Category Archives: News

On advertising / from a working library

Let’s pretend, for a moment, that the reading experience on the web is dependent upon an advertising economy, that there is no other model for supporting reading save the ever more noisome sale of cellulite creams and cell phones, that our ingenuity has been so fully drained we cannot envision any other scenario by which capitalism and reading could coexist.

read the rest: On advertising / from a working library.

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Unlogo back on Kickstarter

It’s back!

Friend of the AAA and occasional contributor to this site, Jeff Crouse, has a new project he’s trying to get some support for. Unlogo is a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from your personal media.

The AAA isn’t as flush with start-up funds as we used to be, so Jeff’s trying to get this project off the ground with pledges in any amount via Kickstarter. I know Jeff, I know he can pull this off, and I know he’s been going broke working on it. So if you can throw at least $2 his way please do.

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The Secret Lives of Big Pharma’s ‘Thought Leaders’ – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In the early 1970s, a group of medical researchers decided to study an unusual question. How would a medical audience respond to a lecture that was completely devoid of content, yet delivered with authority by a convincing phony? To find out, the authors hired a distinguished-looking actor and gave him the name Dr. Myron L. Fox. They fabricated an impressive CV for Dr. Fox and billed him as an expert in mathematics and human behavior. Finally, they provided him with a fake lecture composed largely of impressive-sounding gibberish, and had him deliver the lecture wearing a white coat to three medical audiences under the title “Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education.” At the end of the lecture, the audience members filled out a questionnaire.

The responses were overwhelmingly positive. The audience members described Dr. Fox as “extremely articulate” and “captivating.” One said he delivered “a very dramatic presentation.” After one lecture, 90 percent of the audience members said they had found the lecture by Dr. Fox “stimulating.” Over all, almost every member of every audience loved Dr. Fox’s lecture, despite the fact that, as the authors write, it was delivered by an actor “programmed to teach charismatically and nonsubstantively on a topic about which he knew nothing.”

via The Secret Lives of Big Pharma’s ‘Thought Leaders’ – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Thanks Paul S.

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American Films and Absurdist Film Fest

We’ve written about American Films before. They have a new video. Much like Warhol, except not as neat.

And they’re organizing an Absurdist Film Festival.  What’s not to like?

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OX in Vienna: The power of colors cannot be denied

OX in Vienna: The power of colors cannot be denied

French artist OX takes over Austrian billboards and shows his approach to the Austrian flag in form of a huge sausage on former advertising spaces.

via OX in Vienna: The power of colors cannot be denied.

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Invasion of the Boris Bikes « LRB blog

The invasion of the Boris bikes is complete. They stand on street corners, corralled like docile, futuristic horses in their blue harnesses. They’re good bikes – sturdy and solid – with a rather pleasing sit-up-and-beg riding position the better to survey the road around you. Undocking them is also quite fun, like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The name has become universal, which is only to be expected, launched as they were with all the pomp the bicycling mayor could muster. It’s not that we’ve forgotten that the bikes were originally Ken’s idea, but that Boris is a far more visible cyclist. The official name, ‘Barclays Cycle Hire’, was never going to take off, despite the lurid corporate livery.

Barclays have got a good deal from the £25 million they contributed to the £140 million scheme. As well as painting their company colours onto the streets, in the form of the pointless cyan-tarmac ‘cycle superhighways’ that run from the centre of London to various suburban hubs, they’ve also bedecked the machines with their logos.

How different from the first municipal bicycle scheme, conceived by the anarchist Provo movement in the Netherlands in the 1960s. The Provos proposed that central Amsterdam should be a car-free zone, and that the council should invest in 20,000 white bicycles that would be owned by the people and free for general use. The council rejected the plan but the Provos went ahead and bought 50 bikes which they released unlocked onto the streets, where they were promptly impounded by the police or stolen. (Some of their other schemes, like the one that urged drivers to ‘offset’ their carbon emissions by carrying small gardens around on the roofs of their cars, were delightfully Swiftian. Others were prescient: the Provos argued that prolific industrial polluters should be fined accordingly, and that the chimneys of the worst offenders should be painted white.)

Barclays’ flagrant appropriation of such a utopian idea was always going to cause tension, and the Boris bikes have become ripe targets for ‘subvertising’. ‘Situationist guerrilla teams’ have been doctoring the broadside ad space over the back wheel.

The Vélib’ scheme, the Parisian equivalent of the Boris Bikes, and the largest and longest running communal bicycle scheme around, has shown that regular investment is a necessary to maintain a fleet like this. A number of the French bikes are dredged from the Seine every month. Others are hung on trees like Christmas decorations, or ridden down stairs until they shake themselves to bits. One even turned up in Australia.

