Friday, February 26, 2010

This Could Be The Biggest Ad Ever Erected

Animal New York reports that this "20-story couple can be seen discerned from five kilometers away." It may be the biggest outdoor advertisement on Earth but proposed plans in 1999 for Moonvertising would have dwarfed this little puppy.

"Moonvertising involves shining a powerful laser at the moon and projecting an advertising message that can be seen from around the world. Coca-Cola tried to do it in 1999 as the millennium approached, but the FAA was worried about interference with aircraft (i.e. "cutting flying airplanes in half")."

Labels: , , ,

Friday, February 19, 2010

How Many Billboards?, Los Angeles

According to Unurth this morning, the How Many Billboards Project has begun. Not all of the artworks have been put up but I expect more will follow shortly. We are super excited to see LA begin to consider the role of media in public space and its tendency to obliterate other forms of visual practices. I hope a project like this can spark the imagination of many and allow them to ponder alternative uses of our shared environment.


Kerry Tribe

For several days this billboard has been pleasing, entertaining and intriguing me.
I've finally found out that it's part of 'How many billboards?', a project by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture. It's like a glossier, more authorized version of the New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT). (MORE HERE)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Los Angeles' Weather Doesn't Make the Problem Any Better

I just got out to LA for a bit of work, to catch up with some friends, and to check out the utterly horrendous outdoor advertising scene. Yes the digital billboards are out of control, the supergraphic on the side of my hotel is enormous and overwhelming, and yes the Metro Fuel ads, to which the Supreme court delivered a final blow recently, are still getting copy. Tomorrow it's off to see the Philip Lumbang mural that is causing such an uproar all for myself.

In the meantime I leave you with the How Many Billboards? Art in Stead project, presented by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture.
"Twenty-one works in the vein of California's conceptual art movement have been commissioned to critically respond to the medium of the billboard and interpret its role in the urban landscape. Investigating art as an idea as well as art as a media for critical intervention, the exhibition highlights the interaction of Pop, conceptualism and architecture in Los Angeles since the late 1960s."
Although I don't entirely agree with Kimberly, her statement does propose a more beneficent public space and one that begins to call into question advertising's role in the public environment.

Kimberli Meyer's statement:
"The philosophical proposition of the exhibition is simple: art should occupy a visible position in the cacophony of mediated images in the city, and it should do so without merely adding to the visual noise. How Many Billboards? Art In Stead proposes that art periodically displace advertisement in the urban environment.

Billboards are a dominant feature of the landscape in Los Angeles. Thousands line the city's thoroughfares, delivering high-end commercial messages to a repeat audience. Given outdoor advertising's strong presence in public space, it seems reasonable and exciting to set up the possibility for art to be present in this field. The sudden existence of artistic speech mixed in with commercial speech provides a refreshing change of pace. Commercial messaging tells you to buy; artistic messaging encourages you to look and to think." [More Here]

Labels: , ,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Video of Moscow's Billboard Porn Hack [NSFW]

Im not sure if this is appropriate content for advertising takeovers but it sure as hell does get your attention. On top of this there is no mistaking that someone clearly hacked this billboard.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ex-Mistress Uses Billboards To Shame Her Married Beau

Although I wish she didn't have to pay upwards of a quarter million dollars to make such a private statement public, YaVaughnie is definitely properly using public space. Similar to the Robbo vs Banksy beef, an interesting dialogue plays out for all of us to watch. When content like this is posted on the great messaging boards of our time, our interest and interaction with our shared environment becomes a richer and more entertaining experience than when these locations hold their typical one way advertising messages. Good work YaVaughnie!

VIA Gothamist

A woman who reportedly had an eight-and-a-half year affair with the married head of a major technology company purchased at least three Manhattan billboards in an attempt to shame the man. Ads showing Oracle President Charles Phillips posing with his mistress YaVaughnie Wilkins with the quote "'You are my soulmate forever!' - cep" have been posted at the corners of 45th Street and Third Avenue, 49th Street and 7th Avenue, 52nd Street and Broadway, as well as locations in Atlanta and San Francisco.[MORE]

Labels: , ,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

GVSHP Gets Serious About Illegal Signage at Greenwich and 12th Street

We just got an email from Andrew Berman at the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation regarding the illegal Equinox signage at Greenwich Ave. & 12th street. As it explains very thoroughly what has been done to remove the illegal signage, I will copy it below verbatim. Amongst other things the GVSHP polices advertising and signage infractions within their community and has a great track record for making things happen. It seems from this email that the ball is rolling and that this illegal sign will likely come down quickly.
Dear friend,

I wanted to let you know that we have just been informed that the Department of Buildings today issued 13 violations to Equinox for their billboards at Greenwich Avenue and 12th Street. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has also issued them a warning letter, which can be found at PDF.

As you know, we have been pushing the city to issue strong violations against Equinox as soon as possible, to force them to remove the signage. We will continue to push both the city and Equinox until the illegal signage is removed.

Toward that end, please see the article about these efforts in today's Villager newspaper and look for a report on tonight's NY1 news.

Thank you for all your help with this matter. We will continue to keep you informed on our progress in pursuing these billboards' removal.
What is amazing to me is that a single sign like this can cause such outrage because of its high profile nature while an entire company like Contest Promotions or NPA can go completely unaffected, operating over 500 illegal signs around the city of which I have mapped over 180. Not only have we mapped these locations but we have given them to the GVSHP and the DOB. On top of this we have gathered in mass on two occasions to take back these spaces for public use and 9 of us have been arrested. The result of all this has been a resounding quiet to say the least, although we have had a lot of fun.

