20 December 2011

A Child's Christmas in Ad-Land

The job of ads is to embed itself in your psyche (a Media Buyer told me a broadcast ad isn't really absorbed 'til you've been exposed to it 22 times.)  And once there, so often they remain, undisturbed until one day, by chance, they're awakened and revived.  Perhaps by some Ad writer in a blog. 

Here are a few Christmas ads, retrieved as much from my cranial storage locker as from YouTube.  Like so many others- maybe even you- I can sing along, and recite the script word-for-word, some four decades later.

Pop-O-Matic Trouble  *Sigh*  To return to a simpler day when the suffix "O-Matic" carried enough heft to win consumer buy-in.  Washed out colour and a yucky audio track won't encumber the rush of memories lashed to this spot.  If you know it, I'll give six-two-and-even you know it verbatim.

LITE BRITE  I wouldn't have bought the '45, but again, I remember every note, and every word.  As, I'm sure, do all my former Grade 4 classmates of Pleasantville Public School.  Bonus points for working "outa sight!" into the lyrics, man.

HOT WHEELS  I cannot tell a lie;  I don't remember any Hot Wheels ads. (Hmmm.  And they don't seem to have had a jingle, like other spots cited here.  Interesting.)  But I know this:  in my world, your status was tied directly to your Hot Wheels car collection.  (As a member of the Hot Wheels club, I was issued a collector's edition Boss Hoss Silver Special, thank you for asking.)

ACTION JACKSON   Wasn't my brand.  But again, the jingle is Krazy-Glued to the floor of my cranial attic.  My guy was busy making life safe for democracy... on the Moon:

Major Matt Mason  With a jet pack operated with strings that became instantly tangled.  And rubber arms and legs kept in shape by a subcutaneous wire which, like a subcutaneous clothes hanger, would eventually snap when bent back and forth too many times, causing the limb to stick out permanently in some strange direction. (One day, when I reach my own personal expiry date, and a team is sorting through the goods in my rambling estate, tossing to the furnace items too small, even for Kijiji, one will pause to reflect upon a Major Matt Mason action figure with a wonky arm- my own personal Rosebud- before dispatching it into the flames.)

These vintage ads, revived on YouTube, are to the TV generation what the coveted pages of the old Eaton's catalogue were to generations past. 

11 December 2011

The Age of Persuasion... is over.

Today marks a fond farewell to the five-year run of The Age of Persuasion on CBC Radio.  In more than 100 half-hour documentaries, AOP explored the countless ways marketing and advertising have infused themselves in every aspect of 21st Century life.

I should stress that it was not CBC's decision to conclude the series.

It was time.

The Age of Persuasion struck a resonant chord:  more than a half million listeners tuned in each week to CBC, and to WBEZ Chicago, who picked up the series in 2011.  That's a larger audience than that which tunes into Peter Mansbridge on The National.  (Pardon the momentary outburst of hubris.)

It prompted a bestselling book of the same name, published in Canada, the U.S., and soon, worldwide in a Chinese-language version.

The series was designed to celebrate great marketing (which, at best, is artful relationship-building), and to condemn bad marketing (which constitutes an embarrassing majority of today's marketing messages). It challenged listeners to abandon the old "us" and "them" mentality about consumers and advertisers, for we are all, in the end, practitioners of persuasion.

From ashes to ashes, beautiful things always grow in their place.

For the moment, won't you join me in a fond tip of the glass to The Age of Persuasion.

The idea that became a brand unto itself.  

05 December 2011

The Persuasive Power of Reacting

Have a boo at this wonderful TV spot for Kohler.  Then meet me below, and we'll talk.

First, let's scratch the 'who is that guy?' itch.  The fellow playing the architect is veteran character actor Wolf Kahler, perhaps best remembered for having his face melt in the climax of Steven Spielberg's Raiders of the Lost Ark.  

That out of the way:  what a spectacular way to sell faucets.  Casting Mr. Kahler to play a credible, world-renowned architect, and the beauty shots of the architect's breathtaking workspace, give the premise a credibility.  It's easy to believe this is a place of upscale art.

Then, the switcheroo.  The woman reveals that she wants a house built around her swank Kohler tap.  Not ha-ha funny, but rather, lightly audacious.  

But that's the buildup.  Everything- and I mean everything- about this spot hinges on one moment:  the architect's reaction to the woman's request. 