Barclays probably doesn’t give much of a shit about you, but if the bikes are going to continue to be useful then ongoing investment is a must. It’s unlikely that the money will be forthcoming from Boris.

via Invasion of the Boris Bikes « LRB blog. (thanks Mandiberg)

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Support Jordan at Public Ad Campaign

Jordan Seiler has been fighting hard to make our streets more livable and interesting. I would easily attribute his hard work to the creation of this competition and this substantial change at the New York Department of Buildings – enforcing the removal of illegal advertising on construction sites and placing art there instead. Now we have a chance to support him and say thanks for his hard work. Vote for Jordan’s design in the Urban Canvas Design Competition!  He deserves the victory and the prize money will go towards a better city. –Steve

From Jordan’s site:

Please Vote-Urban Canvas Design Competition

I was just selected as a finalist for the Urban Canvas Design Competition. The 4 winners are decided by vote and I need your help! Please cast your vote here. Your vote will help us to continue providing large scale public projects and critical investigations of how to best serve our collective interests in public space.

“While beneath the scaffold and mesh covering, architecture in New York City loses nuance to the rigid rectangular forms of construction. Through repeated woven patterns and perspective shifts the ordinary rectangle becomes an extraordinary tool with which to contemplate the surfaces of our city.”

A little history…

A while back PublicAdCampaign ran a project called NYSAT. Organizing the efforts of nearly a hundred artists, activists, and citizens, we reclaimed nearly 20,000 square feet of illegal outdoor advertising space run by a company called National Promotions of America. They also happened to be the same company illegally Wildposting construction sheds all over New York City. The unauthorized civil disobedience was definitely noticed by the DOB, and although a positive connection was never fully acknowledged, action was taken against this company swiftly after the project. The result was the removal of many of the illegal street level billboards as well as the end of large scale Wildposting in NYC. It seemed in some way we had won.
This left many of the construction sheds around the city empty, a bare blue surface begging for public interaction. Not more than a few months after the Wildposting stopped I received an email from within the DOB telling me about the Urban Canvas Design competition. It seemed that the city had taken steps to insure that the bare blue walls would come alive in the future. In fact, all of the construction safety structures would come alive, insuring that Wildposting would not continue and public art would take its rightful place. For me personally it also proved that direct action projects like NYSAT can have a serious affect on the quality of our shared spaces.
With that said, out of the 8 finalists, 4 will be selected by the public. Each of these individuals will receive $7,500 as an award. While this is not an immense amount of money, to a grassroots project like PublicAdCampaign it is a huge boost to our funding (of which there is none). This award would help us in numerous ways but probably most fitting, it would help us bring a project similar to NYSAT to yet another city. And if NYSAT was in any way responsible, however slightly, for the Design Competitions creation, the awards use for yet another civil disobedience project seems only too fitting.

A little about the design…

While I walked around NY looking at construction shed after construction shed, trying to pull inspiration out of the myriad configurations they took, I noticed again how ubiquitous they are around our city. I racked my brain for colors and pattern, complexity and simplicity, trying to envision my thoughts translated onto these surfaces. Many designs came to mind and over and over again I asked myself if I liked the design, but also how its repetition throughout the city might affect my continued appreciation of it. I thought to myself could I look at that everyday and possibly at many different locations? Many of the designs did not stand up to this criteria and in the end more complex patterns, arrangements of color fell to the side in favor of the simple black and white woven pattern I have been working with for the past few years in my public work. The pattern would transform the rigid structure of the architecture beneath, but allow the viewer to let it go relatively unnoticed if desired.
While I have been known to try to change my imagery often in order to remained un-branded as an artist and therefor escape criticism that I use the streets and advertising venues as advertising for myself, the woven pattern has continued in my work for a reasonable amount of time now. I promise that I will change this soon. Even as I write this I am working on a show for the Vincent Michael gallery which I promise will begin a departure from this simple, albeit affective design element.
DOB announcement PDF.
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On Corporate Graffiti – via Urban Prankster

We’ve covered the New York Street Advertising Takeover quite a few times on this site, but we wanted to share this new short documentary by Sarah Berman. It does a great job of telling the story of the project and the positive impact it had on our streets.

In related news, the first Toronto Street Advertising Takeover recently took place.

via On Corporate Graffiti « Urban Prankster.

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Support Unlogo, a Corporate Identity Media Filter

Friend of the AAA and occasional contributor to this site, Jeff Crouse, has a new project he’s trying to get some support for.  Unlogo is a web service that eliminates logos and other corporate signage from your personal media.

note: filtered videos are not watermarked with the unlogo "logo". That would be ridiculous.