At first glance it would seem that the public is less concerned about the smaller less obtrusive signage pictured above and run illegally by NPA. Rather I think we have become so accustomed to these smaller signs that we cannot imagine they are actually illegal. In fact I think unless something glares so brightly that you cannot not notice it, most of us spend little time assessing the quality of our city streets and realizing that we have some level of control over those spaces. This knowledge is not only fantastic on the individual level, but collectively if we question and take responsibility for our public spaces we become very invested in our neighborhoods and communities.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Blue Outdoor Offers New Windowscape To Ruin Your Day In The Park

Here at PublicAdCampaign we get lots of fun emails from OAC's that don't have a clue about what we do. Just yesterday we received a press release from Blue Outdoor offering the largest Windowscape we have ever seen right across the street from Bryant Park at 1095 6th Avenue. For a mere $150,000.00 a month your company can take advantage of all the public individuals attempting to find relaxation right across the street. With over 200 feet of space along 6th Avenue as well as 100 feet along 42nd street, this location would dwarf every billboard we know of in this city. If this is a little too pricey, you can opt for a cheaper location right around the corner on 42nd street with 2,500 square feet of advertising space for a mere $50,000.00 a month. If you are one of the people who think you can ignore outdoor advertising, I would bet companies willing to shell out $150,000.00 a month tend to disagree.

As of now there are no permits at either of these locations for 3rd party signage as the zoning does not allow it. We will keep our eyes on the street and report any infractions. We have found that simply posting these shenanigans on our site can deter OAC's from making the mistake of littering our public spaces with commercial messages. We sincerely hope this will be the case with this supergraphic as it will be detrimental to our city and public health. [Download Press Release BlueOutdoor_42ndst.pdf] [Download Press Release BlueOutdoor_10956thAve.pdf]

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Billboards on Co-ops/Condos: How to Make Money on Signage & Avoid Fines

Frank Lovece, a reporter for the 28-year-old New York co-op/condo-board magazine Habitat, interviewed me about billboard etiquette in NYC a few months ago. The article is a what to do and not do when thinking about renting the side of your co-op to an OAC. It is pretty straight forward, but if you are not familiar with how the process works, an interesting read. As the article is mainly about how to go about renting without getting in trouble with the law, we were contacted as an advocacy group familiar with some of the aesthetic and social issues surrounding outdoor advertising. Quoted at the end of the article, our question was just because you can make money off of selling our collective public spaces, does that mean you should?

Jan. 4, 2010 — Nearly one million dollars.

That's the amount of fines the city levied against 59 Fourth Avenue, in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, for two years of illegal billboard signage. And though that figure is divided among the co-op there and the two companies that brokered and mounted the hanging vinyl billboards for the movie Twilight, TV's King of the Hill and Boost Mobile phones, it's still an enormous sum for any co-op or condo board to absorb. [MORE]

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Mésarchitectures

VIA Dezeen

Architect Didier Fiuza Faustino of Paris studio Mésarchitectures has installed a pair of swing seats on a billboard frame as part of the Shenzhen & Hong Kong bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture in China this week.

Labels: , , ,

Street Artists Doom Billboard Ads to Violent Fate

Via Animal New York

Some big tributes to Doom, the infamously violent early-90s video game, have been taking over billboards in Berlin. Turning commercial propaganda into potential blood baths, street artists Mr Talion, Epoxy, Baveux and Kone pasted unsuspecting ads with the display from the first person shooter favored by the Columbine High School killers. [More Images Here]

Labels: , , , ,

A beautiful Billboard By Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins

Working as fine artists often in a typical gallery context, here Jennifer Marman & Daniel Borins present a more pleasing and contemplative use of the modern billboard format.

In Sit You (Rotating Billboard and Park Bench)«, 2006 by Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Toronto City Council Adopts Billboard Tax and Comprehensive New Signs By-Law

Fighting the encroachment of commercial messages in our shared public spaces happens in many different ways. In Toronto, they have recently won a hard fought legal battle which will regulate signage in the city with an unprecedented billboard tax. We commend Rami Tabello and all of the the activists and artist who worked incredibly hard to challenge the abusive outdoor advertising companies that once reigned supreme on the streets of this marvelous Canadian city. The new by-law is an indication that the public, through hard work and perseverance, can actually alter the space they live in and create for themselves the city they so desire.


It was a fantastic day at City Council and someday we should let you know the inside scoop of how a rag tag team of public space and arts activists beat a murder of high priced billboard lobbyists and convinced City Council to adopt the Buildings Departments’ recommendations to adopt a $10.4 Million billboard tax and new by-law to regulate billboards. [More Here]

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Billboard Industry Uses Illegal Billboards to Promote

In typical OOH advertising industry fashion, illegality abounds in Toronto. In an effort to convince the public that a small tax on billboard advertising will run the OOH business into the ground, OOH companies in Toronto have been hanging their own public service announcements around town. This is in spite of the fact that the city of Toronto, in an independent study sees the tax reflecting a mere 7% of the ad industries revenue. This is on top of the fact that the tax will go to supporting much needed public arts funding in Toronto. I can't even begin to explain the complexity of the *$%#storm surrounding this battle so I would suggest going straight to the source if you have any interest.


"How fitting. We have discovered that the Out of Home Marketing Association is using illegal billboards to promote" [MORE HERE]

Labels: , , , , ,

Less Billboards, More Art! Please Support This Cause

Toronto is a city filled with illegal outdoor signage and antiquated sign laws. Rami Tabello of has been fighting to change these laws and it looks as if they will make headway this morning morning at 9:30 am when the debate over the Signs By-Law and Billboard Tax will take place. The post below via the View on Canadian Art blog briefly describes how these new taxes and Sign By-law might further the arts agenda in Toronto and bring public content to the forefront of public space.

This just in from the Department of Culture, a community of artists and arts professionals who organized themselves in the wake of the Harper Government’s brutal cuts to the arts in the past year, in order to ensure “the social and cultural health and prosperity of our nation in the face of a Federal Government that is aggressively undermining the values that define Canada.” [MORE HERE]

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Clergy Can't Be Happy About This

A while back Charlie Todd of Urban Prankster sent me an image of a church in Italy that was under construction, and covered with a large advertisement. What was odd was that whoever was doing the vinyl wraps had gone through the trouble of first wrapping the scaffolding in a rendering of what the church would look like after construction was finished. My favorite Italian friend (sorry Diego), just sent me some more images of churches in Italy that are covered by large, garish, often offensive advertisements (in the eyes of the papacy). Again they seem to first be wrapped in renderings of the intended restoration. I asked her what the deal was, and she quickly wrote me back.
I mostly found out about the Venice restoration...the church was upset with the leggy chick. Apparently the money for the restoration is given by the City Office for Architectural Art (or something like that) and they raise money by selling ads. They can't actually do this on public buildings but can on Churches. They actually do approve which ads get put up and claim they had rejected this ad but...Anyway, the company that puts up the ads will pay a 500 Euro fine, which is nothing considering they will give about 650.000 Euro for the restoration. I'm still reading stuff
I understand outdoor advertising subsidizes public projects all the time but this seems like a bad idea.

