To Do December 10 in NYC: “Infiltrating The Underground”

That’s the title of a 30-minute documentary from  Paper Tiger Television and Anne Elizabeth Moore. Sorry marketing pros: It’s not a how-to.

This video collaboration will look at how big business is chipping away at democracy through underground cultures — and how underground cultures willingly participate.

The program will examine how and why anticorporate culture and independent media have been co-opted by corporate advertising and the profit-making agenda, examining instances where the government and big business collude to silence independent voices — and concerns for social justice.

A follow-up to Moore’s 2007 New Press book, Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity, the video Infiltrating the Underground investigates what happens when the underground becomes just another market, and what independent artists
and media makers can do about it.

Infiltrating the Underground: The Corporatization of Underground Culture airs Wednesday, December 10th at 3 and 11 p.m. on Brooklyn Community Access Television, and at 8 p.m. on Manhattan Neighborhood Network. I gather previews will be posted on the Paper Tiger blog. Copies of the video can be purchased  “for classroom use or to air on local community access stations,” from Paper Tiger.

Earlier: Murketing Q&A with Anne Elizabeth Moore about Unmarketable.

Does your brand have what it takes to be an instantly recognized insult?

I was amused by one bit of an AIM exchange that Jeff Staple reproduced on his Arkitip blog, between himself and somebody at Apple. The subject was the new Blackberry, which Staple was thinking of buying. Apple guy, who was appalled, replied in part:

uv tried typing on it? there’s fundamentals w/ just design philosophies….the haptic feedback screen and push down click/screen isn’t anything new…it’s cool that they’re trying to push it on their end tho…but…it’s like reebok dude….some shit is yeah…ok, i can live with…looks ok. but, at the end of the day its just………reebok.

Pretty much a bummer for the folks at Reebok to read that, I would think.

New Orleans top bomber: Busted!

Maybe this is old news, but I didn’t know until Charles told me:

Fred Radkte, the “Gray Ghost,” the guy in New Orleans who rollers over and obliterates any and all graffiti/street art, and has even been tweaked by Banksy, got arrested.

Apparently he painted over a mural that had every right to be there. Doug MacCash in Times Picayune:

On Wednesday, Radtke, New Orleans’ most celebrated and scorned anti-graffiti activist, was in the process of rolling gray enamel over a newly finished painting when he was brought up short by a pair of National Guard Military Police officers. Though Radtke has long enjoyed the cooperation of the New Orleans Police Department, this time he had defaced art that was painted with the permission of the wall’s owner, Southern Coating and Waterproofing.

Apparently there was no comment from Radtke. But now he has something more in common with his nemeses: Like them, he’s obsessed with leaving his mark all over town, and like them, he’s been hounded by The Man! “If convicted, he could be fined up to $500 and/or spend up to 90 days in jail, plus pay restitution.”

Meanwhile the mural he went up over has been redone. Pix here.

In lieu of AntiFriday: Clorox Green Works link

Here’s an interesting article from last month’s Fast Company about the endorsement of Clorox Green by the Sierra Club. Writer Anya Kamenetz asks: “With no independent scientific assessment of Green Works products, and with an undisclosed amount of money changing hands, what does that Sierra Club seal on the back of the bottle really mean?”

The answer seems to be that it’s meant a lot of internal dissent at the Sierra Club — and strong sales for Green Works. Good story.

In other news, I’m kind of thinking of not doing AntiFriday anymore. Anybody care? It doesn’t seem to have gained any traction.

AntiFriday bonus! Potential 3M backlash?

Across the transom comes the mystery email of the day, reading: “It was recommended that I pass this on to you..,” followed by this link. It goes to a post at All About Content, headlined “3M Carjacks the Post-It Note Jaguar.”

This is the story of how a $24.5 billion multinational corporation refuses to pay a small licensing fee to the amateur photographer who inspired its commercial campaign.

The short version of the allegations is:

In December 2006, somebody covered a car in Post-Its (above), and the images got a lot of Web love.

In spring 2008, 3M got in touch to license the image(s).

Apparently not wanting to pay the requested sum, 3M simply recreated its own version of the idea — Video — to use at point of sale, etc. (Below.)

