Brookyln Vegan just posted a sad example of what seems to be a growing trend of compulsory spam. Someone at a recent Knitting Factory show posted a photo of their 21+ wristband and it's an advert for a movie called "In the Land of Women".
I realize that this post has now become a complicit part of someone's ad campaign but you have got to wonder whether marketers and the people who hire them understand the concept of ill will against their products when things get advertised like this. This kind of thing does not make me MORE likely to now see this movie... It makes me LESS likely to. But perhaps I'm in the minority.
One company, called Billboard Bands is behind this new "Non Traditional Media Platform" and has exclusive contracts in place with "over 150 trendy nightspots in the top 20 markets" where they can "reach today’s trendsetters and influencers". According to their site (which I encourage you to browse through):
With Billboard Bands’ wristbands, you can wrap your brand message right around the wrists of young working professionals. Worn for the entirety of a club-goer’s stay, Billboard Bands offers an innovative platform for creative advertising and promotion on a national scale, and at many of America’s most exclusive and talked-about nightspots.
HBO is one client who has already signed up with the company to promote their show Entourage (link). Has anyone considered that, perhaps, some people might not like to be human billboards or part of a "Non Traditional Media Platform" campaign?
In the past few months Tonic, Sin-e, CBGBs and the Continental have all bitten the dust so I can't really knock the Knitting Factory for doing anything in it's power to stay above water in a very hostile environment. Last week, it was announced that the building the knit currently occupies at 74 Leonard is up for sale. Meanwhile, Live Nation is buying up large venues like Iriving Plaza in NY, the Palladium in LA, and the Brixton Academy in the UK (well, actually they only have a 56% ownership stake in the last one, but it's pretty much the same thing). I really hope that this kind of thing is not a sign of things to come in these venues. To be fair, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
Every day you see lots of examples of urban spam. A typical example is a giant billboard the Gap erected on the Westside highway directly in front of Frank Gehry's new building.
The ad blogs and marketing trade press regularly discuss the "anti-marketing" sentiment best summed up by Bill Hicks in his famous rant. Across this spectrum you have idealists who want to destroy all ads (and are kind of silly), environmentalists (and others) who would like to simply see a more pleasant landscape and many, many regular people who sometimes get fatigued by having to stare at ads when they step into an elevator or use a public bathroom.
I think a decent place to draw the line is "compulsory spam". Being forced to become a human "billboard" in order to attend a concert is over the line for me. Bus Radio, where school age children are forced to listen to advertising while on the way to public school is another example. I would probably put plans to put advertising on security bins at the airport into this bucket as well because you are essentially forced to look at it by law.
I guess compared to these sorts of things, erecting giant billboards in front of landmarks and other over zealous marketing tactics, while certainly in very poor taste and lamentable, are somewhat more tolerable.... I've been conditioned to accept it.
Of course there's also plenty of examples out there of people who don't mind being billboards. Curiously 16 people over at Brooklyn Vegan have commented on the post which also asked what they were doing this weekend and not one person has responded to the image, so maybe other people don't see anything wrong with this practice.
Original photo by Tokyohana