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How to piss off your target market

Nolafemmes, a New Orleans blog, is mad as hell and isn't going to take it anymore.

In today's epically titled post "Historic French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé defaced with graffiti advertising Coca-Cola products," the blogger takes issue with Coca-Cola's egregious graffiti stencil messaging. She goes as far as to write the mayor of New Orleans to complain about it, even citing laws against this type of behavior.

The ads were designed to coincide with The NCAA Final Four. The messaging is for Coke Zero and Powerade. They were placed in high traffic areas, natch.

The Coke Zero message, though not very legible on the blog, looks like it has some tie-in to some offer or something, if one texts the word "Hoops" to a number, something happens.

Powerade, on the other hand, says "Hydrate Your Home Team."


It doesn't take much effort to realize why the woman would be upset. But I'll just go ahead and add more reasons to the list. Like: the lines suck. There is no idea here. And the advertising is a complete wank fest.

If law-breaking is involved don't you think it would be worth the effort to, oh, I don't know, do something creative and smart and even conceptually relevant to the media "buy?"

The best is the "New York Ad Agency" in question even fully admits breaking the law in their ad seeking a graffiti artist on Craig's List. I mean, really? You post an ad seeking an artist there?

While they thought they were being smart by taking the ad down, thanks to the magic of the internet, someone took a screen capture.


And as if doing crap advertising wasn't bad enough, the agency offered 15 bucks per stencil. 600 bucks for doing 40 of them. Way to exploit the artist.

But hey: At least they've got some earned media, thanks to Nolafemmes, adland and twitter.

Update: According to comments section below, they are working to remove the stencils. Awesome.

Previous street chalk ad ideas in adland.
City fights back - Pavement Not Ad Space
Verizon fined for chalk ads on sidewalk
Drive agency graffiti on ped X
Sony graffiti ads

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Anonymous Adgrunt's picture
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Dabitch's picture

There are ways of doing this legally as well. Not to beat my own chest here --- ah sod it, I'll beat my own chest like a silverback at this point - the Amsterdam tattooing campaign on my portfolio site (*cough* won an Epica *cough*) was done legally. That was really subtle, wasn't it?

I'll admit that it's easier to pull off in cities where the "wildplakken" and similar offbeat media/fly-poster companies already have channels to go through when getting permission for crazy stunts and new areas. In some places these "media spots" are simply stolen by enterprising people who turn it into fly-poster media-space without ever asking anyone if this is OK, like in Camden where the council fought back, arguing that Sony and BMG were making the taxpayers pay for those horrible ads everywhere.

A big famous brand like Coca Cola though? Arguably the most famous brand umbrella in the world? Guys, you can pay for your media space. Don't do illegal stunts just because it's street-cred cool. That ad creep and visual pollution brand with money can afford to avoid. What you're doing is sending your media bill to taxpayers - and they know it and will resent you for it.

Sarah Cannon's picture

Thank you for sharing your concern. There was a miscommunication between our agency and New Orleans city officials as to what the permit allowed us to display. We appreciate your commitment to the historic preservation of the French Quarter and we are quickly removing the stencils now.

Dabitch's picture

Thanks for the update Ms Cannon. Getting perms for non-traditional space sorted is often fraught with difficulties.

celcus's picture

Um..."fraught with difficulties"?

Defacing of public property is not "non-traditional" it is VANDALISM. I understand in third world countries such as New Orleans there might be some confusion but does this dimwit really thinks that spray painting ads for their crappy products on public property which is, um, you know, generally considered a crime, is some kind of gray area?

The only difficulty here is this corporation's utter contempt for the city and it's citizens (sometimes knows as customers).

Dabitch's picture

It's not vandalism when permission (from the city) is sought, the space is paid for, and the non-traditional ad is removed properly at the end of the run.

Thing is, someone always seem to fuck up along the way when these sorts of things are planned and brands/companies attempt to do the right thing. Or only claim to attempt to do the right thing as it has been in some cases.

Since cities aren't media companies, they're busy running a city not selling it for ad-space, having one city official say it's OK doesn't mean everyone else agrees like when Lighting Plus turned public art into ads and they all claimed it was some sort of misunderstanding.

InNola's picture

I am still trying to figure out how Coke can say it was an misinterpretation of city permit when the ad company admits in the Craigslist ad that this is being done without permission of the city... not. buying. it.

lunanola's picture

Thank you for this post; it made me smile. Your additional reasons for being displeased are dead-on.

kidsleepy's picture

You are most welcome, @lunanola. :)

AnonymousCoward2's picture

I don't buy it either. The ad agency working for Coke says it was doing it illegally in the Craigslist ad. They DID NOT CARE and never seeked any sort of permission.

Dabitch's picture

The text of the Craigslist ad, in case anyone missed the important (bolded) bit.

“New York based Ad Agency seeking street artist to assist with sidewalk stencils for well known beverage company.
The job date is Thursday, March 29th. We will have three teams and each team will place 40 stencils.
The pay rate for this job is $15 per stencil. Since you will be placing 40 stencils, you will make $600.
We will be placing these stencils without city permission and will be placed near Final Four trafficked areas.
If interested all candidates should submit resume and previous work.”

Also, wow. Street stencil artists have resumés and previous work now? Maybe a few references to call? Really?

Sport's picture

Sarah Cannon , I respect that you've come here to attempt to set the record straight, and I appreciate the way you've phrased it. "There was a miscommunication between our agency and New Orleans city officials as to what the permit allowed us to display. " Would like to know what the name of the agency is, so that I never end up working with them. GoGorilla?