Saturday, February 27, 2010

Unwelcome Mats And Other CityEvention Campaigns

Remember these stupid door mats for Direct TV? They appeared about a year ago for a guerrilla marketing campaign and we never found out the responsible party. Just yesterday a reader sent us a few links about another "street mat" campaign that appeared recently on the upper west side of Manhattan.

In fact one of the links was to a New York Times article about the illegal advertisements. In the article Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority said

"It was “an unauthorized ad,” he said, adding that another had been placed outside an entrance to the station at 79th Street and Broadway. Transit officials “reached out to the Beacon Theater” with a request to remove them, he said, although he said it was not clear whether “we took them out ourselves, or they did.”

So who was responsible for the safety liabilities? Well the reader who contacted us had found that on the CityEventions twitter page they remark "Our Banana Shpeel decals get a NY Times mention." This is funny cause they are coy about the whole thing on the CityEventions Facebook page where they seem not to know the culprit "The Upper West Side now OFFICIALLY welcomes Banana Shpeel.. awesome decal. I wonder who put it there...?"

These tactics seemed reminiscent of another outdoor advertising company we take issue with in New York, City Outdoor, which is actually NPA City Outdoor. Sure enough on the CityEventions Facebook page they draw a connection when they talk about the "Love it or Hate it Campaign."

"This campaign was run for City USA this past summer. It showcases how City Eventions is able to team with City Outdoor and other City USA constituents, to pull off a killer campaign that integrates traditional and non-traditional advertising"

We then went to the CityEventions website and even more insanity popped up. Apparently they are responsible for a recent dye-cut cutout campaign for Do Denim. These life sized busts were simply strewn around the city, attached to construction awnings for passersby to run into. As we are faced with yet another guerrilla marketing campaign that is little more than abusive street art, the question of why we allow this type of corporate behavior and yet criminalize street art and graffiti resounds in my head. This question is particularly perplexing when you think that policing this corporate graffiti should take nothing more than a phone call to the offending company.

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Monday, February 15, 2010

Comment Response to The Hunter

As the PublicAdCampaign project is really about opening up a dialogue on what a more socially productive public space might look like, we often enjoy answering reader comments as full on posts. The Hunter asked us to qualify one of our answers to the question, "What does the term ‘public space’ mean to you? Who has the right to public space? Is street art a way of reclaiming public space?" He writes...

"Curious as to an addendum to the final question: Where is your line drawn between private property and public space? If I own a building and want to paint it my own color, do you feel you have the right to paint over it as a reclamation of public space? You've always left me a little fuzzy on where the line is drawn. Thanks."

If Anything, I might be a bit "fuzzy" on this myself and the PublicAdCampaign project might simply be about testing where the line is drawn between private property and public space? Should the public be allowed to treat all the walls that face the street, all those vistas from the street onto private property as their own, like graffiti seems to? Should OAC's be given free reign to do what they want, demanding free speech rights, and go unregulated by the city? Should property owners be allowed to consider the outside of their buildings which face the public environment as private property in the same way they do their living rooms? The answers to these questions are important in that they constitute how we use and develop the places in which we interact as a community and therefore create our common society.

One thing I do believe is that allowing the public individual a certain level of curational responsibility without criminal consequence is an important part of a healthy public space. As I have said before I believe it engenders a sense of personal responsibility for public space that creates a more invested and concerned public citizen. For example I believe street art production should be a legal practice and the artists should have free reign of the public environment. I know this is a slippery slope but I rely on the artists interest in creating a healthy public space to determine how far they will go in claiming their fair share of our public environment.

One thing I have come to believe very earnestly is that outdoor advertising, through its monopolizing of the public environment in a quest to control public thought, silences public dialogue and therefore is incompatible with a healthy public space. A new paint job on the side of a building might deserve to be left alone while a 5 story advertisement must be aggressively reworked as it presents an obstacle to community and neighborhood development.