From Jeff:

On a practical level, it takes back your personal media from the corporations and advertisers. On a technical level, it is a really cool combination of some brand new OpenCV functionality and some brand new FFMPEG functionality. On a poetic level, it is a tool for focusing on what is important in the record of your life rather than the ubiquitous messages that advertisers want you to focus on.

The AAA isn’t as flush with start-up funds as we used to be, so Jeff’s trying to get this project off the ground with pledges in any amount via Kickstarter. I know Jeff, I know he can pull this off, and I know he’s been going broke working on it. So if you can throw at least $2 his way please do.

Please help support Unlogo by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign!

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Billboard in Japan Can Determine Your Age and Gender, Recommend Soft Drink Based on Profile

Post from SlashGear

It seems that Japan is taking these interactive billboards seriously. When the idea was first postulated, it seemed that only vending machines would be getting the makeover, and the interactiveness would be limited to simply getting directions and picking your favorite drink. But, now a 47-inch (the vending machines were “only” 46-inches) billboard in Shinagawa is showing us that the future is indeed already here.

As with many other demonstrations of technology and future tech, the movie Minority Report generally gets brought up. There was not only a lot of technology in that movie, most of it set in the future, but it showed what it may look like in the “real world,” as opposed to being completely ridiculous. We’ve already seen some aspects of the movie come to life, and now it seems that intelligent billboards is the next logical step. Researchers managed to team up and create a 47-inch billboard that utilizes not only a camera, but also sensors to judge a person that stands in front of it.

The camera and sensors then work together to formulate your profile: your age and gender, and then subsequently proffer you a soft drink, based on that profile. The General Manager of sales at an East Japan Railway subsidiary, Toshinari Sasagawa, said that now they can finally see what people are buying, all over the age range, instead of just making “educated guesses.” We’re not exactly sure that, say, a Coke is generally marginalized to one specific profile or age, but apparently that may be the case.

The 47-inch billboard will interact with you, based on your age and gender, too. And, considering it’s already making decisions simply based on your profile, we can see how this may become exactly like those Minority Report billboards, that recognize repeat customers, and start offering you what you may like, based on previous purchases. Doesn’t seem too far off, does it?

[SlashGear via Wall Street Journal]

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“But Advertising is Free Speech…”

“But Advertising is protected as Free Speech…” I hear this every once in a while. The problem is that advertising isn’t free speech, in more ways than one.

1. It’s far from free. You can go to any public place and say whatever you want. And anyone else can too. In the United States we’re pretty much covered on that. But you can’t advertise whatever you want in public space. Financially it’s out of reach. It takes an unreasonable amount of money to communicate your message through advertising that makes it inaccessible to all but a few citizens. Try to work outside the advertising spaces and you become a vandal. Ultimately, advertising is for private, business interests, not the public.

“But what if you can gather up the unreasonable amount of money?” you ask.

2. Even if you have the money, advertising spaces are not publicly accessible. The company has to approve your message. This gets all kinds of messed up. Here’s 3 quick examples:

a. In 2008, Suzanne Opton’s contract with a billboard company was canceled because the company didn’t want to display her portraits of active-duty soldiers. And she was ready to pay the $50,000 they agreed to in the contract.

b. Last year this WTF subway ad was rejected by the MTA because it conflicted with the MTAs interests:

Working Families Party Rejected Subway Ad

The ad is targeted toward transit riders and is in the general interest. It’s target is not the MTA as much as Mayor Bloomberg. Yet still, it was rejected.

c. While the MTA decided the above ad was not acceptable, just this week, in a controversial move, the MTA decided this ad is acceptable and it is running on trains now:

Ad Opposing Islamic Center

(Excuse the fact that I’m sidestepping the disgusting, semi-racist, anti-Islamic, pseudo logic in this ad because Jeffery Goldberg nailed it already and I’m trying to make a separate point.)

Private interests are making judgment calls on what falls under the 1st Amendment. It doesn’t matter what the courts would say when the gatekeepers to the discourse won’t supply access. While I find the above “Why There?” ad simple minded and counter-productive, it would be great if I could enter the dialogue on a level playing field – where I don’t have to have tens of thousands of dollars to buy in to the debate.

We can’t depend on businesses to uphold and defend our rights. Business argues that advertising is Free Speech protected by the Constitution so they can broadcast their message, but make no mistake, they’re not interested in the free speech, freedom of ideas, equal access, and open discussion and debate that culture and our democracy needs. They’re simply interested in getting their sales messages into your brain.