San Simeon Piccolo on the Grand Canal in Venice
The bell tower of the Chiesa dell'Assunta in Positano
San Simeon Piccolo on the Grand Canal in Venice
Chiesa Trinita' dei Monti in Rome

Labels: , , ,

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.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Clear Channel Goes Digital In NYC Burbs

VIA Media Daily News

Slowly but surely, digital signs are closing in on Manhattan. With a stronghold in Times Square, the signs are now moving to surround the island from the north. The newest deployment brings a digital display network to the downtown area of White Plains, NY.

The array of eight digital signs, each with a display surface measuring about 20 square feet in area, were installed by Clear Channel Outdoor on municipal property belonging to the White Plains Department of Parking, under the terms of an existing contract between the city and MD Sales & Marketing.

In addition to displaying static advertising images on an eight-second loop, the signs feature scrolling digital text that will allow city officials to communicate important messages to the public. For example, signs directing parking and traffic during concerts and festivals or posting Amber Alerts and other emergency advisories.

From the advertising perspective, downtown White Plains offers an audience with attractive demographic attributes.

In addition to the city's 56,000 residents, the downtown sees heavy traffic by commuters coming and going from the White Plains transit hub, as well as en route to various government buildings, bringing the weekday total to over 200,000.

White Plains is surrounded by converging highways, including U.S. 287, U.S. 684, U.S. 95, and U.S. 87, as well as the Bronx River Parkway, the Merritt Parkway and the Sprain Brook Parkway. Many commuters travel to Westchester to catch Metro-North Railroad trains at the White Plains or North White Plains stations, which are located 30 to 45 minutes north of Grand Central Station, with combined through-traffic of about 3 million in 2006.

In June, Lamar Advertising Co. unveiled a new billboard in the Bronx using low-power digital signage technology developed by Magink. The new sign, located at 640 Soundview Ave., allows Lamar to display multiple ads with only a modest amount of electricity.

Magink displays are not as bright or distracting as other types of digital signage, meaning that local residents are less likely to object to their presence.

To create an image with Magink, an electrical charge is sent to a billboard covered with helix-shaped organic molecules. These rearrange themselves in different shapes following the distribution of the electrical charge. After the image is formed, no more energy is required to keep it in place, unlike LED billboards, which require a continuous source of power.

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Billboard watchdogs clean up skylines

VIA The Christian Science Monitor

Standing amid the assortment of new and old buildings in downtown Toronto, Rami Tabello clearly relishes his role as crusader: “Take a look at my handiwork,” he boasts, pointing to a rectangle of discolored brick several stories high on...[MORE HERE]

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

City Attorney Trutanich Goes After Pocketbook of Rogue Billboard Company

Considering the law, and simple respect for the public's wishes doesn't deter outdoor advertising companies from operating illegally in our shared common spaces, penalties are the only way to curb aggressive media takeovers of our public environment. Often these penalties seem outrageously large to the layman, but are in fact much less than is needed to stop illegal billboards from blighting the public.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Two years ago, a company called L.A. Outdoor Advertising put up full-sized billboards along the north side of the Harbor freeway downtown. There were some problems with this—the company hadn’t obtained any permits and the billboards violated various sections of the city’s sign code relating to height and freeway proximity, in addition to the general prohibition on off-site advertising signs.

The city cited the company, and predictably, the company reacted by suing in federal court to block enforcement. Now, as the suit works its way through the legal system, newly-elected City Attorney Carmen Trutanich has filed a counterclaim seeking more than $6 million in damages and an order requiring the removal of three of the billboards, which are on private property but less than 100 feet from the roadway.

This welcome action addresses an ongoing complaint about enforcement of sign regulations—that the penalties for violations are so insignificant that a company eyeing the considerable revenue from billboards and supergraphic signs in prime locations like the freeways will simply consider it a cost of doing business.

That complaint is valid if the city relies on the penalty in the municipal code for sign violations—a maximum of $100 a day. However, the municipal code also states that any violation may be designated a “public nuisance” and subject to a fine of up to $2,500 a day. That provision hasn’t been used in the past for sign code violations, for reasons that could be open to speculation, but include the fact that the building department can’t simply levy the fine but must rely on legal action by the City Attorney.

The City Attorney has also gone after the owners of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and the company that put up a huge supergraphic sign on one side of the historic building without permits.

No doubt these cases will drag through the courts for some time before any final resolution. But if the city prevails, it could throw a big monkey wrench into the strategy of rogue sign companies, which is to put billboards and supergraphic signs wherever they can get property owners to sign leases, then sue when inspectors come around to point out the violations of the sign code.

These companies appear to be operating on the theory that even if they ultimately lose in court they stand to make millions in the interim from advertising revenue. If they could lose all or most of that revenue, they might think twice before digging that hole in the ground or hanging that ad over the side of a building.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, September 14, 2009

Billboards Spur a Fight: Free Speech vs. Beauty

VIA The New York Times

Billboards on the Long Island Expressway in Queens. Billboard companies are appealing a court ruling allowing the city to regulate the signs on highways

Published: September 13, 2009

Seen from the Long Island Expressway, the Manhattan skyline glows on the evening horizon. The Empire State and Chrysler Buildings rise above the rest, their art deco spires lit up like lighthouses marking the way.

Then the highway dips, and the view changes.

Martha Stewart’s face is plastered on a billboard promoting her new television show. An enormous cartoon dinosaur nudges a terrified woolly mammoth in an ad for “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs.” A bright orange board advertises AT&T, and others hawk Honda Civics, Mercedes-Benz, Holiday Inn and the TV series “The Good Wife.”

The sight of marching billboards is also familiar to anyone who drives on the Gowanus Expressway, the Henry Hudson Parkway and other city highways. But unlike the ads-cum-attractions in Times Square, many of these billboards are illegal.