As for the case with The Hunter's building paint job, I think some distinctions need to be made which help answer that question. First the neighborhood in which this building is being painted must be taken into account. Modern buildings, often in business districts where the architecture imposes its own visual order, are hard places to consider ripe for public participation. The all glass sides of the IAC Gehry Building in Chelsea don't beg for an artists helping hand. Indeed it would seem that this is in some way responsible for the sterility of these spaces and why people are less inclined to consider them neighborhoods with a valued community. The possibility of public interaction here seems to determine a level of community.

If this hypothetical building is being painted on the Lower East Side of Manhattan where a rich history of public participation is a part of the community, one would treat this newly painted surface differently. I would lean towards saying that the public should be allowed to use this newly painted surface as it sees fit, embellishing it or simply commenting on the horrendous color the property owner has painted his building and what an incredible eyesore had been created. In a community in which public dialogue is part of the neighborhood discourse, this sort of expressive property disobedience only knits the community together more tightly if dealt with in a thoughtful manner. The consequences of these types of interventions are not without problems I know but the benefits I believe outweigh the detriments.

On my recent trip to LA, I stopped by the Philip Lumbang mural in Silver Lake to get a better idea of the situation for myself. Here a resident had commissioned the work of Mr. Lumbang which was largely revered by the community except for one individual. Having only what the internet was telling me about the skirmish between neighborhood residents and the resulting removal by Los Angeles impending, I favored this murals continued existence. I was at least upset that the city would force the result of this conversation through bureaucracy instead of allowing the community come to the decision on its own, fostering local communication.

As I drove to the quiet street upon which this mural was located, I must say my mind began to change. This was a much quieter neighborhood than I had imagined and the pre-school which apparently loved this mural didn't seem to be within walking distance, and if it was it didn't seem like the young ones were passing it daily. I myself liked the mural but could see how one resident might consider it out of place, although not "ghetto" as he has called it. To my delight, as Philip was being interviewed for Fox news, the resident that had complained, who had remained anonymous until then, suddenly appeared from his house, directly across the street from this mural!

Fox news approached the man for comment. He wore a t-shirt that read something about anarchy and held a cup of tea in a Sex Pistols mug. He explained that he had moved to the quiet street to remove himself from the noise on the more traveled areas surrounding the neighborhood. He complained that the mural was obnoxious and that he was not consulted on how it would affect his experience of the neighborhood. These were all reasonable claims despite the fact that the mural was of cute smiling animals. I thought to myself how he would have reacted if the wall had simply been painted a bright red or blue and I came to the conclusion that his reaction would have been similar.

So this leads us back to The Hunter's question of how we should treat property rights for those spaces which have a direct effect on other people. It would seem that this upset resident should have recourse against this mural or the less obvious aggressive color choice possibility. In this quiet, almost suburban neighborhood, I would tend to think that this recourse should come in the form of conversation, hopefully resulting in some mutual agreement between neighbors. Ideally this results in the two people becoming closer through the experience and binding the community together in mutual respect. If conversation does not do away with the problem I would lean towards some type of direct action, although the neighbor must then be responsible for the ire of the community if he destroys something beloved by many.

I know this has not fully answered the question but I think understanding that rigid concepts of property rights in situations which affect the public must be negotiable. Because property owners can rely on a strong tradition in our capitalist system of upholding their rights above the public's right when dealing with private property which affects us all, direct action answers are sometimes necessary to push the public's agenda. I do not promote wanton reclamation of private property just for the sake of it, but I do believe it should be an acceptable manner of disobedience in many cases.

There is a reason my personal work happens over outdoor advertising. I have made a conscious decision that the detrimental affects of outdoor advertising on public warrant my breaking the law in order to promote a discussion about advertising's' placement in our public spaces. I do not hit building facades and other private property because I do not feel a strong enough motivation to alter those spaces. Many street artists' interventions are placed in remote areas, hidden moments in the city, where the conflict of interest between the property owner and the artist is not an issue. This is done out of an inherent respect on the part of the artists for the sanctity of private property and allows street artists to continue working without pissing off the public.

