesting content to the streets and working with the community. This Sprint ad is less than interesting and brings nothing of value to our city while breaking our laws and obscuring our vision with commercial messages. Hot air fills the room.

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Thursday, July 2, 2009


InWindow is back at 113 University place with larger than life digital projections. I Posted it to the InWindow Map, which shows this location's "ups and downs" if you will.

A while back I reported on this illegal advertising location when a large Snickers advertisement preceded what is now and ad for Sprint. The DOB seems to have issued a summons for the unpermitted illegal street level billboard, and yet this new copy is going up in broad daylight. The front door was open when I passed by yesterday and so I poked my head in to see what was going on. A team was setting up the digital projections and so I asked if they worked for InWindow. They explained that "they were from a different ad agency but were working with InWindow on this project." I asked them if they realized the billboard they were working on was illegal, at which point a woman stepped in and said that "They had heard that." I wasn't surprised that "They had heard that", or that they would bold face lie about knowing they were illegally posting outdoor advertising in broad daylight. If "They had heard that", don't you think a smart company would look into such an important potential business catastrophe?

I then proceeded to step outside and take some pictures of the property. They followed me out and talked amongst themselves until one guy pointed to me and said, "He's going to complain." I responded briefly with "of course I'm going to complain", which begged the question from them, "Why?" My simple answer, "Because what you are doing is illegal and the city doesn't want to look at this." didn't seem to sit well. Sorry guys, just looking out for the health a viability of our shared streets and public culture.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

InWindow at 830 Broadway

Yet another illegal InWindow advertisement for Absolute Vodka has popped up, this time at 830 Broadway between 12th and 13th streets. That makes a total of 8 separate locations on the map I am making to keep track of at least a fraction of InWindow's illegal operations.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More InWindow Advertising

An avid reader of PublicAdCampaign sent in yet another InWindow advertising location which has been added to the InWindow map. This one, at the corner of 62nd and 1st avenue looks as if it wraps a Clearview Cinemas. I just called the theater and they are still in business. Looks like they decided to bastardize their front windows in an effort to make a few extra bucks. I was under the impression InWindow was only putting their giant eyesores over closed business', partially to help combat the urban blight that is so many empty storefronts. I guess that isn't the case.

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Meeting with InWindow a Pleasure

Last Wednesday I meet with Steve Birnhak, of InWindow advertising along with Steve Lambert and Laura Maccleery. As I said in some earlier posts, Steve and his partner Ray were actually quite interesting characters, if not simply for their desire to work with the public and find a way to operate their business within the confines of the the law. They seem genuinely concerned with the city, it's economic predicament as well as the beauty of our shared public spaces.

One of the immediate arguments Steve and Ray offered for continuing their illegal storefront vinyl wrap business was simple aesthetics. We sat at Franelli's in SOHO, across from an abandoned storefront whose paper window coverings, hiding construction debris, within were beginning to fall down and become "unsightly". This was pointed out as a good reason to employ giant billboard sized street level advertisements to cover up the problem. According to InWindow, the ads prevented the typical quick decline associated with urban blight as explained by the broken window theory.

A few days ago I ran across the juxtaposition illustrated below which I think properly exemplifies why this argument doesn't hold water. The first photo is of my newest InWindow find, located at 355 Broadway. This Absolute Vodka advertisement not only obscures the windows, but the entire 80 plus foot storefront, including gates and columns. It does a good job of covering what may or may not be a decrepit storefront.

The second image below shows the old Tower Records storefront wrapped in a simple pale blue vinyl sporting the name and number of the Realtor responsible for getting this property back on the market. I would like InWindow to take note of how aesthetics are solved without selling the city to Absolute Vodka or the commercial interests of a few, including InWindow.

355 Broadway

692 Broadway

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

Outdoor Ads: How to Keep Out of Trouble

The following article appeared in Adweek and was written by Steve Birnhak, CEO of InWindow Advertising. I must say, despite operating many illegal street level storefront billboards, the company has a concerned vision of their place in the public sphere, which is unusual to say the least. That said, this call for responsibility does not fully address the concerns of the public and is more a guide for trying to stay out of trouble.

What I'm not sure Steve, or the InWindow understands, is that advertising doesn't have to be aggressive, lewd, or out of place, to be aggressive, lewd, and out of place. In this article Steve talks about certain types of advertising which take advantage of new technologies and which have the potential to be "annoying". He is right. Loud, shocking, moving, bright, distracting, and arresting advertising is being fought by public advocacy groups all over the country. Digital ads especially are being questioned time and time again because they are distracting and potentially dangerous to the public.