Since the 1940s, at least on paper, the city has restricted, or banned outright, the placement of billboards along its highways. But because of haphazard enforcement and what a federal judge described as “subterfuge” and willful lawbreaking by sign companies, the rise of the billboards — some even on city property — went on unchecked.

By the time the judge, Paul A. Crotty of Federal District Court in Manhattan, issued a decision in the spring that upheld the city’s right to regulate the billboards and excoriated it for not doing so sooner, no one could even say for sure which of the more than 600 highway billboards had the right to be there.

“The City’s enforcement of its zoning regulations has been inconsistent and less than vigorous,” the judge wrote in his 62-page opinion. “The billboard industry has taken advantage of this lax enforcement and has consistently ignored the regulations on billboard sign location.”

Billboard companies, which have earned far more from advertisers over the years than they have paid in fines, have appealed the ruling.

“Right now, it’s not as prevalent as it used to be,” Vanessa Gruen, director of special projects at the Municipal Art Society of New York, said of the advertising. The society has been keeping tabs on billboards in the city for more than 100 years. “But these companies still make enormous amounts of money, and over a long time, they have gotten used to it, and they are not ready to give it up.”

The debate over billboards goes back more than a century, and its contours were established early: free speech and enterprise versus aesthetics and safety. In 1902, The New York Times, in its periodic editorial Street Signs, declared that billboards had become a problem.

“A frightful spectacle, made so more by the wilderness of discordant and shrieking signs,” it read.

Over the years, the city eventually triumphed in limiting signs near most parks and residential areas. But along the arteries leading into New York, the wild west of the city’s advertising acreage, enforcement was difficult — even when zoning laws finally passed in the 1940s banned most billboards within 200 feet of major highways.

In 1979, when the federal government was threatening to withhold $25 million in highway funds from a cash-strapped New York because it was not enforcing its own highway advertising rules, City Council members performed a legislative trick: they grandfathered in every existing billboard — about 150 at the time — so none would be in violation of the law.

Today, there are at least 634, according to court documents. But not all the post-1979 billboards are illegal. City laws make exceptions for billboards attached to, or on the grounds of, the businesses they advertise, and for signs bearing public-service announcements.

But the judge wrote that some billboard companies built legal signs, with city permission, then converted them to so-called off-site commercial billboards, rendering them illegal.

“Other times,” he wrote, “the billboard companies would not bother with subterfuge and simply erected signs with no permitting at all.”

The city and billboard companies agree that many of today’s signs would be considered illegal, but neither side has been able to say how many.

Many billboards have changed ownership several times. Companies also have complained that city paperwork showing which billboards are legal is in disarray, while the city has blamed property owners for requesting documents over the years and not returning them. Billboard companies typically pay property owners for the right to operate signs on their lots, then charge rent to advertisers.

In an attempt to begin enforcing the law more regularly — and to get a handle on the size of the problem — in 2005 the city began requiring billboard companies to show proof that their signs were legal. It also began enforcing fines of $10,000 and up per violation.

Six billboard companies sued, including Clear Channel Outdoor, which has 84 signs along arterial highways, earning about $10 million in revenue per year from them, according to court records. A lawyer for Clear Channel said he would not comment on pending litigation.

The city argued that it had the right to control the spread of billboards for aesthetics and to limit distractions to drivers. The companies sued because “they basically realized their history of not conforming, and that it will have consequences,” said Gabriel Taussig, the city’s chief administrative lawyer.

The companies argued that the laws restricted free-speech rights, and noted that the city itself and other public works, like the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Amtrak, had nonconforming signs on their own land. The companies also complained that the city was asking them to produce records of signs dating back more than 25 years after requiring no such record-keeping in the past.

“The city’s regulation of highway billboards has more holes than Swiss cheese, demonstrating plainly that its asserted interest is nothing but a pretext for the city’s true purpose for its regulation: to eliminate competition and make money for itself,” lawyers for some of the companies wrote.

The city said that it did not believe until recently that it had the power to regulate billboards on land owned by the M.T.A., a state agency or Amtrak. It also said that after the companies’ lawsuit was filed it began removing billboards on city land close to highways, including three on the High Line, an unused railroad track near the West Side Highway that it acquired in 2005 and is now a park.

Although the judge ruled in the city’s favor, the view along the city’s highways is not likely to change quickly.

Since April 6, the city has pledged not to levy any fines until the appeal is decided — a process that could take up to a year.

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Artists' Billboards For Target

image stolen from Patrick McMullan

A good friend of mine Stephanie Diamond told me about this recent Target art/ad/fashion collaboration. You know how I feel about this type of artistic degradation.


Just in time for New York's "Fashion Week," the art-friendly people at Target have hired four artists to provide flashy designs -- featuring Target's trademark red target image -- for the company's giant billboards in Times Square. The artists are Laurie Rosenwald, Michael Anderson, Josh Goldstein and Charles Wilkin, all selected for the job by the New York ad company Mother. The ads stay up through October, then the vinyl is re purposed into totes designed by Anna Sui -- which are available for $29.99 each (click here).

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Incredible Billboards

This image is from a link sent to me by a friend and is part of a post on 50 extraordinary and attractive billboards. There is some incredible work and it goes to show how fun and interesting outdoor imagery can be. In fact these outdoor advertisements, especially those with site specificity are often wonderful engagements with the public environment that cause you to notice relationships between yourself and your surroundings. The problem is instead of that being the ultimate goal, the thoughts created by the imagery before you end up being punctuated by the company responsible for the ad. This use of public space and artistic talent to heighten your relationship with a corporate identity is both manipulative and an improper use of public space. The public is not a commercial playground, it is a forum for public debate and interactions. Despite being incredible, these advertisements are still an abuse of our shared public environment.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eyesore of the Week: Brought to You By CBS Outdoor

Ban Billboard Blight always does a good job of shining a light on outdoor advertising's shortcomings and general double talk. This recent post is no different.

