Category Archives: Reference Library

World’s Smallest Advert Subvert

Printable Cold Sores

With a half-inch sticker you can do so much. Thanks to the anonymous author of this project that popped up on the internet in the past few days.

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What advertisers pay to catch your wandering eye

From GOOD Magazine:

A great video version of an even better piece from Good Magazine. The video shows how much various advertising spaces cost. (And don’t forget, it’s all tax deductable as a business expense.) I picked up Good in a grocery store around New Years and was very impressed. The issue I have (#2) also has a respectable overview of “culture jamming” including a history and an introduction to some of the dominant forms.

Also note that subscriptions are only $20 and 100% goes to a charity organization you choose from a selection of 12.

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NY Times on Saturation Advertising

The New York Times has done a good overview on the desperate attempts of advertisers to “get over the clutter” resulting in a proliferation of advertising on every possible blank space in U.S. cities.

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Sáo Paulo Bans Outdoor Advertising in 2007

From last month’s New York Times and posted here in case it becomes difficult to access in the future. And a special note of hope to residents of the United States: as fantastic as a the Sáo Paulo ban sounds, remember that Vermont, Alaska, Hawaii, and Maine have all banned billboards in their state. There are various other advertising regulations in effect nationwide banning such things as alcohol advertising near schools. Regulating advertising (at any point along the spectrum) doesn’t just happen in exotic foreign countries.

Sáo Paulo Journal
Streets Are Paved With Neon’s Glare, and City Calls a Halt
Published: December 12, 2006

SÁO PAULO, Brazil – Imagine a modern metropolis with no outdoor advertising: no billboards, no flashing neon signs, no electronic panels with messages crawling along the bottom. Come the new year, this city of 11 million, overwhelmed by what the authorities call visual pollution, plans to press the “delete all” button and offer its residents an unimpeded view of their surroundings.

Buildings in the historic center of downtown Sáo Paulo are covered with billboards. They will be banned as of Jan. 1, when a city law takes effect. Read More »

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A Quick Guide to Ad-free Web Browsing

Sure, everyone is tired of flashing, jittery messages about credit scores or mortgage rates, but criticism of banner ads and other online advertising has almost become cliché. The backlash has resulted in every current browser offering a pop-up blocker. But it still seems almost impossible to use the web without becoming the collateral damage of an online advertiser trying to hit a target market.

Adblocking software takes the pop-up blocker to it’s next logical step and prevents advertising from being downloaded and displayed. In the place of that mortgage rate ad appears… nothing. A white rectangle where the ad once was. And it’s free. Don’t have adblocking software installed on your computer? Read more for a guide on recommended adblocking options for several browsers. Read More »

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Think Before You Pink

Pink ChapstickEvery October is “Breast Cancer Awareness Month” which brings with it the most prominent form of Cause Marketing. Cause marketing is when a corporation aligns itself with a charity and donates a portion of its profits to the cause. Not to be confused with corporate philanthropy, cause marketing is attached to a media campaign and sales of products, is not an outright gift, and is not tax-deductable.

Cause marketing, while undeniably raising thousands of dollars for many causes, is considered somewhat controversial for several reasons Read More »

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Ads on Barf Bags

Here at the Agency one of the things we keep tabs on is ad creep. Each year, ads creep further into our daily lives through public space, classrooms, bathrooms, and so on. Over time advertisers become more and more desperate to get our attention because their traditional methods don’t work, or don’t work well enough – for a variety of reasons – and the line of what is deemed acceptable space for advertising slowly moves.

In 2003, advertising on airplane tray tables was an outrageous news item. In 2006, the ads are creeping further. Recently US Airways announced it will be selling advertising space on it’s barf bags. (See the story below.)

On a related note, this week CBS announced it will be laser etching advertising on egg shells. Read More »

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Living Billboards

Living BillboardsThe Sacramento Bee has written a relatively fluffy piece on what are becoming known as “Human Billboards” or “Living Arrows”. These are the people at intersections paid to frantically wave signs around attracting attention to a mattress sale or condo development. As the Bee itself says:

“It’s a way for developers and business owners to get around regulations governing permanent and temporary signs — and it simply works.”