Has it shown the architect buying in-  instantly worshipping the faucet- it would've been over-the-top.  Had the architect's jaw dropped and eyes bugged out, signalling that the idea is absurd, it would take on a vaudevillian feel.  Either fate would cause the floor to open, and the idea to drop into the shark-infested pond where almost-good ads meet their maker.  Or at least their maker's maker.

Instead, the architect's reaction is non committal.  In other words, the very reaction an architect would given when presented with a viable challenge.  In the silence you can hear the tumblers clicking between his ears.  "Design a house around a faucet? Hmmmm."

At some unspoken level, it suggests that Kohler faucets belong in a conversation about upscale design.

A fine bit of brushed-nickel branding, this. 

16 September 2011

The Age of Persuasion on... "Loud" Commercials

This month, the Canadian Radio and Telecommunications Commission slammed broadcasters for "loud" commercials- ads that blare louder than the programs they punctuate.  

No question, commercials seem louder.  People get angry if anyone says otherwise.

But are they actually louder? 

While working last year on The Age of Persuasion, I put the question to one person certain to know:  the Sonic Swede, the Nabob of Noise, engineer Keith Ohman.

"Well" says Keith, "it's not that simple."

Keith explained, I scribbled notes, and Terry O'Reilly explained in this segment of our 2010 episode Ask Terry Some More.

Seems the answer might be more complicated than telling broadcasters to turn down the volume. 

"Yeah" I hear you saying, "but they're still louder!"

Keep it down, I hear 'ya.  At least, for the moment, we've still got the 'mute' button.

Shhhh!  You didn't hear that from me.

09 September 2011

Here's a New One: America as the Underdog.

This summer, the Cannes Ad jury honoured this storied spot for Chrysler, wrapping its brand around the 'new' Detroit, to the music (and strategically omitted lyrics) of Detroit's own Eminem.

It's smart positioning, aligning Chrysler with the tough, edgy, street-surviving fighter, facing down automotive rivals with a chip on its shoulder.

What's remarkable is what a 180-degree turn this is from a four-generation tradition of ballyhooing Detroit as the squeaky-clean hub (pun intended) of the vehicular world.  Where 1950's executives with pencil mustaches smile benevolently down on a shop floor run by earnest working folk in denim overalls and a Calvinistic gratitude to the nation that puts an impact wrench in their hand, a few bucks in their pocket.

That 'old' Detroit is captured here, in a film created to promote a (failed) bid to win the Summer Olympics.  After a rather tedious opening (Memo to Mayor Cavanagh:  STOP HELPING!) the film really gets cooking at about the 2:15 mark:

Eminem wasn't born when this second film was made.  Yet 8 Mile already Road divided two classes, two cultures.  And the Detroit riot- the Black Day in July- was just two years away.

The Chrysler ad represents not just the position of Chrysler as the feisty underdog, taking on global competition, it repositions Detroit itself, formally ending its projected self-image as a white-bread industrial dynamo.

Naval-gazing and self-deprecation aren't so startling in Canada, whose culture embraces critical introspection.  But in the U.S., to admit that there are ashes from which the Phoenix must emerge, is one bold work of counter-culture.

Was there a choice?  Ultimately, no.  There's a whole "Emperor's new clothes" vibe to pretending Detroit still enjoys automotive supremacy.   (See under "W" for "Where have you gone, Lee Iacocca?")

The smart move, for now, is to celebrate that it's picking itself up off the mat.

06 August 2011


In print ads, it's called micetype; all the legal mandatories stuffed at the bottom of the ad in a font size that makes the bottom line of an eye chart read the like HOLLYWOOD sign.

It's bad in print.  It's worse on TV.  Using screen shots from YouTube, I give you exhibit A:

Specifically, this-

Okay, okay, you and I know nobody reads it.  The copywriter, the client, the account exec., the director, the broadcaster and the lawyers involved know nobody reads it.

The worst of all destinations for this meaningless high-octane legalese, by the way, is Radio, whose chronological real estate is both small and precious. When nuisance legal was necessary, the key was to consume as few precious seconds as possible, calling for (in copywriter's parlance) an ice-down-the-shorts delivery.

So why is it there?  Because advertisers haven't a clue as to a better way to cover themselves legally when making a claim or offer in a broadcast ad.  (A quick mea culpa:  I've written many a "[legal]" on broadcast scripts and print ads.  That denotes a space the account exec has to fill with the necessary mumbo jumbo from the legal department.)