Post-It Note Car Stolen by 3M, originally uploaded by Scott Ableman.

I’ve done zero reporting on this, so basically I’m simply telling you that All About Content is outraged, and makes this familiar argument about backlash peril:

If you’re a corporate marketer interested in getting into social media marketing, viral video promotion, link bait, etc., I suggest consulting with people who know the communities you’re targeting. Any of us could have told you that stealing photo ideas from the community and using them to pimp your office supplies is not a good move.

So what will the consequences be for 3M? Well, we’ll see.

Thanks: Mystery tipster.

AntiFriday: Your weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

* Those of you who follow the links in the sidebar at right, or via the Murketing RSS feed or Delicious, may recall the stories about an Army-themed clothing line launching soon at Sears. Apparently some are not happy about this deal, because some of the clothes will feature the patch of the 1st Infantry Division. Politico quotes one vet saying: “That patch is to be worn by only people who served in the 1st Division. What right does the Army have to sell our patch?” More about the history of the Big Red One patch here. [Thx: Braulio]

* “EtsyBitch is a communal blog of likeminded Etsians who are tired of the demeaning treatment, abuse, and general mismanagement of the Etsy.com site.” [Thx for the tip: Harriete (who I should clarify wasn't endorsing the blog, I don't think, just telling me about it.)]

* “Corpoetics is a collection of ‘found’ poetry from the websites of well-known brands and corporations. Nick Asbury has visited various company websites, found the closest thing to a Corporate Overview, and then set about rearranging the words into poetry.” Examples here. [Via Design Observer.]

* The Association of National Advertisers has sent a letter to regulators arguing Google-Yahoo search advertising deal “”will likely diminish competition, increase concentration of market power, limit choices currently available and potentially raise prices to advertisers.”

* Center for Science In The Public Interest going after Sparks. Earlier CSPI went after Spykes, an A-B product that was pulled (not long after being the subject of an April 29, 2007 Consumed).

* Anti-Advertising Agency talks up a documentary called Bomb It, “about the battle for public space between graffiti writers and advertising.”

* Triple backlash special: The Grinder zings an ad by the Corn Refiners Association that’s meant to backlash against anti-high-fructose-syrup sentiments. Got that?

AntiFriday: Your weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

That’s right, AntiFriday is on Saturday today. Here goes.

* Heart asked the GOP to stop using “Barracuda” as Sarah Palin’s de facto theme song — and the GOP promptly played it again after her convention speech. “I feel completely f—ed over,” Nancy Wilson says. She and sister Ann add: “Sarah Palin’s views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song ‘Barracuda’ no longer be used to promote her image. The song ‘Barracuda’ was written in the late 70s as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women.” Slate says the GOP may not need the band’s permission.

* Unplug Your Friends features a cute video intended to counter “screen addiction.” Specifically you can counter screen addition by joining/forming a Meet Up group — or (in a classic murketing tactic) emailing your friends to get them involved in Meet Up. And I must disclose that this came to my attention because someone at Meet Up sent it to me. [Link goes straight to video]

* The Washington Post assesses retail signage that looks a lot like Barbara Kruger’s work. Guy responsible says it’s an “obvious homage.” Kruger doesn’t seem to care one way or the other. Writer Blake Gopnik concludes: “Sometimes — maybe even most of the time — the look of an image is itself the thing we care most about it. Its look is its crucial content. Its style is its meaning; it’s what gets distilled out of it, as the message we take home. When a real estate agent borrows Kruger’s look and leaves most of her ideas behind, he may be treating art the way most of us do.” [I'm a devoted WaPo Style page reader, but thanks also to Braulio for mentioning this.]

* And finally: E directs my attention to this video in which you “meet the graphic designer behind Hollywood’s most famous floating head movie posters.” Amusing. [Again, link goes straight to video.]