Because these forms of outdoor advertising are new, they are immediately questioned by the public. Confronted with them for the first time the public must okay their addition to our shared spaces and in many cases we aren't granting them the right. Steve, running InWindow, I assume believes his advertising ventures to be socially acceptable and not obtrusive. They are after all silent, still images, often a mere 80' by 30' tall. What I think is misunderstood is that the public, put in a position to question the legitimacy of all outdoor ads would likely do so. The billboards, phone kiosks, bus stops, newsstands, subway platforms, subway cars, taxi toppers, bus ads, corporate graffiti etc. are no less obtrusive to us, they are simply too much a part of our city fabric to be noticed. In fact they are just as out of place as the new technologies which are meet with such strong opposition.

PublicAdCampaign hopes to not only fight new forms of insidious corporate messaging, but also shed light on the public's right to curate its the shared public spaces. We can as a whole, determine the look and feel of our public environment, our concerns and our desires, despite how fixed in place many aspects seem to be.

VIA Adweek

Feb 9, 2009 By Steve Birnhak

Not too long ago, outdoor advertising was thought of as a static medium defined by billboards and lifeless signage on highways, buses, phone booths and the sides of buildings. While the interactive nature of other facets of advertising dramatically increased, outdoor was not believed to be a tool for actively engaging the target and, short of incorporating some kind of lascivious or shocking content, creating memorability.

In a relatively short time, however, outdoor has caught up. Today's marketers can zap coupons, promotions and all kinds of content to a passerby's mobile phone using Bluetooth technology. Ads can respond to the movements and gyrations of the pedestrian, causing them to not only notice an ad, but also to spend time in front on it. Holographic and augmented-reality technology, like those recently introduced in street-level, storefront displays are sure to capture attention.

As with any other segment of advertising, some of the strides made within the outdoor niche have been met with controversy and opposition. The new technologies and tools available to marketers seeking compelling and noticeable outdoor campaigns have also created challenges and landmines that need to be heeded so as to avoid unwanted attention from angry residents or politicians looking to make a name for themselves on the local news.

There are some fairly easy ways to avoid trouble:

Consider the neighborhood: Is it residential or commercial? Determine whether the neighborhood is more likely to be quiet during the day and vibrant at night or the other way around. Think about noise sensitivities if your display uses sound. Adjust the "live" hours of your display to ensure that it is not disruptive, but still active during peak traffic hours.

Mesh with the neighborhood: You should also take into account whether the cosmetic nature of the display not only meshes with the look and feel of the neighborhood, but also contributes to its aesthetic quality. If you're not familiar with the neighborhood, a good idea would be to speak with someone at an outdoor ad firm who is an expert in the area so you can determine ahead of time whether your display is likely to cause any problems.

Use technology properly: In terms of technology use, recognize that as useful as something like Bluetooth can be for instantly connecting with a passerby, it also could be annoying if used improperly. The teenager returning from high school might love to receive, via Bluetooth, an offer to trial the latest kung fu video game. But will the middle-aged stockbroker? Again, consider the general populace of the target neighborhood when deploying a Bluetooth enabled feature.

Avoid repetition: Finally, ensure that you are not pinging the same person repeatedly since many people often walk the same route each day and, if they are not interested in your promotion, they will not want it offered to them time after time.

Keep things cool: A general note on deploying any interactive technology: ensure your feature, cool as it may be, will not cause any kind of "freak out." Avoid anything that has the potential to startle an adult, scare a child or even enrage a dog, such as loud sudden noises or unexpected movement. This is especially important for displays that are active at night and in urban areas where most people are even more sensitive to surprises.

The opportunities in outdoor continue to evolve, becoming more dynamic and exciting. But like anything else, they must be pursued carefully and with respect for the surrounding environment to take full advantage of the opportunity and avoid any adverse outcomes. And when pursued in this manner, the potential with outdoor to engage the consumer in meaningful, active and creative ways has never been greater.

Steve Birnhak is founder and CEO of Inwindow Outdoor. He can be reached at

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Why It Came Down, Straight From the Horse's Mouth

Originally I posted about the below illegal InWindow advertisement on May 27th 2009. Days later it was gone and I promised to find out why, thinking the landlord probably thought better.

Steve Birnhak, the CEO of InWindow explained that Absolute Vodka became aware that this advertisement was a mere half block down from a neighborhood church. Upon realizing this they immediately asked for its removal. What I don't understand is why proximity to a church or a grade school has anything to do with where ads can, or cannot go. Do the religious stay within a few block radius of their house of worship, never venturing out of the circle of comfort the ad industry affords them? Better yet, do the young never go home from school? To think that these ads, placed in commercial districts, do not affect or offend the public at large is absurd. The city streets are our collective home and the pathways through and between our communities. To admit that ad material is offensive in one area of the city is to admit its offensiveness to the public, period.