As a study, The Hunter's question is interesting to think about, but whether or not we would see a public outcry or even need to use this newly painted wall is another story. It would seem that opening up public participation in the production of our shared environments would open the gates to a torrent of unwanted activity but I do not believe this to be the case. As a society I believe we have a vested interest in promoting certain private property norms and that given the opportunity we will not alter then as heavily as one would expect.

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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Reader Post Comment Response or Why Advertising And Public Space Are Inherently At Odds With One Another

A PublicAdCampaign reader named Dennis made a wonderful comment regarding the Philip Lumbang cuddly bear disaster in LA and I wanted to respond. He writes...
"The bloggers and commenters shaking their heads over this story need to look beyond the obvious. This kind of situation was created by our friends in the outdoor advertising industry who have used every legal tactic to destroy the ability of cities to control billboards, supergraphic signs, and other conveyances of outdoor advertising. In a nutshell, they have argued in court that the city is guilty of unconstitutional discrimination if it treats a fine-art mural differently than a supergraphic sign. In other words, if it permits a mural on a wall, it can't prohibit a sign for Nike or McDonald's across the street. There is ongoing litigation about this, but as of now the city jeopardizes its sign regulations if it issues permits for murals, or fails to act on complaints about unpermitted murals.
Dennis makes an incredibly important point here which speaks to the fact that outdoor advertising and a healthy public space are two incompatible ideas. Advertising by its very nature must control public space, dominate it, in order to have the most influence over public thought in order to push commercial consumption. This control is not only seen in outdoor advertising language which often describes its presence as dominating, but also in its legal tactics which attempt to strip the city of its ability to protect itself from advertising's ravaging behavior. (as evidenced by Dennis' comment)

What is sacrificed in the wake of advertising's constant land grab and volatile tactics, is the public's ability to use its own judgment on how to curate our shared environments. If the permit issue was not at hand in this current LA mural atrocity, the issue of whether or not to let this mural stay up would be decided by a neighborhood board. The single resident that is taking issue with the mural, calling it "ghetto," would be out voted by the many residents who love the mural and it would be allowed to stay. The public ultimately should be responsible for the curation of our shared spaces and the fact that the city must enforce rulings which do not agree with public sentiment is the horrendous result of how advertising alters and controls our public spaces for the worst.

For this reason, outdoor advertising must not be allowed in public space. A good example of this is a story I come back to routinely. One of the problematic things that outdoor advertising does to our environment is that it assigns a monetary value to public walls, or rather private walls that face the public and therefore have a direct affect on public consciousness. Without a monetary value, public walls can be used for a myriad of things, the value of which is determined by the benefit that use brings to the property owner and the community as a whole.

Take for example a typical corner deli in New York City with an entrance on one side and a blank wall on the other. Now imagine this deli is in close proximity to a public school. This school might ask the deli owner or landlord to use the blank wall for a mural made by the students of one of the classes. Without monetary value, the landlord would be inclined to say yes, knowing that the mural will not only benefit the students, giving them a sense of self worth and physical investment in the neighborhood, but also attract the approval of the community which will then patronize the store.

A moral obstacle arises once this public wall has monetary value. The landlord or deli owner must now decide between receiving a small paycheck for the rental of this public wall, versus the benefits it might have for the community at large. I don't believe we can expect people to disregard the inherent value ascribed by outdoor advertising firms to public space. This would be expecting a self sacrifice for the greater good that simply does not agree with our ego centric capitalist societal values. The answer then is to simply eliminate the motivation to strip our communities of a valuable resource, public space, by preventing outdoor advertising from prescribing monetary value to our shared environment.