Granted, this visual noise doesn't merit the ire of Shakespeare's Dick the Butcher:  "...kill the lawyers" (Henry VI); it's more in the tone of Dickens' Mr. Bumble: "...the law is an ass.  An idiot."  (Oliver Twist).  A fair assessment when, in a world cluttered plenty enough with ads, thank you, the finest legal minds in the ad game clutter the bottom of a beauty shot like this-

-with legal nonsense writ small, like this-

-and this:

If Abe Lincoln can stand in a pasture in Gettysburg and give meaning to 31 months of soul-crushing bloodshed in just 272-ish words (manuscripts vary slightly), you have to imagine the finest marketing noggins can find a way to cover the advertiser's tuccus- legally speaking- without the comic farce of print so small, and with such limited screen time, a viewer couldn't read it on a bet. 

Kill the lawyers?  Not me.

A meaningful wedgie, perhaps.

21 July 2011

Cannes Strips Controversial Brazillian Ad of Two Lions

Funny thing happened on the way down from the Cannes Lions podium last month.

Our story surrounds a contentious print ad for KIA's duel-zone climate control feature, from an ad outfit called Moma Propaganda of Brazil.

Upon winning a Silver Lion for print, and a Bronze Lion for Outdoor, the ad was quickly condemned by critics as 'The Pedophile Ad.'

KIA USA issued a nervous, if qualified, response, insisting that this ad would never run in the United States.  In an operation that big, it's hard to know if any branch of the company might have employed the Brazilian agency.  

This is the moment I imagine William Frawley in a 1940's screwball comedy, pinstripe vest open and cigar-in-mouth barking "Saaaaaay.  Something fishy's goin' on here."

And fishy it was.  Turns out that KIA has no relationship with the agency, and never commissioned, approved, or knew about the work.

It's not uncommon for agencies to fabricate ads based on in-house ideas to demonstrate wheat they can do.

And it's not uncommon (-shhhhh!-) for ad award entrants to sneak in entries- usually for their actual clients- for ads which, for some reason or other, never ran.  No, it's not cricket, but agencies are rarely caught.

In this case, KIA wanted nothing to do with the dark, graphic novel vibe of the Moma Propaganda ad.  Having some some digging, it announced shortly after the Cannes festival that it had never commissioned such an ad.  The agency was challenged by the Cannes brass to prove that it had ever run.  Evidently, they couldn't. So the agency was stripped of its trophies.  For good measure, all involved were forbidden to enter the Cannes competition until 2013.

"No Lions for you!  One year!"
A question lingers:  will Moma Propaganda- the disgraced Brazilian agency- be a net beneficiary of this exposure and publicity?

12 July 2011

Cannes Advertising Lions 2011

Here's the Grand Prix winner from this year's Cannes Advertising Lions.

It's the Avatar of the past year in advertising.  Nothing comes close for size, scope, ambition, or (here's an educated guess) budget.

I cite James Camerons' Avatar because it was, like his previous epic Titanic, so anticipated, so ballyhooed, and so saturated popular media, Cameron effectively challenged Hollywood's chew-'em-up-and-spit-'em-out film industry not to award him the Best Picture Oscar.

They obliged.  The Oscar went to Cameron's ex-flame Kathryn Bigalow for Hurt Locker.

No such showdown occurred this year at Cannes, where biggest, this year, was best.  Nike's Write the Future. by Weiden & Kennedy's Netherlands office, combines the who's who of world football with an unrestrained string of fantasies, to the 80's guitar anthem Hocus Pocus.

Clever, yes, though it seems to heave beneath the weight of its own ambition.  Or, to switch metaphors, just because you're cooking with the world's most expensive, most exotic ingredients, from Kobe beef, truffles, and foie gras to beluga caviar and saffron, doesn't mean they'll combine to make the world's best stew.

As with Avatar, the hype surrounding Nike's Write the Future feels pushed and self-generated in contrast to the organic, crowd-pleasing buzz around VW's Super Bowl gem, Force, written by David Povill of Deutsch Inc. of Los Angeles, and directed by Lance Acord, whose cinematography credits include Where the Wild Things Are, Lost in Translation, and Being John Malcovich.

Force was among the handful celebrated with a Gold Lion.

It's a grand thing to celebrate great work.  Especially in advertising, where such a small proportion of the work is good.  And a small proportion of that is outstanding.

But her, as with all arts awards, where there are so few tangible criteria for comparison, the peril lies in declaring this better than that.

