We love this billboard take over by French artist OX. Hopefully the owners of the Dunkin Donuts / Baskin Robbins appreciate the coordination with their awning.
Here’s the deal: There’s a company called National Public Advertising Outdoor that puts up advertisements on sides of buildings and other public places in New York and other big cities. The ads they put up are illegal. They do not have a permit. They city is not getting paid. Instead, they pay the landlords of the buildings they use. Citizens are forced to look at advertising all over NYC because this company has illegally plastered their ads all over town. For whatever reason, the city looks the other way and rarely cracks down on them.
This spring, Jordan from The Public Ad Campaign blog organized a massive grassroots retaliation against the illegal billboards. See our coverage here and here. In short, an army of artists whitewashed 120 different illegal billboards and replaced them with art. NPA Outdoor was furious and sent out teams to put their ads back up in a matter of hours. A few artists even got arrested after being caught in the act by police.
Since the takeover, NPA Outdoor has added a new notice to all of their billboard sites. As you can see in the photo above, it reads, “Coming soon to this location: a chance to win these posters and other prizes inside.” They are trying to find a loophole in their bullshit illegal business. It’s illegal for a landlord to put an advertisement on the side of his building, but it’s not illegal to put up a sign advertising products that are for sale inside. So by putting up this bullshit notice that claims you can win the posters inside the store, NPA is trying to get around the law. They’re smart to add the phrase “coming soon,” because if you go in ANY of the stores that have this notice, you’ll find that there are no posters. It’s all bullshit. I’ve personally asked people in a half-dozen stores for more information on “winning” the posters and every clerk has looked at me like I was an idiot. They had no idea what I was talking about, because there is no drawing for posters. It’s bullshit.
Why won’t the city crack down on New York’s true graffiti problem?
Tons of documentation is coming in from last month’s incredible New York Street Advertising Takeover, where hoards of artists and every day people came together to reclaim the streets by covering over 120 of New York’s illegal billboards with art. The project was organized by the Public Ad Campaign. Check out these three videos from the project:
artist – Ji Lee
This past Saturday over 120 illegal billboards were white-washed and covered with art in New York City by a team of volunteers and artists. The guerrilla operation was organized by The Public Ad Campaign over the past four months.
Barbara Celis writes:
As the main organizer explained to the artists who choose to get involved, the agency that owns the ‘attacked’ billboards operates on an illegal basis. “NPA outdoor operates over 500 street level billboards in NYC ranging in size from about 4’x4′ to 50’x12′. All of these advertising structures are illegal. I found this out by talking to the NYC Department of Buildings which has no permits for the NPA outdoor structures but has its hands full dealing with the rampant illegal billboard situation. I have also spoken directly with NPA outdoor employees who have told me that the NYPD will jail them from time to time at which point NPA lawyers bail them out and they are compensated 500 dollars for the nuisance of spending the night in jail”.
NPA Outdoor had teams putting their illegal advertising back up early Sunday morning. I personally spotted ads going up over artwork on 8th Avenue and 26th Street at 2 AM. Celis interviewed an artist at the afterparty who said, “Art is about the experience, about living the moment, and what we did was so fucking great for New York that even if they take down our pieces, we have learned that we can do it, and we will do it again. New yorkers had fun today in a very unusual way. It’s priceless!”