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Gran via XXX-New Madrid Cross Out Campaign

I was just emailed a tip that a second huge cross out campaign was done in Madrid, this time taking place over street furniture advertising locations. Upon further inquiry, the person who got in touch would only tell me that an "active group of urban artists from Madrid" had done this, and that they wanted to take no responsibility. At least that is the way it came off in translation. Check out the full set of images, and see the related first action which took place over billboards in June.

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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.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Times Square Subway Advertising Projection Screen

This image was sent to me by a PublicAdCampaign reader yesterday and was taken in the NYC subway system. In a continued effort to finance our ailing MTA we are forced to consume more and more advertising. According to the reader, this projection is the size of a small movie screen and the washed out quality you see above is actually how the image looked in real life. The MTA, operating on a budget that would dwarf many US city budgets, will have to occupy every space we have with advertising to even begin to put a dent in our public transportation operating costs. If this is the case, are we willing as a public to allow every inch of our public transportation system to be covered in commercial messages? And if we are unwilling to let the proliferation of such media fully takeover, why allow these singular examples when we know they will not put a dent in the financial troubles of our beloved MTA?

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Najung Kim Works Over Advertising Too

A while back we were sent an image of a phone kiosk takeover done by an unknown artist. We posted it in hopes of finding out who was responsible for the fantastic work. Sure enough a few months later Najung Kim contacted us claiming responsibility. I love the fact that she uses her real name and that the image was part of a series done for James Victore's Urban Studio class at SVA. Visit Najung's site for more ad takeover images.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wildposting's Been Operating Longer Than I Thought

A good friend and PublicAdCampaign reader, Elizabeth Carey Smith, sent me this image taken from Ellen Lupton's "Thinking with Type". According to Elizabeth, the caption for the picture reads...
"Lithographic trade card, 1878. The rise of advertising in the nineteenth century stimulated demand for large-scale letters that could command attention in urban space. Here, a man is shown posting a bill in flagrant disregard for the law, while a police officer approaches from around the corner."
It's interesting to know that illegal posting of bills, or Wildposting as we now call it, was illegal in 1878. I'm not so sure this has remained true the entire time since, but I can tell you Wildposting in NYC is completely illegal today. In fact, about 3 hrs ago I saw two construction workers on 17th street between 8th and 9th avenues laboriously removing illegal Wildposting from and area approximately 200' long by 10' tall. They did so by wetting down the illegal ad, waiting till the water soaked through, and then scrapping at them with a putty knife. From what I could tell in the 5 minutes I watched them work, this process would take at least the entire day.

Why were they doing this you ask? Because in our insane system, when you call in this type of illegal advertising to 311, the building owner is the one who receives the $10,000.00 fine. This I have been told is largely because the city is unable to positively identify the company who is sneaking around the city at night illegally posting these advertisements and therefor the building owner must be held responsible for the conditions of his property. In yet another bizarre loophole that keeps our city riddled with unwanted commercial messages, the companies who are being advertised are not responsible for the damage either. Again this is all because for some reason we can't figure out if the companies had full knowledge that the advertising they were paying for would be used in this illegal manner.

Excuse my language, but give me a fucking break. One only knows how many Wildposting companies operated back in 1878, but today I can tell you the one that rules NY with an iron fist, as well as most of the major cities around the United States, including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, and Washington D.C., is NPA City Outdoor. In fact they own the copyright on the term Wildposting, which is odd because as far as I know you can't copyright something illegal. In fact this company openly admits that they offer citywide domination through Wildposting on their website...
"Available in the top 25 markets from coast to coast, nothing lets you dominate a space more quickly, or more efficiently, than our WILDPOSTINGSM Outdoor Advertising Programs. We offer high profile locations - with the greatest of visual impact. Because of this, big name advertisers are now using WILDPOSTINGSM not as a sideshow but as an integral part of their multimedia campaigns.
Firs of all, who said you could "dominate" our public space? As this situation is infuriating to many people living in New York City, PublicAdCampaign has made it a mission to deal with this problem. This has included laboriously cataloging and photographing 189 illegal NPA Wildposting locations around the city and sending this information to the DOB sign enforcement unit, as well as direct action projects to take back those spaces, if not briefly, for public use. The former resulted in no response, despite having a personal relationship with important people in this department, while the later has resulted in a total of 9 arrests of our friends and colleagues.