09 June 2011

The One-Line Joke Just Got Longer

Hats off and Hoovers bowed to Red Devil's new viral ad:

There comes a time when you tell a joke- a really really long joke- that you've passed your P.N.R. (Point of No Return), and you realize that you've put some serious pressure on the punchline to pay it all off.

For most people, this Dirt Devil spot probably falls in the no-man's land- clever enough to merit some viral play, but short of holding a place on anyone's desert island reel.  (Hats off to copywriter/art director Andre Price and director Andreas Roth, whose work is striking, even when crammed onto a 19" monitor.)

This is a sample of the ways broadcast advertising is mutating and evolving online, where they can enjoy a fuller, richer, life-cycle online, where filling 90-seconds doesn't require a mortgage-the-villa media buy, where the lines of irreverence are drawn in chalk, and moreover, the viewer can take ownership, sharing and distributing favourites.

Compare the 'Exorcist' ad above to this DNA ancestor:

With some stick-with-it-ness, the comic device could spin out into a campaign with many legs, and significant longevity, in an age where ad campaigns rarely live more than 18 months.

15 May 2011

The Lion of Venice Beach

Joe Pytka.

Few outside the ad business know the name.  Billions- yeah- billions know his work.

TV commercial director Joe Pytka has worked with the legends of pop culture and sport- most notably Michael Jordan.  Just as effectively with Maddox, Glavine & McGuire, from those halcyon pre-steroid-scandal days of Major League Baseball.

And just when you'd think Pytka is about hitching his star to major celebrity, he'll toss you this:

 Agents know their star athletes' stock goes up- waaaaaay up- when Pytka directs them.  He makes them look clever.  Funny.  Hip. So do the brands who pay the freight; Pepsi.  IBM. Hallmark. Hancock Insurance. And so often... Nike. 

Joe Pytka has directed features ("Space Jam" was based on Nike spots he created with Michael Jordan and Warner Bros. cartoon characters;  a Richard Dreyfus comedy called "Let is Ride" falls under "W" for "What were they thinking?")

But his masterworks are packaged as broadcast ads.  A possible exception being his oh-so-stylish work on the Beatles' semi-reunion video "Free As a Bird," with more quiet allusions, subtle inserts and Easter eggs than the Sg. Pepper album cover:

To be continued...

26 April 2011

(Free!) Lessons From the Best: Great Print Storytelling

Most print ads might leave you wondering what good the medium is.  Each year, a special few remind you how great it is.

Or can be.

A simple one-colour, text-only ad can still catch the eye, and convey the brand:

The addition of colour, and the change-of-font effectively make the turn from the posh imagery into the econo-reality of Dixon's online shop.  Quickly, the idea builds equity in the mind of the viewer, who is thus attracted to the next ad in the series:

This ad for the World Wildlife Fund, who enjoy a storied history of great ads, uses the one-two appraoch, which introduces a common perception (picture #1) then challenges it (picture #2):

And again, once established, readers come to connect the idea to the brand: therein lies the power of the campaign:

A variation of the one-two is the (wait for it...) one-two-three.  In this case, it's a delicious bit of storytelling in three simple parts:

The common link among these ads- beyond some well-deserved recognition at the 2010 Cannes Advertising Festival, is that they aren't create for the client- they're created for the reader.

Such a simple, so often-overlooked advertising axiom:  the key to serving your client, is to serve your client's client.

20 April 2011

The Dark, Seamy Sideyards of Election Advertising

Funny thing about ad messages.  You can plant them, water them, sun them, and (yes) fertilize them. But what grows doesn't always look like the picture on the seed package.

In 1993 Canada's Conservatives launched a TV ad that none-too-subtly used imagery that emphasized the partial paralysis in the face of Liberal leader Jean Chretien.  Roll the first part of this CBC report- including Chretien's play-it-like-a-harp response, and you get a taste of how violently this snapped back into the Tories' faces.

Even today, at some level, campaign ad-makers (whose tribe dwells in lands largely unknown to your humble servant) try to incorporate in their ads some schoolyard ridicule tied to appearance, demeanor, race, or physical non-conformity.

It must be apparent enough for it to resonate with its target viewer, yet buried enough so as not to provoke accusations of schoolyard bullying.

Enter this guy:

Senator John Kerry posed a marketing threat to handlers of the Bush re-election campaign of 2004.  In marketing parlance, Bush needed to 'own' patriotic militarism.  But Kerry had him outflanked with a record that pushed all the right buttons with the American public:  a distinguished service record in Vietnam combat, including three (count 'em) Purple Hearts- then a compelling anti-war stance upon his return.

