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IBM busted for "quiet" graffiti ad campaign

By skim123 in News
Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 11:09:51 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

According to this article, IBM has been using "guerrilla marketing" to help bolster its peace, love, Linux ad campaign. Specifically, police in Chicago and San Fransisco have busted ad folks illegally tagging sidewalks with "peace symbols, hearts, and penguins." Chicago police have reported over 100 such taggings.


IBM is fessing up to the charge, seeing as it's IBM's PR company's employees who have been busted by the police. In its defense, IBM says that they instructed their PR folks to use biodegradable chalk (not the spray paint, that was used, which is what is causing the ruckus).

It seems that there has been a rise in this type of marketing in the past few years, where large corporations try to make it seem like passionate private citizens are going out on their own and doing these promotional things. I wish I could remember some specific cases, but haven't a few movie "fan sites" been uncovered to really being run by the production company?

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IBM busted for "quiet" graffiti ad campaign | 26 comments (25 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
Interesting... (4.00 / 5) (#1)
by Electric Angst on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:07:18 PM EST

So, IBM claims that they were going to use chalk in this ad campaign. Has anyone seen the images? Circular logos in a vaugly warholian 3x3 pattern? I sincerly doubt that this could have been done in anywhere near the amount that has been employed without spray-paint and stencils.

I hope IBM gets royally roasted for this, and advertisers figure out that not all public space is acceptable for their crap.


--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
According to the article (3.50 / 2) (#2)
by Karmakaze on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:16:21 PM EST

So, IBM claims that they were going to use chalk in this ad campaign. Has anyone seen the images? Circular logos in a vaugly warholian 3x3 pattern? I sincerly doubt that this could have been done in anywhere near the amount that has been employed without spray-paint and stencils.
IBM's press releases refered to it as (IIRC) a chalk-based paint. It is perfectly possibly to grind chalk fine, put it in some sort of matrix, and spray it through a nozzle over a stencil.

The article also said it doesn't melt in rain as nicely as IBM claimed, but it does not neccesarily follow that the paint was not spray-chalk.


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]

yes, I've seen them (and link to image) (5.00 / 2) (#4)
by jrh on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:20:16 PM EST

I've seen them on San Francisco sidewalks. I mind them less than most (legal) ads, to be honest, and the idea is fairly amusing. I don't think very many people notice or understand the ads.

Here is a picture of one of these.

BTW, IBM isn't the only company doing this. While waiting outside a SF restaurant, I noticed a Plastic ad painted on the sidewalk. It had one of the Keith Haring-style stick figures used in Plastic advertising genuflecting before a flame-spouting computer monitor, with the command "Submit to Plastic." It was larger and more of an annoyance than the IBM ad.

[ Parent ]

They're on pretty good... (none / 0) (#23)
by Otter on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:06:28 PM EST

Whatever they used, or were supposed to use, the ones in Cambridge don't look they're fading away any time soon. The paint used may be composed of chalk but when you spray it on a concrete sidewalk, it's a thick, deeply embedded layer that's not going anywhere.

To me it's like spam. At first you think it's not an unreasonable idea. Then you realize what would happen if everyone did it. It's only effective as long as most of the world is too courteous to join in.

Just another reason I'm glad I moved to Somerville... ;-)

[ Parent ]

Go IBM! (3.00 / 4) (#3)
by your_desired_username on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:18:29 PM EST

It is gratifying to know that the Linux community has angels like IBM, who work selflessly to promote our cause. +1 FP.

Are you being sarcastic? (3.00 / 1) (#7)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:42:36 PM EST

Sorry, but I am tired. Was this sarcasm?

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.


[ Parent ]

Yes. (none / 0) (#9)
by your_desired_username on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:49:02 PM EST

I do not trust IBM any more than I do Sun, MicroSoft, or the company I work for (which is to say, not at all).

I despise ad campaigns of nearly all sorts - but this kind more than most.

[ Parent ]
Hehe, that's what I figured (none / 0) (#11)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:30:48 PM EST

That's what I though, but, as I said, I am tired, and I almost replied having taking your comments seriously! :-) That would have been a bit embarrassing, eh?

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.