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

This billboard on Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood is just a stone’s throw from the glitzy intersections of Sunset & Vine and Hollywood & Vine. [MORE]

Labels: , , ,

Friday, July 31, 2009

Lamar Advertising’s “Billboard Reduction” Plan: Why L.A. Should Show the Company the Door

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Up until two years ago, this Louisiana-based billboard company had virtually no presence in L.A., although it was the largest owner of billboards nationwide. Then it shelled out $100 million for Vista Media, a company with some 4,000 signs, and just like that became the largest owner of billboards in L.A. Now it wants to trade almost all of those signs—remove them, in other words—for the right to put up brand new billboards, some digital, and many on city-owned property in exchange for the payment of a fee to fatten starving city coffers. [More]

Labels: , , ,

Monday, July 6, 2009

Spying Billboards

Nicolas Herve from the Debunkers collective was telling me about spying billboards in Paris when we meet last week. I haven't really heard much about them and didn't pay it too much mind until he sent me the article below from the New York Times.

Rick Rivera, left, and Nathan Lichon are drawn to an electronic billboard in Manhattan.

Published: May 31, 2008

In advertising these days, the brass ring goes to those who can measure everything — how many people see a particular advertisement, when they see it, who they are. All of that is easy on the Internet, and getting easier in television and print.

Billboards are a different story. For the most part, they are still a relic of old-world media, and the best guesses about viewership numbers come from foot traffic counts or highway reports, neither of which guarantees that the people passing by were really looking at the billboard, or that they were the ones sought out.

Now, some entrepreneurs have introduced technology to solve that problem. They are equipping billboards with tiny cameras that gather details about passers-by — their gender, approximate age and how long they looked at the billboard. These details are transmitted to a central database.

Behind the technology are small start-ups that say they are not storing actual images of the passers-by, so privacy should not be a concern. The cameras, they say, use software to determine that a person is standing in front of a billboard, then analyze facial features (like cheekbone height and the distance between the nose and the chin) to judge the person’s gender and age. So far the companies are not using race as a parameter, but they say that they can and will soon.

The goal, these companies say, is to tailor a digital display to the person standing in front of it — to show one advertisement to a middle-aged white woman, for example, and a different one to a teenage Asian boy.

“Everything we do is completely anonymous,” said Paolo Prandoni, the founder and chief scientific officer of Quividi, a two-year-old company based in Paris that is gearing up billboards in the United States and abroad. Quividi and its competitors use small digital billboards, which tend to play short videos as advertisements, to reach certain audiences.

Over Memorial Day weekend, a Quividi camera was installed on a billboard on Eighth Avenue near Columbus Circle in Manhattan that was playing a trailer for “The Andromeda Strain,” a mini-series on the cable channel A&E.

“I didn’t see that at all, to be honest,” said Sam Cocks, a 26-year-old lawyer, when the camera was pointed out to him by a reporter. “That’s disturbing. I would say it’s arguably an invasion of one’s privacy.”

Organized privacy groups agree, though so far the practice of monitoring billboards is too new and minimal to have drawn much opposition. But the placement of surreptitious cameras in public places has been a flashpoint in London, where cameras are used to look for terrorists, as well as in Lower Manhattan, where there is a similar initiative.

Although surveillance cameras have become commonplace in banks, stores and office buildings, their presence takes on a different meaning when they are meant to sell products rather than fight crime. So while the billboard technology may solve a problem for advertisers, it may also stumble over issues of public acceptance.

“I guess one would expect that if you go into a closed store, it’s very likely you’d be under surveillance, but out here on the street?” Mr. Cocks asked. At the least, he said, there should be a sign alerting people to the camera and its purpose.

Quividi’s technology has been used in Ikea stores in Europe and McDonald’s restaurants in Singapore, but it has just come to the United States. Another Quividi billboard is in a Philadelphia commuter station with an advertisement for the Philadelphia Soul, an indoor football team. The Philadelphia billboard was installed by Motomedia, a London-based company that converts retail and street space into advertisements. It installed the A&E billboard in association with Pearl Media, a Butler, N.J., company.

“I think a big part of why it’s accepted is that people don’t know about it,” said Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group.

“You could make them conspicuous,” he said of video cameras. “But nobody really wants to do that because the more people know about it, the more it may freak them out or they may attempt to avoid it.”

And the issue gets thornier: the companies that make these systems, like Quividi and TruMedia Technologies, say that with a slight technological addition, they could easily store pictures of people who look at their cameras.

The companies say they do not plan to do this, but Mr. Tien said he thought their intentions were beside the point. The companies are not currently storing video images, but they could if compelled by something like a court order, he said.

For now, “there’s nothing you could go back to and look at,” said George E. Murphy, the chief executive of TruMedia who was previously a marketing executive at DaimlerChrysler. “All it needs to do is look at the audience, process what it sees and convert that to digital fields that we upload to our servers.”

TruMedia’s technology is an offshoot of surveillance work for the Israeli government. The company, whose slogan is “Every Face Counts,” is testing the cameras in about 30 locations nationwide. One TruMedia client is Adspace Networks, which runs a network of digital screens in shopping malls and is testing the system at malls in Chesterfield, Mo., Winston-Salem, N.C., and Monroeville, Pa. Adspace’s screens show a mix of content, like the top retail deals at the mall that day, and advertisements for DVDs, movies or consumer products.

Within advertising circles, these camera systems are seen as a welcome answer to the longstanding problem of how to measure the effectiveness of billboards, and how to figure out what audience is seeing them. On television, Nielsen ratings help marketers determine where and when commercials should run, for example. As for signs on highways, marketers tend to use traffic figures from the Transportation Department; for pedestrian billboards, they might hire someone to stand nearby and count people as they walk by.

The Internet, though, where publishers and media agencies can track people’s clicks for advertising purposes, has raised the bar on measurement. Now, it is prodding billboards into the 21st century.

“Digital has really changed the landscape in the sort of accuracy we can get in terms of who’s looking at our creative,” Guy Slattery, senior vice president for marketing for A&E, said of Internet advertising. With Quividi, Mr. Slattery said, he hoped to get similar information from what advertisers refer to as the out-of-home market.

“We’re always interested in getting accurate data on the audience we’re reaching,” he said, “and for out-of-home, this promises to give a level of accuracy we’re not used to seeing in this medium.”

Industry groups are scrambling to provide their own improved ways of measuring out-of-home advertising. An outdoor advertising association, the Traffic Audit Bureau, and a digital billboard and sign association, the Out-of-Home Video Advertising Bureau, are both devising more specific measurement standards that they plan to release by the fall.