Art v. commerce: When to walk away

Maybe this should wait till AntiFriday, but …

Via ArtsJournal, here’s Mark Ravenhill in The Guardian:

Recently, I became excited about the possibilities of creating a drama serial on the internet: thrice-daily instalments in a fresh medium. But I quickly discovered that the only source of funding lay in business. There are no ad breaks in internet drama. If money is forthcoming, the only option, at the moment, is for the drama and the advert to become one. Current internet dramas are funded by – and feature characters prominently using – a particular type of mobile phone or sanitary towel. The drama’s hero, driving the action of the scene and determining the final cut, becomes the product, not the character.

If this is the only choice available, then I figure, as a dramatist, it’s best to walk away.

AntiFriday: Your weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

First, just for the record, I’d like to express my disappointment that not one of you took me to task for publishing last week’s AntiFriday … on Thursday.

Okay let’s get on with it.


*. Via BB, a T shirt that riffs on the PBR logo, and also riffs off the various Christian T-shirts that riff off brand logos in general. (Examples of those here on Purgatorio.) Parody of parody, I guess.

*. Sex & The City wins the Film Whore award, for most brand placements, per The Independent: “The film, which declares in the opening scenes that life is all about ‘love and labels,’ features 25 fashion designers, eight shops, seven electronics brands, seven publications, seven food and drinks brands, five cosmetics companies, three car companies, and one airline.”

*. Amusing summation of flaws in Sears gamer ad: Kid is playing “a PlayStation 3 game, with an Xbox 360 controller”

*. Speaking of Banksy, Debbie Millman shares the street artist’s thoughts regarding the ad industry, here. Once again, I note in passing that my opinion of Banksy as a supposed King of Anti-ness and Artistic Purity is colored by having been approached some years ago by his publicist.

*. Accusation: Republican ad subliminally includes the word “hang” in the  background of an Obama clip.

*. PSFK points out the Urban Prankster blog.

*. WFMU’s Beware of the Blog links to a video in which “Capitalism takes a trip on the NYC subway.” I don’t really get it as anything beyond absurdity, but, here you go:



AntiFriday: Your weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

Michael Phelps to endorse Frosted Flakes, and the Daily News notes some health experts who don’t like it: “I would not consider Frosted Flakes the food of an Olympian,” says one. But really he’s an ex-Olympian, isn’t he? “Frosted Flakes: Breakfast of Former Champions Who No Longer Have to Worry About Staying in Shape.” “Frosted Flakes: The Official Cereal of Going To Seed.” Right? [Via Commercial Alert.] …

More seriously, Bill Moyers had a great interview this week with Andrew Bacevich. It’s better to see it than read the transcript, and the quote that follows isn’t the part the made it so compelling, but I’ll just throw in one bit, because it relates to earlier posts here and here: Moyers asks about GHW Bush’s 1992 pledge that the “the American way of life” is not up for negotiation, and Bacevich replies most Americans would concur, but: “If you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, then we need to change the American way of life. We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.” I believe you can watch the whole interview here. …

Much less seriously, I meant to mention this earlier but I don’t think I ever did: Andrew Andrew keep mentioning this site, The Impulsive Buy. I’d heard of it before (and maybe you have too) but only recently actually checked it out, and it’s pretty entertaining. …

Marginal Utility contemplates “wrongness” — that is, “purposeful attempts to alienate an audience through a kind of puerile repetition or offensiveness that on its face contains no politically subversive content.” Possibly relevant to recent-ish discussions on this site of MySpace and other unappealing aesthetics. Either way, worth a read. …

Here’s an interesting post on The Consumer Trap, that questions the use of words like “consumer” and “consumption.” Michael Dawson writes: “Usefulness, pleasure, longevity, and cost minimization are our normal goals as product users. Consumption, the final using up of a product, is almost never our intention.” I thought this was an interesting framework. Do we think of consumption as happening at the moment of purchase? Or at the final-using-up of a product? …

Sabrina Gshwandtner, in American Craft, writes about “many long-standing DIYers” who “feel that craft fairs are now, for better or worse, a hybrid mix of straightforward commercialism and viable counterculture practice.” Etsy, too. Or maybe Etsy even more so. …

Core77 points to an excellent video comparing iPhone in adland vs. iPhone in real life. Ouch!