The result? A total disregard for our public space causing building owners to incur unnecessary fines and require them to pay for countless days of work to remove these illegal commercial messages. On top of this, the tax payer has had to foot the bill for the arrest, processing, detainment, arraignment, and judgment of nine individuals intent on helping the city become aware of this problem. With no one else to blame but NPA City Outdoor, isn't it time the city stop footing the bill for its illegal advertising problem and go after the company we all know is responsible?

More to come as the fight to regain control of our public space continues...

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Colby Is An Old Friend, And A Wise Friend

i think youll like this. i was just listening to some joseph campbell:

joseph campbell: now i just want to speak about the phases in the development of any mythology; how does it start and what happens to it. i think one can say this. that all of the high culchus, and low culchus, and primitive culchus, and charming, simple culchus, and great big enormous ones, have grown out of myths. they are founded on myths. and what these myths have given, has been inspiration, for aspiration.

the economic interpretation of history is for the birds.

economics is itself is a function of aspiration. it's what people aspire to that creates the field in which economics works. and people who dont have any aspirations - you know - the problem of a businessman who cant get people to want anything.

it's the want. it's the aspiration. and what is wanted is not simply one, two, or three meals a day and a bed. that's not enough. it's gotta be much more than that, to make a life. now where do these aspirations come from? they come from a very wonderful, childlike thing. fascination.

...these fascinations are the creation of new activities.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vancouver Public Space Network

The Vancouver Public Space Network is yet another example of the many progressive Canadian public space activist projects going strong these days. A PublicAdCampaign reader brought VPSN to my attention and that their new magazine PubliCity was published with a map of all the non-compliant billboards in Vancouver. The manifesto is interesting to me in that they combine all sorts of public space activism with a strong influence on outdoor advertising creep.

The VPSN is a grassroots collective that engages in advocacy, outreach and education on public space issues in and around Vancouver, British Columbia.
This includes challenging the increase of advertising ‘creep’ in public places, promoting creative, community-friendly urban design, monitoring private security activities in the downtown core, fostering public dialogue and democratic debate, and devising creative ways to re-green the neglected corners, alleys and forgotten spaces of the city.

We also like to devise ways to have fun in public space. The Vancouver Public Space Network (VPSN) was formed in early 2006. Since that time our numbers have grown from a dozen initial participants to over 1500 members. The Network continues to expand: a testament to the large number of individuals who value public space and view it as an essential feature of a vibrant, inclusive city.

Members are drawn together by both a shared concern for various issues facing public spaces and public realm amenities in Vancouver, as well as a desire to celebrate the role that public space in shaping the city.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

French Activists In Montauban Fight The Encroachment Of Illegal Advertising

I was just emailed by an activist in France that was curious about the four states in our country that have banned outdoor advertising on their highways. His city of Montauban has been fighting, and winning, the battle against the encroachment of illegal advertising for some time now. Remember you are not alone in this battle and that the world as a whole is making this a contemporary social issue. Below is his email, as it contains some interesting information.

Hello Jordan, A question the 4 states where publicity is not allowed in the US really apply the law? (Hawai, Alsaka, Oregon and Maine ) I am English and I live in Montauban in S W France.(for over 25 years now)..a town (like many other french towns) which has its entry roads ruined by excessive publicity are a few photos attached of our cover up campaign (started in 2005) which has seen us organize 25 cover up days .Around 25 people participate each time...we've had a few threats from some local billboard firms and a massive support from the general population + tens of articles in the press and 5 regional television reports....the town has now passed a local by-law which will remove all the billboards from roundabouts and junctions and halve the size of shop signs...all the best Tony Smith local correspondent for Paysages de France (French association that fights visual pollution)

