Maybe it’s just the headache talking, but I find the discussion about these ads as tiring as the ads themselves, and as uninteresting as the product they’re pushing. The ads are generating some press about local anger over corporations sponsoring vandalism, and WoosterCollective had a series of posts a few weeks back debating the pros and cons of the campaign. Marc from Wooster — himself an ad agency executive — rode the fence:
The ads are open for interpretation. And we like this a lot. They don’t hit you over the head with a two-by-four…. And most importantly, the characters are cute and infectuous. The ads are what you want them to be.
But here’s the big problem with them:
At the end of the day – being deceptive never fucking works. Ever. Doesn’t [the company] know that there’s something called the Internet? The real lack of restraint is that the ads have been popping up all over the country. Because of sites like the Internet, the campaign gets exposed as a fraud by the same people they are trying to appeal to.
Second, does anyone seriously think that the company cares about being “exposed as a fraud”? As long as you mention the name of the product, I doubt they care what you say about it. And the company isn’t trying to appeal to graffiti artists or street art afficionados, they’re trying to harness the energy and mystique of street art in order to appeal to people — kids and their parents — who know very little about the movement and sell them something that has nothing to do with the values or practices of that movement.
One of the most tiring arguments within this whole controversy is this one:
Whats so wrong with someone making a little dough to pay the rent or to buy a drink or some paint with their profit
Nothing. Fine. Go ahead. I work a shitty job too, but that’s not the point. The point is, for every single artist that is paid big money to lend edginess to a boring product, there are hundreds of kids who do graffiti for free and put themselves at major risk every time they go out. The NYPD has made 2,230 graffiti arrests this year alone, almost double last year’s number. Any discussion of the “mainstreaming” of street art or the ability of a few artists to get paid has to take that reality into account.
Picture at top from GammaBlaBlog‘s flickr photostream. Second picture: Corporate Vandals Not Welcome.