Funny deconstruction of some weird Burger King place mats on Idea-Sandbox. I’d missed this earlier, but I guess it’s made the rounds. If you missed it … well, check it out. (Thx: B.A.) …

Coudal points to an anti-bottled-water video. I actually hate it: It’s everything that’s wrong with “cause” marketing, shrill, insulting, lecturey, overlong, and smug. But for a good cause! And maybe you’ll disagree. …

AntiFriday: Weekly compendium of backlashes, dissent & critiques

NYT story looks at the role that ad campaigns played in making debt (home equity loans) ets., less scary to consumers; ad execs now say ” society’s attitudes about debt shaped the ads, not the other way around,” but I bet they didn’t say that in pitch meetings ….

The Wall Street Journal recounts The Olive Garden’s “mixed feelings” about “rogue brand ambassador” and Hugh Heffner harem member Kendra Willkinson; traffic-hungry blogs pile on ….

In survey, 73% say Starbucks coffee is too expensive ….

Living Oprah, blog of 35-year-old artist, performer and writer in Chicago: “For one year, I will live as Oprah advises…. Additionally, I’ll be charting the cost of living as Oprah prescribes. Will the costs — financial, time spent, energy expended — be worth the result?”  …

Report “focuses on methods of advertising food to kids [via] spreading messages through social networks, and urges lawmakers to restrict junk food advertising to kids online” (via Commercial Alert) …

Anti Advertising agency on plan to limit outdoor advertising (removing 40k billboards) in Buenos Aires….

A political ad making fun of Barack Obama uses the Jackson Browne song “Running On Empty,” and Browne, “incensed,” is suing. …

Shell newspaper ads in the U.K. describing oil-exploration and refining projects as sustainable-energy initiatives spark complaints from World Wildlife Federation, and Britain’s ad-watchdog agency forces the company to withdraw them …

Amusing yet earnest video by Municipal Arts Society about news racks around NYC in clear violation of various laws …

AntiFriday: Bono-hating; Converse murketing; etc.

Well it’s AntiFriday again, and time for a rundown of the latest in dissent, backlashing, critiques, and like that.
1. On The Point website, someone has started a campaign titled: “Bono — Retire from public life and we’ll donate a ton of money to fight AIDS.” Partly it’s an anti-Product Red effort, but really it’s about hating Bono. The “Pitch,” in part:

Bono’s philanthropy efforts are self-righteous, ineffective, & counter-productive….

The grassroots leaders of the global fight against AIDS didn’t ask for Bono to be their frontman. Its time for Bono to step down. We’ll all pledge donations to the Global Fund, but no pledges are collected until Bono retires from public life…

As I type, $1,108 have been pledged.

This item via WFMU’s Beware of The Blog, where Bono was previously assaulted here.

2. The Oregonian reports that a Converse effort to put up street-art-style ads on some buildings on Portland’s North Alberta Street has ended poorly. Somebody called the cops, but that’s not really the bad part.

The vacant building’s owner, developer Rambo Halpern, said he wouldn’t have granted permission to Nike-owned Converse to post the ads had he been asked. Alberta Street, he noted, is known as an art district and alternative business hub.

“They’re a little bit anti-corporate, anti-chain,” Halpern said. “Providing free advertising to a corporation making billions of dollars a year is not high on my list of priorities.”

Ouch! Not exactly the reaction Converse wants, I’d say. (Actually, I did say it, to reporter Brent Hunsberger. I’m quoted in this article. Just so you know.)

Related, on Public Ad Campaign blog: Converse subway ad subverted in NYC.

3. Steve Powers offers this:


Enamel on aluminum; $1,999; here.

If you missed Powers’ most recent project, here’s a Times article by Ariel Kaminer, about the “Waterboard Thrill Ride.”

More AntiFriday after the jump. Read more

AntiFriday Bonus: Apocalyptic political smear?

This Wall Street Journal article sums up the “controversy” over a McCain Web ad (on YouTube, here) that some say suggests Obama is not just aloof and full of himself and naive … he’s the antichrist! A highlight is expert commentary from Left Behind * co-author Tim LaHaye:

[He] said in an interview that he recognized allusions to his work in the ad but comparisons between Sen. Obama and the antichrist are incorrect.