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

PublicAdCampaign In PubliPhobe Newsletter

I was just made aware of a newsletter put out under the name publiphobe by a wonderful member of the debunkers collective in France. This man has been involved in 53 acts of civil disobedience associated with outdoor advertising in public space and has been arrested 38 times. That is insane. Glad to know him, and if I follow through with plans to go to Paris for my 30th birthday, I will meet them and tell you all how things go. Below is an excerpt from the newsletter and the translation below

The organization PublicAdCampaign - which apparently has existed for about five years - is led by Jordan Seiler, a New York artist. Its goal is to protest against the invasion of public space and mass transport by advertising and the influence of private interest on the mind. The methods used are similar to those in France: painting over, covering billboards with personal artwork, identifying illegal billboards… Like in France, Jordan and his friends come up against, at best, the inertia of public officials, or, at worst, repression (arrest, preventive detention, etc.). A french anti-advertising activist met Jordan during the summer 2009. The transatlantic connection is thus established.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

NY Ghost: How to Bake A Brownie

Yet another NY Ghost phone kiosk install is put up on the streets of NY, this time providing much needed information on how to bake a brownie. Wonder if it was intentional that this piece followed the one on how to smoke marijuana.

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Monday, October 5, 2009

Germany Knows Who Owns The Streets

Are we in the midst of some consumerist existential crisis? It seems like all over the world, artists and citizens are retaking the space once occupied by outdoor advertising and using it as a frame to project their own ideas onto the society in which they exist. Check this new project sent to me from Luna Park about a recent German ad takeover in Berlin. Thanks Luna!

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Illegal Billboards In The Annex-Toronto Outdoor Advertising Takeover

This takeover in Toronto was just sent to me by the Duspa Corner Collective. It is fantastic to see just how widespread the discontent is for illegal signage and the general disdain many people have for outdoor advertising in general. Congratulations to everyone involved in this project for a successful liberation and your use non-violent civil disobedience.

Toronto, October 3, 2009- The Dupsa Corner Collective (DCC) has
undertaken a public art project that has targeted fifteen illegal
billboards in the Annex early this morning. The timing of this project
has been chosen to correspond with the city of Toronto’s Sign By-Law
Project and Alternative Nuit Blanche activities.

The installations depict images of birds in flight. Through art we can
transform the often depressing, concrete cityscape to something
beautiful and wild. Furthermore, birds often symbolize freedom. The
DCC envisions neighbourhoods free from visual pollution, corporate
manipulation, and interests that aim to divide community through the
individualistic ritual of consumption.

In support of stronger billboard regulations and a more creative city,
the DCC aims to bring attention to the upcoming meetings between
members of Toronto’s By-Law project and the Planning and Growth
Management Committee.

Meetings originally scheduled for the week of October 5 have now been
moved to November 4. The Sign By-Law Team will be putting forward
proposals including a New Sign By-law, Third-Party Sign Tax, and ideas
for enforcement. Details of the report and project can be found on the
city of Toronto’s website at:

Public art tends to foster a greater respect, responsibility, and
pride for one’s community. Let us focus on strengthening community
bonds rather than allowing unbridled corporatism to divide our

The DCC’s billboard installations can be found both in the air and on
the ground.

The Dupont and Spadina Corner Collective
(647) 298-6785

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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

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Monday, September 28, 2009

The Greenwich Village Society For Historical Preservation

A good friend and reader of PublicAdCampaign recently made me aware of The Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation which has been taking action against illegal signage with much recent success. Their Mission states...
The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation was founded in 1980 to preserve the architectural heritage and cultural history of Greenwich Village, the East Village, and NoHo. GVSHP is a leader in protecting the sense of place and human scale that define the Village’s unique community.

