As we end the day, we thought we’d post just a few thoughts of our own about the anti-graffiti ad campaign that BBDO West has bequest (as a pro bono gift) to the city of San Francisco.
First, what struck us the most when we saw the campaign was how shortsighted the notion is that outdoor advertising is the solution (a white knight if you will) to the problem of graffiti in San Francisco (or any other city for that matter).
At a time in our history when advertising has fallen to an all time low in its effectiveness, it seems somewhat naive to think that, of all things, an outdoor advertising campaign would have any effect at all on the situation.
There are much better ways for the city and BBDO to use their resources. How about giving money to alternative/non-traditional art programs? How about supporting more spaces and studios for emerging artists? Why choose graffiti at all? Isn’t AIDS. or the homeless. or breast cancer, or the lack of education of kids in California, more important to the citizens of San Francisco than fuckin’ graffiti?
And in this day and age, who the hell changes their views because of an advertisement they see on the street?
Second, for people who actually live in the city, why is it that the onslaught of outdoor advertising is more acceptable to the general public than graffiti?
Why is graffiti seen as a blight to society, but crap advertising that covers every wall in our city is accepted as if its “normal”?
Just because one is bought and the other is stolen doesn’t necessarily mean that one contributes more to society than the other.
And if advertising is so powerful, why are more and more advertisements looking more and more like graffiti art? As more brands begin to adopt a graffiti aesthetic to sell their products, why would BBDO essentially bite the hand that feeds them by rejecting the very culture that they desperately are wanting to appeal to for the brands they represent? Is being in the good graces of the Mayor of San Francisco so damn important that you would turn against the very group that you are trying to emulate and appeal to in your advertisements?
The whole anti-graffiti ad campaign makes very little sense to us. We’re not against advertising in general. (Hell, the adidas ads during the World Cup were absolutely brilliant).
What we are against is advertising that has absolutely no value whatsoever other than to the agency executives and the city officials who salute it at the press conference.
True investment in local communities changes society. True commitment and funding for the arts changes the course of people lives.
True commitment to discussion and dialog creates consensus.
Trying to solve society’s problems with outdoor advertising only adds more clutter and crap to our cities.