“The antichrist isn’t going to be an American, so it can’t possibly be Obama. The Bible makes it clear he will be from an obscure place, like Romania.”

The story also notes that “suggestions that Sen. Obama is the antichrist have been circulating for months in Bible-study meetings” in some towns, and also that the ad’s imagery is suggestive in ways that will be obvious to anyone versed in what an expert calls “apocalyptic popular culture.”

I’m hoping that this draws a Paris Hilton-style response video from the actual antichrist.

UPDATE: Here is barackobamaantichrist.blogspot.com. “Hello. You have stumbled upon this site by searching ‘Barack Obama Antichrist’ which was in the back of your mind, you were curious if anyone else had thought about it, so you gave it a google. Welcome. You are not alone, explore the site.” Be sure to view the poll results. [Thx to extra-special adviser E for that.]

[If you're not a big apocalyptic pop culture follower, Left Behind was discussed in the November 13, 2005 Consumed.]

AntiFriday: End of Western civilization; more Croc-hating; shameless schemes; etc.

The weekly roundup of backlashing, dissent, and critiques.

1. What’s a hipster? For some reason I’ve had several conversations about that in the past year. Here is AdBusters on the topic:

We are a lost generation, desperately clinging to anything that feels real, but too afraid to become it ourselves. We are a defeated generation, resigned to the hypocrisy of those before us, who once sang songs of rebellion and now sell them back to us. We are the last generation, a culmination of all previous things, destroyed by the vapidity that surrounds us. The hipster represents the end of Western civilization – a culture so detached and disconnected that it has stopped giving birth to anything new.

2. Crocs, subject of a July 15, 2007 Consumed, are still hated — this time, per UnBeige, by Tim Gunn: “it looks like a plastic hoof. How can you take that seriously? I know it’s comfortable; I understand that. But if you want to dress to feel as though you never got out of bed, don’t get out of bed.”

3. AdPulp links to a video in which “activist, entrepreneur, and venture capitalist” Joi Ito questions the self-congratulatory faith of VC-tech culture: “The capitalists aren’t really that helpful, generally.” The upshot is they chase deals and don’t focus on social implications, basically listening to the profit motive only and screening out the rest. AdPulp’s David Burn adds:

I think the same thing can be said for the ad business. Like technologists, we have a lot of power, but we don’t think about the harm we might be doing or the decided lack of a moral compass in our shops and clients’ businesses. That’s a flaw.

A bold observation/assertion. Good starting point for a wider conversation, I would think. Wonder if others in the business will pick up on it.

List continues after the jump. Read more

AntiFriday: In Nike’s face; “Never Greens”; etc.

Time for another roundup of the week in backlashes, dissent, and critiques. Here goes.


1. An “in your face” print/outdoor campaign from Nike is accused of blatant homophobia by Towleroad.com — and by many, many comments on the W+K site where the work is posted. Other comments, of course, defend the ads, but some of the images (above, for instance) seem pretty calculated to me. [Thx: discoczech.]

I’m also sort of curious if any of the slang-ologists among you have a reaction to the one below. I associate the phrase “Punks jump up” with the early 1990s Brand Nubian track “Punks Jump Up To Get Beat Down,” which has a great sound — but also, if I remember right, included an anti-gay epithet in the original lyrics that was later excised.

But then again I’m not exactly long on street cred, so maybe the phrase “punks jump up” has other associations and the fact that it makes me think of that song is coincidence. I actually find that particular juxtaposition of image and phrase generally confusing. Any thoughts?


2. BrandWeek on “the Never Greens“:

a small but persistent new consumer demographic — people who either don’t care or are not interested in America’s new passion for sustainable, green products.

It’s a demo that’s been overlooked by marketers as they rush to tout their carbon offsets, recycled content and eco-friendly manufacturing.

About 10% of the population are Never Greens, according to a survey by Mintel International in Chicago, a research firm.

The Never Greens don’t buy green products, don’t remember green advertising when they see it and are irritated by it even if they do, according to Mintel.

More AntiFriday after the jump. Read more