Just sent the following letter to the New York Times:
Peter Sherman of advertising firm BBDO was quoted in your story, “All you have to do is walk out the door for lunch and notice the number of vacant storefronts — and they tend to be in prime areas, in major thoroughfares, and they’re unused space — so why not get in there and put a message in there?”
I know why not, because it’s a crime! And I was disappointed that the Times didn’t mention this. Outdoor advertising is regulated by the Department of Buildings for several reasons; so billboards aren’t erected in dangerous places and ways, to regulate advertising to specific districts keeping the city livable, and to prevent persuasive messages from being placed anywhere and everywhere a corporation can buy space.
The Department of Buildings has strict regulations on size and these storefronts turned billboards are simply too large for nearly every commercial district in New York with the exception of Times Square.
The Times is mistaken in reporting on this as a “thriving” type of advertising emerging from declining economy. Call it what it is, advertisers desperate for profits, committing organized crime, and hurting the livability of our city.
New Yorkers who care should call these signs in to 311 and have them removed! Or just tear them down themselves.
Senior Fellow, Eyebeam Art and Technology Center
Founder, The Anti-Advertising Agency