Even without cameras, digital billboards encounter criticism. In cities like Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, outdoor advertising companies face opposition from groups that call their signs unsightly, distracting to drivers and a waste of energy.

There is a dispute over whether digital billboards play a role in highway accidents, and a national study on the subject is expected to be completed this fall by a unit of the Transportation Research Board. The board is part of a private nonprofit institution, the National Research Council.

Meanwhile, privacy concerns about cameras are growing. In Britain, which has an estimated 4.2 million closed-circuit television cameras — one for every 14 people — the matter has become a hot political issue, with some legislators proposing tight restrictions on the use and distribution of the footage.

Reactions to the A&E billboard in Manhattan were mixed. “I don’t want to be in the marketing,” said Antwann Thomas, 17, a high school junior, after being told about the camera. “I guess it’s kind of creepy. I wouldn’t feel safe looking at it.”

But other passers-by shrugged. “Someone down the street can watch you looking at it — why not a camera?” asked Nathan Lichon, 25, a Navy officer.

Walter Peters, 39, a truck driver for a dairy, said: “You could be recorded on the street, you could be recorded in a drugstore, whatever. It doesn’t matter to me. There’s cameras everywhere.”

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Documentary on Illegal Billboards in Toronto

I love the fact that Toronto calls for a special enforcement unit to take care of the proliferation of illegal advertisements. Let it be known we have such a unit in New York City and they are so over burdened that public activist calling out over 130 illegal advertisements has rendered little to no results. In fact, the process of calling out said advertisements resulted in the arrest of 4 concerned public citizens. We not only gave the DOB Sign enforcement unit a map of NPA City Outdoor illegal locations, but provided photographic documentation as well. Despite this fact, no action has been taken against the offending outdoor advertising company. When does it become a citizens responsibility to act outside the law because the law cannot enforce the public's wishes?

Labels: , , , , , ,

Friday, June 12, 2009

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.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, June 1, 2009

Forcibly Removing an Illegal Sign Downtown

I'm happy to hear that the DOB has gone ahead and begun to physically remove illegal signs when OAC's and building owners are non-compliant. I know this has been an uphill battle for the DOB, and this recent action is more akin to the NYSAT project than to normal city operations, which often favor legal proceedings over direct response.

This is an indication that New York is finally allowing itself to regulate the public environment, instead of the high powered lawyers and millions of dollars in advertising revenue. Despite this being a somewhat unorthodox and ultimately an authoritative move on New York's part, something we don't necessarily want to condone, it is the only option left. What can they do when this is the way the city and it's residents are treated by outdoor advertising companies?
“After a removal order was posted, a Department of Buildings inspection determined the sign was removed, yet it was promptly reinstalled days after the inspection.”
Now the only problem is I'm sure the city paid Service Sign Erectors, the company responsible for the removal of the sign. In fact, chances are this is the same company that puts the illegal advertising signs up in the first place.

VIA The New York Times

By David W. Dunlap

Photo Carly Sullivan/New York City Department of Buildings.

A crew from Service Sign Erectors removed an illegal billboard at Broadway and Maiden Lane under orders from the New York City Department of Buildings.

For several years — in spite of 103 violation notices issued against it — a three-story, wrap-around billboard has blanketed the lower floors of the 19th-century Cushman Building, 174 Broadway, at Maiden Lane.

On Thursday, clearly feeling that its enforcement efforts had been lost on OTR Media Group, which installed the sign, and 1 Maiden Lane Realty, which owns the building, the Department of Buildings took the sign down itself.

“This is the first time the Department of Buildings has physically removed an illegal sign from a building,” the agency’s press secretary, Kate Lindquist, said. A company called Service Sign Erectors performed the work for the city.

Illegal SignDavid W. Dunlap/The New York Times

In recent months, the sign had been advertising Jaguar automobiles.

“Not only do illegal advertising signs have a negative impact on a neighborhood’s quality of life, they also can pose a danger to the public if they are not safely installed,” said Ed Fortier, the agency’s executive director of special enforcement. “These signs were installed without a permit, and we removed them to protect pedestrians and the building’s tenants. We remove signs in cases where property owners and outdoor advertising companies repeatedly flout the law.”

By “repeatedly,” the Department of Buildings said it was referring to 103 violation notices issued to OTR and 1 Maiden Lane since July 2007. In January, the agency said, it took the matter to the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings.

“The attorney for the respondent signed a stipulation agreeing to cease the display of illegal signage at the premises, and a judge recommended the removal of the sign,” Ms. Lindquist said in a statement. “After a removal order was posted, a Department of Buildings inspection determined the sign was removed, yet it was promptly reinstalled days after the inspection.”

The department said that 517 violation notices had been issued to OTR-controlled locations citywide. The company’s phone line is answered by an automatic system. Messages left Thursday at three extensions — the general switchboard, the sales office and the operations office — were not immediately returned.

Despite the illegality, buildings are constantly being pressed into service as billboards: the Museum of Arts and Design in April 2006, 475 Fifth Avenue in November 2006, the Chanel building at 15 East 57th Street in October 2008 and the former Brooks Brothers store at Broadway and 22nd Street in March.

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, May 22, 2009

NYC Building Code - NPA City Outdoor

Looks like someone else isn't all that happy with NPA City Outdoor either. In fact the reader seems to think the recent NPA ploy to turn their illegal third party signs into legal first party signs doesn't hold up when you look at the building code and definitions of what an OAC (Outdoor Advertising Company) is. Indicting the company on several counts of unlawful activity and operation procedures, they write...

I have extensive knowledge with the building code and zoning resolution of NYC.
NPA signs are highly illegal and most probably do not have permits. I've even seen some of the signs on fully residential buildings.

In Title 26, Subchapter 4 of the NYC Building Code, the law states that a permit is required for any outdoor signs greater than 6 square feet, especially advertising signs. I am almost positive that about 90% of their signs do not have permits. Additionally, anyone in the outdoor advertising business is required to register as an OAC (Outdoor Advertising Company): §49-11 Effective dates. (a) On and after the 60th day after the effective date of this chapter, it shall be unlawful for an OAC to engage in the outdoor advertising business, or, by way of advertising, promotions or other methods, hold itself out as engaging in the outdoor advertising business, unless such OAC is registered with and has been issued a registration number by the Department and such registration has not expired or been revoked.