Here’s a thought from Paul Sachelari, Anti-Advertising Agency Legal Counsel:

Of course, the First Amendment, as any grade school kid will tell you, is the right to free speech enshrined in the Constitution. However, the right is not absolute, but rather elastic. It applies absolutely to some speech and less so to others. The most protected is political speech, while commercial speech requires much less deference.

What do you think?

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The Illusionists » Annals of Offensive Advertising: Nikon

“The Nikon S60. Detects up to 12 faces.” The campaign was produced by the ad agency Euro RSCG/Singapore.

via The Illusionists » Blog Archive » Annals of Offensive Advertising: Nikon.

Thanks C-Monster

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From the CDC: New Billboard Alterations Salute Israel Following Raid on Gaza Flotilla

From the CDC Press Release

The California Department of Corrections (CDC) has unveiled a new campaign of billboard alterations on behalf of the State of Israel.

On July 28, 2010 a total of nine billboards were apprehended, rehabilitated and discharged throughout San Francisco, including the intersection of Guerrero and 18th Street (see attached photo). Additional billboards were discharged into Polk Gulch, the Tenderloin, South of Market, the Mission, the Haight, Potrero Hill and Bay View/Hunters Point. The nine billboards represent the number of civilian fatalities incurred during Israel’s May 31st raid on a flotilla carrying supplies to Gaza.

The CDC released the billboards to highlight the two month anniversary of the raid. The billboards also cap the month of July which saw a White House reception for Israel’s Prime Minister followed by an Israeli military investigation of the May 31 incident. The White House visit reaffirmed America’s unbreakable bond with Israel, and the army investigation exonerated Israeli soldiers of any wrongdoing during the raid. As a compliment to these public relations activities, the CDC has contributed its specialized services to defend Israeli soldiers facing international scrutiny.

The CDC recognizes that our colleagues in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) may require additional support and financing as they expand Israeli jurisdiction into international waters. Annual US aid to Israel will increase to only $3.15 billion by 2013. Although our Israeli allies are thankful for such generosity, the CDC believes that America can do better. In order to encourage additional tax-supported financial donations for Israel, the CDC launched the “Blank Check” billboard campaign.

The corrected billboards read, “THANKS FOR THE BLANK CHECK, AMERICA,” featuring a US Treasury bank note for $7,000,000. The amount is a daily average of America’s $2.70 billion aid package for Israel in fiscal year 2010.

Reflecting Israel’s national colors, the blue and white billboards also include the following caption along with a discreet Israeli flag:

“In May 2010, Israel was attacked by an unarmed flotilla carrying humanitarian aid for Gaza. Decisive action by Israeli soldiers stopped this assault. Though only 9 people were killed and hundreds were detained, Israeli prestige came under fire. With your support, Israel can prevent future attacks. Our troops are waiting to execute anyone entering Gaza, but the cost of ammunition will strain daily U.S. aid of $7 million. Your additional tax dollars can overcome this challenge. Please contribute generously and help us bring peace to the Middle East.”

As a private correctional facility, the CDC recognizes the need for control and security in areas under Israeli jurisdiction. Therefore, the department salutes our Israeli colleagues in their efforts to maintain Gaza as the world’s largest open air correctional institution, exposing Palestinians to the safety, efficiency and discipline found in California facilities.

The California Department of Corrections is a private institution dedicated to the alteration, rehabilitation and improvement of California’s most criminal advertising. Initiated in 1994, the department is operated by individuals who feel that California’s correctional facilities have been insufficiently managing the state’s most criminal elements.

For additional information on department programs and policies, contact the CDC Office of Communications at

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Enjoy the weekend!

burning billboard

via YIMMY’S YAYOâ„¢.

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Smart License Plates: A Very Dumb Idea?

via Ban Billboard Blight

Do you think the idea of California license plates than can show electronic ads is:

1.  A great idea, about time.

2.  Possibly questionable, but let’s study it.

3.  One of the top ten worst ideas of all time.

If you answered yes to #1, don’t bother reading further.  If you answered yes to #2, you’re in line with 25 California State Senators who voted to do just that, study the idea.  If you answered yes to #3, you can spend the rest of the day (or evening) pondering how woefully befuddled those legislators are to even spend a minute contemplating the idea.

The perpetrator-in-chief is Los Angeles area Senator Curren Price, who apparently sniffs some revenue for a state in perpetual budget crisis as well as perpetual paralysis between cutting spending and raising taxes. How much revenue?  Who knows?  In numerous news articles on the subject, Price is quoted as saying that he’s only proposing a study of the idea, and that the study will not  be funded by the state?  Huh? Who will fund it, then?  And how will that affect the objectivity of the study’s conclusions?

Here’s the legislative analysis of the proposal.  And below is one of the TV news pieces on the issue, with pros (gulp) and cons.

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