The Sacremento Bee requires a login to view the article. We recommend getting one from Bug Me Not instead.

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Article in Columbus Dispatch

Columbus Dispatch StoryThe Columbus Dispatch has a story on how ads are making their way into more and more public spaces in Ohio. The revitalization of the downtown has brought larger and more invasive displays of advertising – for example ads printed on parking lot stripes. The last paragraphs of the story include some comments from the AAA’s Steve Lambert.

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We just received a notice about this exhibition…

Neterotopia is an event that takes place from 16th to 31st March 2006 in various spaces on the Net. Eleven artists from different countries have been invited to choose an Internet site and use the spaces usually reserved for advertising. These spaces are thus transformed into exhibition surfaces and points of access to a pathway branching through the public and virtual space of the Internet, the major node of which is the website.

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From the New York Times

“I take five A.P. classes, and by far I do the most work for these newspaper stories,” said Allie O’Hora, another reporter. And what stories! Allie tracked down a sophomore boy who covered the bathrooms with graffiti, and turned her exclusive interview into another front-pager. (“It’s our community too,” the boy told her, “and we should have just as much say as to what goes on the walls as Pepsi and Gatorade do.”) link

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Wired News: Sony Graffiti

Sony Graf at Zeitgeist

From Wired News:

Seeking to market its handheld game device to hip city dwellers, Sony has hired graffiti artists in major urban areas to spray-paint buildings with simple, totemic images of kids playing with the gadget. But the guerrilla marketing gambit appears to be drawing scorn from some of the street-savvy hipsters it’s striving to win over.

Coming on the heels of widely publicized news that Sony music CDs infected customers’ computers with security-hole-inducing spyware, the campaign for the PlayStation Portable is being derided on the internet as an attempt to buy the credibility of street art.

Read More »

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The Bubble Project

Harts War

Designer Ji Lee’s Bubble Project is a set of stickers in the form of cartoon talk bubbles designed to “transform the corporate monologue into an open dialogue. The stickers encourage anyone to fill them in with any form of self-expression, free from censorship.” There is a manifesto and downloadable PDFs available on his site,

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Et Cetera

Finally, a company to keep track of product references in rap lyrics.
American Brandstand

Looking To Rent A Billboard?
You probably can’t afford it.

Celebrate Advertising Week New York City!
Public Relations even harder at work.

American Association of Advertising Agencies
We’re still waiting for our complimentary membership.

Outdoor Advertising Association of America
They’re so proud of themselves.

Outdoor Advertising Archive

See outdoor ads from the past.

This appears to be real. It also appears to demonstrate just how desperate advertising has become.

Barricades + Advertising = Barricads

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Starting Points for Ideas

We share the following questions which are a starting point for our ideas. Many of these questions we don’t have answers for. We would like to see work from artists that can inspire further critical thought by asking more questions and beginning to provide some well-developed answers.

  • Visual imagery is a language. What does the language of advertising communicate?
  • How has advertising impacted hip-hop in general, and graffiti in particular?
  • How have community-based art forms like murals, stencils and screen printing been affected by advertising?
  • How have alcohol and tobacco companies targeted advertising to different racial groups? What are the other ways that advertising affects these communities?
  • How does advertising affect gender roles? What are its impacts on women, body image and self-esteem? What are the different ways in which women of different races are affected? How are LGBTs affected by advertising?
  • What are the affects on men? Men of different races?
  • How are the identities of teenagers shaped by advertising and commercialization of public schools?
  • How does advertising affect working people, labor unions and perceptions of class?
  • How does advertising affect you personally? How does advertising impact your ideas of pleasure and desire?
  • How is the news media affected by advertising?
  • How is advertising tied to globalization or gentrification?
  • What would a city without advertising look like? How would it affect the economy?
  • What are the positive aspects of advertising?
  • How could advertising be reformed? Can advertising be reformed?
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