Archive for the ‘brands’ Tag

Clouds vs. Adverts

Round 1 São Paulo, January 2007 (photos by Tony de Marco)

The general public terrorised by aimless, drifting clouds. Where still, stately adverts once filled billboards on highways and street corners, the hoardings now stood bare.

São Paulo banned outdoor advertising. And, joking aside, there weren’t many complaints. (Advertisers aside.)

Sure – some folks lost landmarks that helped them navigate the streets. Outdoor ads can have this auxiliary function when they stay put long enough. But the reduction of visual noise was and has been appreciated.

For the record, here’s a glimpse of what São Paulo was like before:

Round 2 – Tel Aviv, January 2008 (via Treehugger)

The central “Ayalon” highway was the battle ground. And once again, on New Year’s Eve, ads lost.

A 40 year-old law won – ensuring that “fields and hills will not be stained as well with objects foreign to them.” First shroudings were broadcast live on TV (see below).

Round 4 – Buenos Aires, August 2008 (via The Anti-Advertising Agency)

It’s not happened yet, but it will do soon. Original story (for Spanish readers) from Clarín, reported at length by Treehugger and remixed for your leisure here.

Buenos Aires will remove 40,000 billboards that are infracting the city’s code. That amounts to 60% of the city’s outdoor advertising. It’s projected to result in something that looks like this. But it won’t be illustrated. It’ll be so real your camera can taste it.

The billboards were causing a hazard to drivers. With the digital flashes and cavalier cab-driving of the capital, this move could match the pleasure of finding a seat belt.

Better still – the new codes insist that different types of signs are tailored to each district’s visual style. Now that’s personalisation. Localisation, for the literal-minded reader.

Round 5 – Atlanta, sometime in 1951 (photo via)

The lights are turned off. Not even the messaging of the sky to mist this scene.

Just two signs catch my eye: Coca-Cola and Club Perchtree.

Club Perchree has a strapline I wish I’d written: “Dine and Dance”. That’s all you need to know, isn’t it? I’d go if I was hungry and wanted to move my feet after the eat.

And Coca-Cola? Well – it’s Atlanta. Colonised by Coke as a 20th-century sugar plantation. The first brand flag stabbed into the landscape by its native conquerors.

Incidentally, although Butler’s Shop is highly visible it doesn’t interest me. What kind of shop? Don’t know – so I’ll go for a dine and dance instead. Maybe drink a Coke while I’m there.

Points Score

The judges give a unanimous victory to simplicity in the city.

I’m an advertiser who lives in the city. So where does this leave me?

Content, for one. Excited, for two.

Because if you can reduce and organise, as John Maeda would say, you’re off to a start. Proceed with integrity – you’re communicating to other people – and you’ll be heading somewhere.

Not a billboard on your cobblestone highway.

Hey! Leave Those Brands Alone

Danish artist Nadia Plesner devised this design to raise money for Darfur.

Louis Vuitton aren’t happy about her fundraising activities (full story here), citing an infringement of “Intellectual Property Rights”.

“Intellectual Property”?

Wow. How contrary. Brands want us to love, cherish, kiss and hug them. Online, they want us to play with them, tickle them, retouch them (I’m thinking sneakers and labels – Beck’s Fusions last year comes to mind).

They want us to remix. Because they know we like to remix. But only if it’s on their terms and, preferably, their microsite.

This attitude’s so retro it’s almost charming. But not quite. And far less charming for its PR stupidity. They could have easily supported the campaign and added buckets to their brand greenwash. Not to mention dirtied dollars to the Darfur appeal.

I’m with Brazilian designer Mario Amaya (see below). Let’s get remixing brands, whether they like it or not. If they want to be in our lives, they need to be taught how the real world shakes today.

Related: Boosh vs. Honey Monster, Round 1.

Essential: The Pirate’s Dilemma – We Invented the Remix.

Previous: Segway Watch – the Future Goes Social.