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More InWindow Advertising

I found this InWindow advertisement today on 42nd street between Madison and Park avenue. I added it to the InWindow Google map, bringing the total to 6. This is a particularly small example and it still dwarfs pedestrians. A friend I was with brought up an important question after I took this picture. "Are empty storefronts better than these ads?" he asked, "Do they contribute to a sense of blight themselves and therefor pull our city further into recession and decay?" My immediate answer is empty storefronts are better, but a further explanation is in order.

The idea that these InWindow ads cover blight and thwart neighborhood degeneration due to what is commonly referred to as "the broken window theory" is preposterous. This sociological theory was used to justify massive "cleanup" campaigns against inner city neighborhoods, which often resulted in the razing of entire well established social networks. The idea that a single broken window could lead to quick degeneration of entire areas of the city provided a cancerouse model of social decay, and one that warranted swift and decisive action. This theory has been highly criticized, partially because it has been used as a political tool to demolish instead of rebuild neighborhoods.

In the case of InWindow, the giant illegal advertising billboards swap one form of blight for another. In doing so they do not solve this "broken window" concern, but rather allow corporate vandals to swoop in instead of grafitti artists. Aesthetically, they are arguably better, though a definitive answer to this argument would be hard to find. What isn't arguable is that they are illegal, and a result of a city ruled by corporate concerns over public interest.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

And then Suddenly it Was Gone

Okay so this is just strange. May 27th I saw this InWindow advertisement for Absolute Vodka go up at 320 west 14th street. May 29th that same ad was gone and the location looked like the above. Ill call the landlord and see if I can get any info out of him or her as to why this sign was installed but came down so quickly. A friend of mine suggested the DOB would not issue other work orders, (Seen on front door) which the landlord obviously needs for alterations he or she might make for prospective renters. Makes sense but I will check in.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Inwindow Map Begins

InWindow street level storefront billboards are popping up everywhere. I have made a few posts over the past few months, the most recent involving Steve Lambert's letter to the NY Times after they fail to have anything important to say about the burgeoning illegal business. Just yesterday I found this new addition on 14th street between 8th and 9th avenues. As per usual there is no permit on the DOB website and it is starting to irritate my sensitive demeanor. I decided to start cataloging them in a simple Google Map. If you see ads like these in the windows of your recently closed local shops, chances are they are InWindow's doing. Please take a picture, record the address and send them my way. I will add them to the map and hopefully in a short time we will have a better idea of how fast these locations are proliferating.

This map will also be readily available on the right hand sidebar, along with several other maps which have also been made available.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

InWindow Doesn't Listen to You or the City

I've posted a bunch about Inwindow outdoor advertising because they are tearing through the city at the same incredible rate that storefront businesses are going under. All of their success, wonderfully critiqued by Steve Lambert, is happening on false pretenses. In fact they are operating completely illegally and doing so brazenly. Take for example 936 Broadway. This location originally held a giant illegal Western Union advertisement. The building was issued a stop work order by the DOB for an "OAC SIGN ON DISPLAY WITHOUT A PERMIT" due to multiple complaints, including #1250745. Despite this, today I walked by 936 Broadway and the copy has changed to the above Intel advertisement.

Since 3-10-09 until this moment, there has been a stop work order on the property and this means there should be no work being done until that stop work order is resolved. Yet the copy has miraculously changed. Inwindow is operating brazenly indeed, and is fully ignoring the city and it's wishes. I am perplexed by this, partially because it is standard operating procedure when it comes to advertising and the city, and partially cause I don't really know how to deal with it. I want to call the sign enforcement unit, but I'm sure they already know. In fact they are probably embroiled in some absurd legal battle that prevents them from stopping Inwindow from changing the ad copy.

I said it before and I'll say it again; when the city can't demand what the the law expects, who is the city serving?

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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."

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Can’t Rent Your Storefront? Make it an Illegal Billboard

When new technologies come out and or become cheap enough to implement, the advertising industry often uses them to create new venues for advertising dissemination. It seems the large scale vinyl print has found its newest application as the economic crisis leaves storefronts abandoned and landlords without income. These locations are treated by the Department of buildings the same way billboards are treated and thus require permits. If permits are not obtained the signage is considered illegal and is subject to the same fines and violations associated will illegal billboards.

Recently I found a stop work order plastered on top of a large vinyl building wrap for Western Union on the corner of 22nd street. It seemed that with good reason, the DOB was treating the advertisement like a billboard. Because the premises had not obtained the correct permit from the DOB, the sign was in violation. I was sure similar ads cropping up around the city were illegal as well but needed to find another similar ad so I could look at the DOB website for permit information. Sure enough today I ran across this illegal Snickers building wrap which has no permits and is larger than most billboards even in Times Square. Here is my complaint #1251002

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