Our programs include: Educational outreach in the form of public lectures, tours, exhibitions, and publications; A school program that teaches children about Greenwich Village history and architecture; Preservation leadership on such issues as preservation of the South Village; Preservation projects that promote an understanding of the Village’s historic importance, such as the Greenwich Village Preservation Archive and Oral History Project; Consultation services on a wide variety of preservation issues, with GVSHP serving the community as historian, educator, archival resource, and technical consultant.
I have contacted them in hopes our extensive maps of illegal NPA signage might be of use to them in their fight to retain neighborhood identity and hold off the encroachment of illegal signage and unwanted commercial messages.

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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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Monday, July 27, 2009

Reader Runs Into Illegal Pearl Media Streetscape In Miami

One of our readers found this illegal Pearl Media streetscape down in Miami Florida. He did a bit of research and found this company actually operates out of New York. Just like our old favorite, InWindow, Pearl Media seems to operate illegally as well. The fact of the matter is putting up advertising in empty storefronts is to temporary and fleeting to go through the laborious permitting process. By the time permits are acquired a storefront will have long been rented, making this business model impossible to run legally. The fact that businesses like Pearl Media, InWindow, or Application Unlimited exist at all highlights our cities' lack of enforcement as well as the disregard of outdoor advertising in general. I attached the reader’s email and images below. Thanks again.

I've never written you before, but I saw this on Miami Beach this weekend and thought you would enjoy it. It is a vinyl wrap on a vacant building down there for Ketel One. There was a citation for it already, but the city flat out told me that it was a company out of NYC called Pearl Media and they were already serving them court papers, good news. I also googled them, and found their website. Anyways, since it had fallen down I thought it was a good picture opportunity.

Keep up the good work,

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Belgium Wants Publicly Created Content Too

Charlie Todd of Urban Prankster sent me these images from Belgium. He knows how much I love seeing people all over the world reclaiming public space from the grip of commercial messages and outsider content.

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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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Thursday, June 11, 2009

NY Ghost-11th & 3rd Avenue NWC

The instructional video available on how to re-appropriate phone kiosks is pretty simple to follow. What doesn't come as easy is the will, and social deviance required to follow through with the act. But trust me it's a blast, and if done right, is a relatively risk free way to put your put your own ideas into a space over run with other peoples. The recently coined NY Ghost went out and did his first takeover May 28th. He has returned to 11th & 3rd avenue (NWC).

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In Response to a Letter-Why Mark Making In Public Is Important

Today I was responding to a reader in regards to the NYSAT project. I was explaining why I think public mark making is an important part of a healthy public space and therefore a social health issue. The explanation I thought was worth repeating.

We are not painting the walls of our city to beautify the streets so much as to interact with the space in which we live. Marking your environment attaches you to that space. By making a mark, you are representing yourself in that space. Through that self representation you become invested and responsible for the environment in which you, or rather the mark, or more importantly both, exist. By investing yourself in that space, your interest in the spaces outcome, or production, is heightened. You become a public defender because you realize you are the public. You embody that responsibility through the mark that you made, which is actually you.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Instructional Video First Responder

A while back someone had some questions regarding the phone kiosk instructional video. There is nothing that makes me happier than being able to facilitate someone's direct interaction with their public space. This is all the more exciting when that individual decides to do that interacting over public advertising. I think this is the first example of someone who put the instructional video to good use. Enjoy, I know I am. Now get that cheese.....

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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,

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Frequent Reader Questions

I just received this email and wanted wish the person who sent it luck. This is what PublicAdCampaign is ultimately about for me. Promoting and facilitating the public's interest and involvement in their public space. Though this happens through the use of outdoor advertising venues and frames, it is about enjoying the act of creation in our shared public spaces.
Hi Jordan, I am a frequent reader of public access campaign, and enjoy reading your posts

i recently watched your video about replacing the ads on the sides of phone booths, and am interested in trying it myself

i have a cordless drill, and am buying an tamper-proof bit set.

i have 2 questions,

1: do you know the size the ads are (for the sides), or should I just open one up myself and measure it to be sure

2: have you ever been arrested doing this? im trying to gauge the likelihood of this you think its smarter to do it in the dark, total stealth mode, or be in clear daylight posing as a van wagner should only take like 30 seconds from start to finish im hoping...i plan on doing this around the east village...
have you ever had any trouble with undercover officers or people on the street getting pissed and confronting you?

thanks for your help man,

This is My Responses:
Fantastic! You should absolutely try it yourself. It is a wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon becoming a more integral part of your city fabric. Please send me the results and I will post them immediately.