The paragraph below states the definitions of what it is to be an outdoor advertiser:
§26-259 Definitions – b) The term “outdoor advertising company” means a person, corporation, partnership or other business entity that as a part of the regular conduct of its business engages in or by way of advertising, promotions or other methods, holds itself out as engaging in the outdoor advertising business. Such term shall not include the owner or manager of a building or premises who markets space on such building or premises directly to advertisers. (THEY STILL CAN’T HIDE UNDER THE PROMOTIONS/RAFFLE TICKET GARBAGE THAT THEY ARE TRYING TO)
c) The term “outdoor advertising business” means the business of selling, leasing, marketing, managing or otherwise either directly or indirectly making space on signs situated on building and premises within the city of NY available to others for advertising purposes.

This paragraph shows the penalties that should be enforced:
§26-262 Criminal and civil penalties for violations by outdoor advertising companies; other enforcement: a (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an outdoor advertising company shall be liable for a civil penalty if a sign under its control has been erected, maintained, attached, affixed, painted on, or in any other manner represented on a building or premises in violation of any provision of the zoning resolution, administrative code or rules adopted pursuant thereto relating to signs.
(2) It shall be unlawful for an outdoor advertising company to sell, lease, market, manage or otherwise make available to others for advertising purposes space on a sign that has been erected, maintained, attached, affixed, painted on or in any other manner represented on a building or premises in violation of any provision of the zoning resolution, administrative code or rules adopted pursuant thereto or to enter into any agreement for such purpose.
(3) On and after a date to be provided by rule, it shall be unlawful for an outdoor advertising company to sell or otherwise transfer control of a sign or sign location or of any right of such company to sell, lease, market, manage or otherwise make space on a sign or at a sign location available to others for advertising purposes to an outdoor advertising company that is not registered in accordance with this article and the rules of the department.
(4) An outdoor advertising company that violates any of the provisions of paragraphs one, two or three of this subdivision shall be subject to a civil penalty of, for a first violation, not more than fifteen thousand dollars and, for a second or subsequent violation, not more than twenty-five thousand dollars.
(5) Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law, an outdoor advertising company shall, upon being found guilty, be subject to fines or imprisonment or both pursuant to sections 26-126 or 26-248 of the code if a sign under its control has been erected, maintained, attached, affixed painted on, or in any other manner represented on a building or premises in violation of any provision of the zoning resolution, administrative code or rules adopted pursuant thereto relating to signs.

These signs need to be removed:
Chapter 49: “Subchapter D – Removal, Storage, and Disposal of Signs and Sign Structures.”

It just appears that the Department of Buildings does not have enough manpower to do so, or NPA has someone working on the inside, turning a blind eye to the fact.

I would do nearly anything to help to get NPA off the street. What they are doing is the equivalent of just putting posters and billboards wherever they feel they want, without obtaining the proper permits, legal advice, acceptance from community etc., and they have been doing so for years! They act as if they are not in the outdoor advertising business, but a league of their own, unharmed by the law, especially now with these “promotions/raffles”, but they can’t hide anymore. Look at 26-262 #3.

Please let me know how I can help further,

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, May 16, 2009

We Tow Your Ad ~ Your Business Booms

Coastal Ads will take advantage of you at the beach. Seriously?

"That’s exactly right. Using a brand new, large-format floating billboard, Coastal Ad’s pulls your message up and down the packed, Ocean City beach-line. Imagine your message slowly passing back and forth on a beautiful summer day, in front of thousands and thousands of impressionable beach goers with money to spend…"

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Toronto Making Huge Strides

Rami Tabello's tipped me off to the billboard tax being pushed through by in Toronto. Obviously this is an ingenious way to begin funding the public arts and a way for the advertising world to pay the citizens of this world back for the mental abuse we have been put through daily in our public spaces. I think of the tax as the rent advertisers must pay for the space they take up in my head.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

I AM Sums It Up In With A High Five

Okay, there was so much amazing work made Saturday that I'm hesitant to post anything until it all sits together in some democratic space similar to the public environment is was created in and for. That said this piece by I AM sums up my sentiments about the project as a whole.

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

Monday, April 13, 2009

Billboard Revenue Meltdown

I walk past these two advertisements almost everyday on my way to a studio I work out of often. Ussually they advertise for some high fashion clothing complany or an ucpoming movie that is willing to shell out what are probably big bucks for such prime chesea real estate. Both had been empty for quite a while until the Manhattan Mini Storage sign was put up on the right billboard about a month ago. The billboard on the left stayed blank until this ad for Larry Flynt's Hustler Club went up no more than two days ago. A while back I posted about what I thought was a unusual number of empty billboards probably caused by economic fears and cuts in advertising spending. The recent posting of this ad for Larry Flynt only strengthens my belief that the large outdoor advertising companies are feeling the burn of economic meltdown. If not, these billbaords would not have sat idle for so many months only to be used by what are clearly companies taking advantage of what are probably highly reduced rental rates.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, April 2, 2009

What Invites, and What Alienates Us in Our Shared Public Spaces

The following quote comes from Ban Billboard Blight's response to "a response by Stuart Magruder to a March 26 article in the L.A. Times titled 'L.A.’s Great Signage Debate' by architectural critic Christopher Hawthorne." Amazing. It also happens to be an eloquent summary of the difference between place signage and advertising, sometimes referred to as first party signage and third party signage.
"The more insidious mistake that Mr. Hawthorne makes is his assessment of what is and what is not advertising. He rolls into one category the “thrillingly tall billboards…on the Sunset Strip” with the Hollywood sign, the LAX sign, the address numbers on the Caltrans building, and several others. Unfortunately, only the fist example - the billboards on Sunset Strip - is advertising; the rest are place signs, not advertising. The difference between billboards and place signs is crucial. The first and most obvious difference: place signs are about the place they adorn. They refer to themselves or to the building that they are on. The best ones, such as the Hollywood sign (which started its life as a billboard for “Hollywoodland” but now designates the place both physically and culturally), are landmarks, helping us get around the city and understand where we are. Billboard advertising is just the opposite. It is placeless; it disorients. There is no connection to what is advertised and where the billboard is located. Billboards make us lose our way in the city as the same product is advertised all over."
Advocates of advertising's removal from public space do not wish for an austere environment, free from anything but boring brick walls and sheer facades. In fact the opposite is often true. It is the selfish nature of advertising's use of public space that is at the heart of our complaint. Instead we advocate the removal of the selfish with replacement by the personal, individual, and inherently altruistic acts of peoples invested in their space for reasons other than profit. Personal interaction with public space often leads to moments of grand visual elegance, teeming with life affirming qualities that stand out against the background of the city. Unlike a billboard whose advertising content we shrink away from, public use of public space is revelatory and engrossing.