(Sure, we're flitting from Canada to the US and back: but this thread of thinking remains intact.

Even the greatest pro-Bush ads could not elevate the President above his rival in this hugely important, emotional category.

The only tactic available were negative ads.  The deadly power of negative ads is that they do not have to prove anything, or convince anyone outright.  They need simply to plant and water and (yes) fertilize seeds of doubt in the viewer's mind.

Here's the problem:  had the Bush campaign launched the 'Swiftboat' campaign against John Kerry (the nickname for the campaign to discredit Kerry's military credentials), the low-road cache of this approach could have leaped up and bit Mr. Bush on his presidential tuccus.

So a faceless "3rd Party" group was assembled:   SwiftVets and POW's for Truth, who set about 'unhero'ing the Democratic nominee:

3rd part election ads allowed George Bush to stroll the high road, disavowing the shenanigans of the SwiftVets, and insulating his campaign from the backlash that stung Canada's Tories in 1993.

Once George Bush won reelection, the SwiftVets disbanded.

Mission Accomplished.

The solution? Regulation won't work.  Political ads are virtually un-regulated- the biggest ticket-to-lie in all of advertising.  The reason?  No ad regulator wants to play referee during a campaign, or break up scraps among partisans.

So the rules that apply to advertisers in Canada and the US don't apply to campaign ads.

With free speech protections in Canada's Charter of Rights, and the asinine ruling on campaign spending by the US Supreme Court, 3rd party election ads will thrive as the new supermarkets of slander come campaign time.

The solution is an educated viewer who can see these attack campaigns for what they are.

31 March 2011

TV Campaign Ad History in Four Acts

With the election on in Canada, the time seems ripe to look at seminal moments in the brief (just a half century!) history of TV campaign ads. 


TV campaign ads were born in the early 50's, when Republican nominee Dwight Eisenhower conscripted some high-end talent- including Disney animators, who incited people to (wait for it...) "get in step with the guy that's hep."


In 1960, Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy launched this ad, painted by some as the earliest ancestor of today's attack ads: 


Perhaps the most famous- or infamous campaign ad was "Daisy"- created in 1964 by the legendary agency Doyle Dane Bernbach.  Like another landmark TV ad (Apple's "1984) it only aired once.


When Ronald Reagan sought reelection in 1984, he dragooned such ad heavyweights as Phil Dusenberry and Hal Riney, whose unmistakable voice graces this spot:  "Morning Again in America."  With a strategy filed under "A" for "Ain't Broke- So Why Fix It."


In 1988, Republican candidate George H.W. Bush took the 'nasty' of the Kennedy attack ad of 1960, and set the tone for many of the attack ads that are only now seeping into Canadian politics.  The only ingredient missing is the inevitable low synthesizer drone:


Bob Edwards
Humour.  I suspect that some time- in the near or distant future- someone will take an enormous risk and create genuinely funny campaign ads.

And in the spirit of Bob Edwards' observation "people will pay more to laugh than for any other privilege"- the campaign that commands laughs will run the table.

22 March 2011

Putting the 'Ow' in 'Audi'

It is entirely appropriate that the ad business is rife with metaphors of war, and chess.

The Audi billboard on the left appeared along Santa Monica Boulevard in Los Angeles not so long ago.  Soon after, the BMW folks retaliated, in a move recorded by its agency, Juggernaut Advertising, for whom this video is an ad in itself- boasting of Juggernaut's authorship of this 'nana-nana-boo-boo' moment:

BMW billboard from Juggernaut Advertising on Vimeo.

The Audio folks forgot that chess is about thinking a few moves head.  And they payed for it- literally. For the duration of their poster's run, they had to pay to play the foil to their arch rival. 

When the 'billboard war' ballyhoo'd and reported in some corners of the press never erupted, this incident was demoted to the status of 'one-off.'  

Advertising wars can in themselves draw all kinds of attention, and help grow the product category.  But they're also expensive, and bruising, and oh-so-hard to stop.

Hence the metaphor.

15 March 2011

01 March 2011

Using Ad Clutter to Your Advantage

You may have come across this ad-  it too was honoured at Cannes in 2010.  If you'd be so good, I want you to look at it with one word in mind:


When you see an ad like this- from YouTube, you can enjoy it as a self-contained entertainment.  But you probably don't imagine what the spot 'feels' like in the context of broadcast- running as part of a noisy pack of messages and promos within a commercial set.