Answer 1:
The ads on the sides of NYC phone kiosks are 26'x50'. The ads on the back come in a few sizes depending on the type of kiosk they are in and should be measured accordingly. You can measure these without opening the kiosk, just add 1 inch to the length and height of the inside frame measurement.

Answer 2:
a) I have never been arrested doing advertising takeovers on the street. This does not mean it cannot, or will not happen. As you may or may not know, 4 people were arrested in the recent NYSAT project, although this was under special circumstances. When I have been stopped by NYPD, I have had to make an appearance before a judge. This appearance, all three times it has taken place, has resulted in 6 months of probation. Provided you are not caught committing similar acts within this 6 month period (which usually starts the day you were actually caught), your record is wiped clean.

b) The night or day question for me depends on one thing and that is whether or not the phone kiosk you are going to takeover is illuminated. You can obviously tell this easily at night, but if you are curious if a booth is illuminated during the day, simply cup your hands around your eyes and hold them tight to the kiosk. You will see the backliting this way, as the lights are not turned off or are on any sensor. If the booth is illuminated I would do your takeover during the day. Van Wagner and others do not, to my knowledge, replace ads during the night and an open illuminated kiosk is like a lighthouse, it can be seen for blocks. I have seen employees changing kiosk ads with and without safety vests so that choice is up to you. Provided the phonekiok is not illuminated, I would do things late at night.

c) Two of the Three times I have been stopped it was by undercover officers. Generally, people will pay little attention to what you are doing, unless you are removing a popular upcoming movie poster, in which case someone will probably ask you if they can have it.

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Friday, April 3, 2009

London cops reach new heights of anti-terror poster stupidity

A reader sent me the above image taken in Nottingham City, England. It's a very simple ad subversion that calls out what is obvious about this "state sponsored fear" campaign. Below is a post from Boing Boing explaining the campaign. Thanks Keane.

VIA Boing Boing

The London police have bested their own impressive record for insane and stupid anti-terrorism posters with a new range of signs advising Londoners to go through each others' trash-bins looking for "suspicious" chemical bottles, and to report on one another for "studying CCTV cameras."

It's hard to imagine a worse, more socially corrosive campaign. Telling people to rummage in one another's trash and report on anything they don't understand is a recipe for flooding the police with bad reports from ignorant people who end up bringing down anti-terror cops on their neighbors who keep tropical fish, paint in oils, are amateur chemists, or who just do something outside of the narrow experience of the least adventurous person on their street. Essentially, this redefines "suspicious" as anything outside of the direct experience of the most frightened, ignorant and foolish people in any neighborhood.

Even worse, though, is the idea that you should report your neighbors to the police for looking at the creepy surveillance technology around them. This is the first step in making it illegal to debate whether the surveillance state is a good or bad thing. It's the extension of the ridiculous airport rule that prohibits discussing the security measures ("Exactly how does 101 ml of liquid endanger a plane?"), conflating it with "making jokes about bombs."

The British authorities are bent on driving fear into the hearts of Britons: fear of terrorists, immigrants, pedophiles, children, knives... And once people are afraid enough, they'll write government a blank check to expand its authority without sense or limit.

What an embarrassment from the country whose level-headed response to the Blitz was "Keep Calm and Carry On" -- how has that sensible motto been replaced with "When in trouble or in doubt/Run in circles scream and shout"?

New campaign to urge Londoners to report suspicious activity

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