Judge Delivers Wrist Slap to Bloomberg's Graffiti Ban


As much as New York Mayor Bloomberg wished to sweep Marc Ecko's graffiti party under the rug, a colorful judge, yesterday, armed with the full weight of the first amendment and a wrist-slapping attitude toward the cities efforts to ban the event, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled in favor of Ecko and required the city to reinstate a permit Ecko had requested for a block party at which mock subway cars will be painted graffiti-style. The event was to promote an Atari video game which would make the event commercial, thus allowing the city greater control over the event but Ecko, Friday, said the game would not be featured at the event making the event fully covered by the First Amendment.

Out legal linguist Bucky Turco sat in on the decision yesterday and tells us the judge "ridiculed the city and scolded them for first amendment violations and for acting outside of their provisional power and authority."

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by Steve Hall    Aug-23-05    
Topic: Policy

Bloomberg Censors Atari Game Promotion


Following criticism by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, his Office of City Affairs revoked a permit granted to Marc Ecko to host an August 24 "block party" to promote a new Atari game called, "Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure." The game features characters who graffiti a city in defiance of corrupt government officials. The event was to center around graffiti artists tagging models of old New York City blue-bird subway cars. When Bloomberg caught wind of the promotion, he said, "Look, there is a fine line here between freedom of expression and going out and encouraging people to hurt this city. Defacing subway cars is hardly a joke. Encouraging people, kids in particular, to do that after all the money we've spent, all the time we've spent removing graffiti."

Certainly, the city does not want to be bombarded with un-approved graffiti but here we have an event created specifically for the artistic expression of graffiti where nothing other than sponsor-paid props are being used as canvas for the artists. Not one bit of city landscape is involved. Sure, it's all about marketing a promoting a game that involves encouraging graffiti. But it's a game. Not real life. There's a difference. Atari and Mark Ecko have provided talented artists with a legal, sanctioned channel through which to create and celebrate graffiti as an art form. Is it really any different that Time Magazine's hiring of COPE2 to paint a sponsor-paid billboard? We think not.

Art seems to express itself whether it is given a canvas or not. In this case, the smart thing for Bloomberg to do, in the long run, is provide that canvas.

UPDATE: Marc Ecko has written an open letter explaining his position in the Comment section.

by Steve Hall    Aug-16-05    
Topic: Outdoor, Policy, Promotions

Former Spammer Settles With Microsoft

Humorously asking whether or not email marketing company OptinRealBig should change its name to DoubleOptinConfirmedRealBig, New Media Report says company founder Scott Richter has settled a lawsuit filed against him by Microsoft for $7 million.Reportedly, Richter is "sorry for spamming" and the lawsuit has caused him to re-think how he does business. As part of the settlement, that re-thinking will be heavily monitored over a three year period by an independent party who will oversee OptinRealBig's business practices.

by Steve Hall    Aug- 9-05    
Topic: Online, Policy

Madison May Cave to Madison Avenue

Madison, Wisconsin, a city that has long shunned outdoor and in-school advertising may, in the face of spending caps and citizen's unwillingness to pay more taxes, give in to the easy money made possible through advertising. School officials, while loathe to do so, are revisiting the possibility of gleaning revenue through school-based advertising. Madison residents have always snubbed their noses at advertising with Alderman Mike Veneer calling bus shelter advertising "gross" and ruinous the the city's ambiance.

Displaying complete insensitivity to the cities mindset or freedom to decide whether or not advertising is an integral part of the community, Adams Outdoor Advertising General Manager Chris Eigenberger says it's "humorous" that Madison residents hold their city to higher standards than other cities that allow more advertising and said, "That to me is just arrogance and not thinking properly." Hey, Chris, there's this thing called democracy. Heard of it? It has to do with people having a bit of choice in how they live their lives and how the communities in which they live operate.

by Steve Hall    Jul-18-05    
Topic: Policy

Shona Siefert Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison

Following Thomas Early, who got 14 months in prison, Siefert will be tasting the inside of a cell as well and, quite humorously, as part of her sentence, will have to draft a written code of conduct for the advertising industry. Eighteen months in prison ought to remove any versions of adver-babble that might remain in her brain.

by Steve Hall    Jul-14-05    
Topic: Policy

School Considers Selling Naming Rights

The proliferation of ad creep has made it far too easy for institutions in need of money to turn to marketers for relief. Naming building and stadiums was once taboo. Now, it's odd if a sports arena is not named after a marketer. A school in New Jersey sold the naming rights to its gymnasium to local grocery store Shop-Rite and now an elementary school in suburban Detroit is considering courting marketers to name its new school.

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by Steve Hall    Jul- 5-05    
Topic: Brands, Policy, Sponsorship

Wait! Milk Doesn't Help You Lose Weight

The International Dairy Foods Association is running ads, based on recent Dairy Council-funded research, claiming milk can help people lose weight. Just as we were ready suck down our Venti-monstrous double cream, caramel and mocha laced latte topped with a dollop or all natural, cream-drenched vanilla ice cream, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ruined our dairy orgasm by petitioning the FTC and FDA stating the Dairy Council weight loss claims are false and misleading.

The International Dairy Foods Association is standing by its claims. IDFA Spokeswoman Susan Ruland told the New York Times, "We are extremely conservative and careful in the claims we suggest. We spent years looking at what was going on in the science and what was fair to say."

General Mills Spokeswoman Beth Thorsgard, who supports a Yoplait campaign which claims eating three servings a day will get you into your "itsy bitsy, teeny weeney, yellow polka- dot bikini," said the physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine are a "radical, fringe organization that promotes vegetarianism."

Check out the New York Times article for the full scoop.

by Steve Hall    Jun-21-05    
Topic: Policy

USDA Refuses to Adopt Commercial Alert Junk Food Petition

Commercial Alert is a bit upset the U.S. Department of Agriculture, yesterday, rejected a petition (pdf) asking the government group to enforce its own rules which prohibit public schools from selling "foods of minimal nutritional value," otherwise known as junk food. The petition asked for, among other things, monthly certification by schools that they are abiding by USDA guidelines, annual audits by state agencies to insure guidelines are being followed, adherence to guidelines as a critical area of review for school food authorities, adherence to guidelines an integral part of Food and Nutrition Service review of state agencies and USDA management control over compliance with guidelines.

Commercial Alert Executive Director Gary Ruskin isn't pleased. "It is outrageous that the USDA is refusing to enforce its own rules against selling junk food in public schools. They have turned their back on American children, who are suffering from an epidemic of obesity." While no one is forcefully placing the mouths of children on the dispensing area of vending machines, temptation is hard to resist.

by Steve Hall    Jun-14-05    
Topic: Policy

Gillette Says Screw It, Keeps M3Power Razor Claim

Even though a U.S. District Court ruled, earlier this week, Gillette's M3Power advertising claim, "stimulates hair up and away from skin," is unproven by Gillette research, the razor giant, snubbing the court and competitor Schick, will continue to use the "up and away" phrase in its advertising.

by Steve Hall    Jun- 4-05    
Topic: Policy

Human Race Regains Sense of Humor

Humor. Heard of It?

Last Month a KFC ad, showing call center workers singing with their mouths full to promote KFC's Zinger Crunch Salad, which ran in England garnered a record 1,671 complaints to the country's Advertising Standards Authority because many felt it would cause bad manners among children. At the time we said that was ridiculous and wondered if the human race was losing its sense of humor. Today, the ASA has agreed with us stating it did not agree with those that lodged complaints and that the ad was unlikely to cause bad manners. Parents teach manners. Commercials don't. There's a difference.

by Steve Hall    Jun- 1-05    
Topic: Opinion, Policy