The above image by WK Interact once created a physical place in the city that truly inspired me. It was replaced some years after its creation by an advertisement and the entire corner lost it's identity.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Illegal Billboards In Brooklyn


I try to keep my illegal billboard tracking to the illegal billboards site, but this one just pissed me off.

I know Bedford Avenue is a trendy little gentrified spot these days that I might have even helped contribute to in some small way. I also know a lot of very amazing locals who continue to live there and care about the neighborhood. Like many Brooklyn areas, Williamsburg has long been overlooked by aggressive outdoor advertising. I'm sure this is due to pedestrian and motor vehicle traffic calculations. With the addition of this new sign, its clear that the industry has decided that has changed.

Did the landlord really think no one would check to see if this neighborhood altering sign was permitted, given it stands out like a sore thumb in an area for the most part free of vinyl signage? If so he was wrong because illegal billboards happened to walk up that street today. [post]

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Nevada vegetative billboard proposal shot down

The uncanny things that advertising companies will do to work their way around the law and provide viewers with unwanted content is just amazing.

VIA Scenic America

A proposal by the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT) to allow "vegetative" billboards and commercial displays at interchanges on Nevada's highways has been rejected by the federal government.

The plan, which agitated some Nevada officials after they first learned about it in media reports, rather than from NDOT, was similar to a proposal in California to allow advertisers to craft billboards made out of flowers and other vegetation on the public right-of-way itself, a move that would have required the waiver of several statutes and regulations governing signage and commercialization on federal roads.

Scenic America was a vocal opponent of the proposal and had communicated its position to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation and other public officials. In a letter to Scenic America President Kevin Fry, FHWA official Regin McElroy wrote, "based on further consideration of all the factors relevant to the proposal, we have decided not to proceed with it."

Although the plan had been given preliminary support by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) during the waning days of the Bush administration, federal officials apparently reconsidered the implications for the integrity of the federal highway system and the effect the proposal would have had on several long-standing laws that would have been undermined.

"We are relieved and grateful that FHWA has made the right decision and rejected this proposal," said Fry. "We hope Nevada and other states will first consider the safety of the motoring public, the aesthetics of their roadways, and the dangers of undermining the basic principles that have guided federal highway policy for over fifty years, before considering proposals like this in the future."

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Shepard Fairey Does Boston

I'm pretty sure these are being done legally, especially since Shep was arrested in Boston not too long ago on the night of his opening at the ICA. Either way his work is beautiful and provides a wonderful contrast to the advertising seen in some of these images.

VIA Juxtapoz

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

MTV News Coverage of

It seems like this issue gains more momentum every morning I wake up. Proof positive of this is a segment on Rami Tabello of, aired on MTV. If spreading the word and winning the battle over public opinion is what this is all about, I think we might just be headed in the right direction.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, February 2, 2009

New York Sign Company Breaks Philadelphia's Laws

SCRUB is a public voice for public space in Philadelphia. Much like the Municipal Art Society in New York, they lobby and protest illegal usage of public space and deter companies attempting to take advantage of a relatively unaware public.


Philadelphia - On Tuesday February 3rd, at 9:30 AM, a New York City billboard company, FUEL Outdoor, will ask Philadelphia's Zoning Board of Adjustments to grant a variance legalizing two outdoor advertising signs located at 339 North Broad Street. The signs violate several provisions of Philadelphia's laws regulating signage and are located near residences. Even more importantly, SCRUB anticipates that FUEL Outdoor will use this case as an attempt to eviscerate Philadelphia's Zoning code's sign controls.
SCRUB's preliminary survey of signage installed by FUEL Outdoor in Philadelphia revealed that the 339 North Broad Street signs are among 92 illegal signs installed in 48 locations around the City. See the results of our survey and interactive map.

FUEL on Spring Garden

An example of FUEL's illegal signs. This one is located at 301 Spring Garden Street.

FUEL Outdoor's small billboards are similar in size to the infamous "eight-sheet" billboards plastered on corner stores and vacant buildings around Philadelphia neighborhoods for over two decades until 2007, when 958 eight-sheet signs were finally removed.

FUEL's signs are slightly smaller than the "eight sheet" billboards removed in 2007...but just as illegal.
Like the eight-sheets, FUEL Outdoor's sign structures are erected without pemits and are installed in places where outdoor advertising is prohibited by the Zoning Code. The signs are bolted onto walls or free-standing poles.

FUEL Outdoor merged with MetroLights and the company gained national attention when they filed a federal lawsuit in Los Angeles in response to a ban placed on the construction of new billboards. Metrolights (now FUEL) challenged the constitutionality of LA's sign laws.
Just recently, however, the Ninth Circuit Court has ruled in favor of Los Angeles, serving a crushing blow to FUEL which had won previous lower court decisions. FUEL has filed a similar lawsuit in New York City. The lawsuit challenged the validity of sign regulations.
Mary Tracy, executive director of SCRUB, expects that FUEL Outdoor will attempt a similar legal strategy here in Philadelpha. She is confident that the City's laws would prevail. "We anticipate that the Nutter Administration will not cower to bullying tactics employed by FUEL and any other renegade sign company that disrepects the rule of law."

SCRUB's legal counsel will be representing the affected community group and adjacent neighbors at the Zoning Board, urging Board members to deny the request.
Concerned about illegal FUEL signs in your neighborhood? Feel free to attend the hearing or contact SCRUB for assistance.

Zoning Board of Adjustment
Tuesday February 3, 2009 9:30 AM
1515 Arch Street 18th Floor

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