I'll bet you a nickel that most of the ads that usually surrounded this one were comparatively fast-paced and frenetic, stuffed with quick cuts, graphics and audio-visual information, in the spirit of the "MTV Effect" Terry and I discuss in our book.

That's this ad's secret weapon.  It has such a simple brief:   promote the Young Director Award. That gives the spot room to breathe-  space to spin out a story.  In this case, without dialogue through most of it- which in itself catches an audience's attention; ads are typically so busy, so noisy, and so verbose, that non-dialogue grabs the viewer by the ear.

And what a great moment it all leads to. 

In context this is a relatively quiet, deliberate, intelligent few moments of great storytelling, framed on either end- and I've got a nickel riding on this- by manic, loud, caffeinated sales pitches.

05 February 2011

The Art of Choosing the Right Conversation

A great ad is a conversation. And the test of a great Copywriter, and a great Creative Director, is to know which conversation to have.  Which line-of-thinking will best engage the viewer.  

Suppose you're charged with promoting the idea of road safety.  The default position in such ads has become shock.  Graphic footage.  Alarming statistics.  A foreboding "it could happen to you."

This spot- "Embrace Life"- honoured last summer at the Cannes Advertising Festival, didn't allow its tires to catch in the trolly tracks* of conventional ad creative. 

Statistics and graphic footage are, to most people, abstract- literally disassociated from their life and experience.  They must translate the information into something more personal, and meaningful.  ("Hmmm... this statistic about seatbelt usage suggests that someone in my family could be in danger.")

This traditional, empirical creative approach is flawed, but understandable.   Because marketing is an industry prone to operate on tangibles.   Facts.  Figures.  Logic.   An ad becomes an argument.

Yet it's emotion that so often drives the most effective advertising.

This spot by-passes the translation from tangible to personal, and goes right to the emotional benefit of road safety; a benefit conveyed with breathtaking clarity in the expressions on these actors' faces.

It's the viewer's visceral emotional connection to this family facing a threat that makes this spot intangible, powerful, and effective.

Chalk one up for the right brain.

* pun intended

19 January 2011

Hold the Eulogy: Great Super Bowl Ads ain't Dead

Why... this is my favourite spot from last year's Super Bowl, thanks for asking.  

Call it 'storytelling by other means'; the art of telling a story by unconventional means. Such as... say... a TV spot that tells a story, not with actors, dialogue or on-screen text, but by queries on a search engine. 

Or Hemingway's famous "shortest story ever":  "For sale: baby shoes.  Never worn."

It was part of the genius of Alfred Hitchcock, who opened Dial M for Murder with a Ray Milland / Grace Kelly sequence that told us everything we need to know about the main characters- without a word of dialogue.

Hitchcock did the same again in Rear Window- where in one opening shot we learn that Jimmy Stewart's character is an accomplished magazine photographer, that he was working too close to a crash at a motor race, that he broke his leg (and still got a great photo), and that he was cooped up in a wheelchair in his apartment.

Not a word of dialogue in either of 'em. 

This Google spot not only tells a story, but- as anyone with a marketing eye notices immediately- demonstrates the product in doing so.

'Nuff to leave you speechless.

05 January 2011

Cities: the new Blank Canvas of Advertising

Owners of heritage buildings are forbidden to make even the slightest changes to their own properties without a litany of applications, reviews and approvals.  The reason, one presumes, is to protect the integrity of the urban landscape.

An advertiser, meanwhile, is much freer to unleash immense, evocative, provocative works of outdoor sales-art with far less opposition.

The best of them inspire by infusing a brand message onto the everyday landscape, effectively creating a new medium; which- yes- becomes the message.

Every day, fresh patches of the urban landscape are claimed as a canvas for advertisers increasingly desperate to rise above the growing daily firestorm of ad clutter. But while prevalent, the trend is by no means new.

In 1925, André Citroën advertised his automobiles on the side of the Eiffel Tower, in what Guinness long regarded as the world's largest advertisement.


Advertising is an accepted, even welcome component of most urban landscapes.  No one fond of downtown Tokyo, or Times Square in New York, or- heck- anywhere in Las Vegas would advocate a downtown ad ban in those places.

Urban advertising-art is undeniably brilliant.  And a vibrant conversation-prompting addition to the landscape.

What sits wrong is that, outside of advertising, our society incorporates no economic motive, wields little collective will, to creative similarly inspiring architecture, neighbourhoods, public art installations, and gathering places on the blank urban canvas.