[ Parent ]

modify scoop (none / 0) (#21)
by jayfoo2 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:00:11 AM EST

There should be a special category of mojo for posts that inspire you to hit reply and get halfway into typing a screed before your clue filter kicks in and you realize it was a joke.

call it sublime troll points?

-foo

[ Parent ]
The opposite of Peace, Love, and Linux.... (3.60 / 5) (#5)
by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:30:07 PM EST

So I guess the cities of San Francisco and Chicago are declareing themselves, now, to be in favour of what....

War, Hate, and Microsoft?

Doesn't suprise me too much tho... San Francisco has, for some time now, been trying to shed it's reputation of a geek-friendly city. Various propaganda campaigns have circulated, particular around the last election, to the effect that anyone who knows more than is "acceptable" about computers is:

Maliciously trying to drstroy the art/music scene....
Hell bent on eliminating SF culture...
A "yuppie" visciously trying to expel old residents...
etc, etc, etc....

Dig through the archives of The Guardian for fine examples of the above.

And to think... not long ago SF had the reputation of being THE PLACE for people who weren't accepted elsewhere to go. Oh well, I guess EVERYTHING runs in cycles.


john

Imagine all the people...

No, the opposite of graffiti (4.00 / 1) (#6)
by skim123 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:36:55 PM EST

So I guess the cities of San Francisco and Chicago are declareing themselves, now, to be in favour of what ...

Errr... no. If a city is going to allow graffiti it would make sense that they would allow any type of graffiti. So if you are going to allow peace signs, you should also allow Satanic symbols, no?

Of course, I assume you were being half-serious, so wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.


[ Parent ]

Well, kinda.... (none / 0) (#15)
by SvnLyrBrto on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:07:33 PM EST

>Of course, I assume you were being half-serious,

Well, yeah... I WAS going for the half-serious, hope - someone - thinks - it's - funny bit at first. But then I stopped and remembered the months leading up to last November...

The second half was totally serious.

There really ARE factions in San Francisco that would have you beleive that techies are a bunch of horrible rampageing cossacks out to destroy all that is good and sacred. Check out the aforementioned Guardian, and to a lesser extent, the SF Weekly for good examples.

Now, I don't, myself, get treated as such here... So I'd say it's safe to assume that the aforementioned malcontents are a fringe minority. But they're a *very* VOCAL minority... with the ear of the editors of a couple of widely distributed newspapers.

So bitch me out for either being unfunny or having drifted offtopic... whatEVER


john

Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

This was on my mind this morning (3.66 / 6) (#8)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:43:15 PM EST

As I was standing at my bus stop (in Chicago) this morning I noticed Tux's cute little head on the ground. I had heard about this, there were some storys from SF a couple of days ago. It got me thinking.

Specifically I was pondering on the mainstreaming of Linux in particular and Open software in general.

Up until the last year or so Linux has been 'our' thing. A scratch your own itch, we're solving our own problems kinda thing. We use it, we evangelize for it, we hope that it and other open software will become the way of the future and save us from nagware, bloatware, crippleware, and just plain bad software.

And we've been successful. More than you'd think for a concept as foreign (today) as giving something wonderful away.

But now we've got some new players in the pond. The big kids. IBM, Corel, Novell. There has been corporate interest in Linux for awhile now (Red Hat, VA, et al) but this is a different story.

But I can't decide how I feel about it. The fact that IBM is getting behind linux shows that it is really about to hit prime time. Part of me is ecstatic. Part of me is a little sad.

I'm going to kind of miss it being 'our' thing (course they haven't found *BSD yet). There are going to be some things we don't like, and I don't mean subtile differences about what goes in the kernel.

We're not going to like graffitti, viruses, people trying to own the software, things like the slashdot crusier (I know that's a different example).

Plus there's that feeling you get when you beat civ, ok what do I do now.

This is basically a big non-sequiter. I was going to make it a diary entry but then the story got posted, so I'll spew here.

Anyone else have similar thoughts? Am I just whining? Should I drink my coffee before I get on the bus rather than in the office so I don't wander off into the mental desert like this?

-foo

You win, you whine. (none / 0) (#18)
by Tezcatlipoca on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 05:32:00 AM EST

So we the users are getting companies to use software that levels the field in the relationship between software providers and software users and what happens? People whine because they lost their toy! Dammit, the toy is still yours, you can start your own Linux distro without corporate enhancements if that makes you happy. With propietary software you can't. That is the whole point!

Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]
true true (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by jayfoo2 on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:56:58 AM EST

Like I said I was just waxing philisophical. I'm thrilled that Linux and the concept of open software is becoming mainstream. I just hope the concept of painting my bus stop dosen't do the same.

I would really get annyoed if the street in front of my stop said 'Where do you want to go today'.

-foo

[ Parent ]
lush, blue astroturf (1.80 / 5) (#10)
by eLuddite on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 05:51:03 PM EST

large corporations try to make it seem like passionate private citizens are going out on their own and doing these promotional things.

I use Linux because freedom depends upon it. So should you!

---
God hates human rights.

Hear, hear (none / 0) (#25)
by FnordLord on Sun Apr 29, 2001 at 10:57:55 PM EST

Hear hear, brotha!

[ Parent ]
I liked it (2.50 / 2) (#12)
by bjrubble on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 06:41:36 PM EST

It may be astroturf, but I thought it was pretty cool astroturf. I've been noticing these around San Francisco recently, and my response was "neat!" Maybe this comes from a childhood spent watching cartoons designed to sell Japanese toys, but I like good advertising. They made me smile and I place value on that when I buy things, because I like to smile.

How will people respond to this? (3.60 / 5) (#14)
by lavaforge on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 07:04:05 PM EST

This add campaign will cause two reactions:

1. "Hey, Linux..."
2. "Damned kids, what is that penguin anyway?"

This campaign will only reach people who don't need to be reached.

"In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But, in practice, there is." -- Jan L.A. van de Snepscheut
Playstation 2 (3.00 / 2) (#16)
by Smiling Dragon on Wed Apr 25, 2001 at 08:07:55 PM EST

Here in NZ someone (Guessing either Sony or a local retailer) painted a bunch of blue PS2 question marks on the pavement the day before the PS2 launch. Was kinda cool advertising, I wasn't that annoyed and they disappeared a few days later...

-- Sometimes understanding is the booby prize - Neal Stephenson
All over the place (3.33 / 3) (#17)
by J'raxis on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 01:24:38 AM EST

How many other cities have been tagged? They're all over Central Square in Cambridge, MA. I had no idea they were for IBM until I saw this on Slashdot; especially considering how close Cambridge is to real free software organizations.

-- The Raxis

[ J’raxis·Com | Liberty in your lifetime ]

Why "Peace" and "Love"? (3.50 / 2) (#19)
by lucas on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 09:52:01 AM EST

This ad campaign is supposed to target Baby-Boomers, but I'm not sure exactly how defacing public property is supposed to turn on aging, conservative Boomers.

Unlike the "real" rebellion the hippies made against a very oppressive society, the Linux "revolution" has been a marketing term used to sell products. In comparison to the 60's, society is very lenient and tolerant.

When my father explains what life was like as a hippie, I'm really not sure how it relates to hacker culture. Maybe stuff like Fondue Parties where everyone eats from the same pot correlate to sharing the same "pot" of code.

NYC, too (3.00 / 1) (#22)
by technik on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 10:01:02 AM EST

Saw these a few days before the article about San Fran turned up on that other discussion forum (*cough* slash *cough*). Amusing bit of astroturfing but I'd be really amused if a judge ordered IBM to get it's employees and a few of the managers who approved the stunt out there with steam jets, power-washers, and brooms and clean up that and other graffiti as punishment.

MLP (1.00 / 4) (#24)
by Ian A on Thu Apr 26, 2001 at 02:56:53 PM EST

This should be MLP, its already been on slashdot even.

Sun offers to help clean up IBM graffiti mess (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by skim123 on Mon Apr 30, 2001 at 12:36:13 PM EST

http://www.internetnews.com/IAR/article/0,,12_754971,00.html

"Sun Microsystems Inc., looking to turn an IBM Corp. marketing gaff into a public relations coup for itself, announced Friday that it will help the City of San Francisco clean up the sidewalks Big Blue spray painted as part of its Linux eServer advertising campaign. ... Sun said Friday that when it learned that IBM had failed to meet the deadline San Francisco had set for the clean up, Sun volunteers offered their help. But Sun also took the opportunity to take a swipe at IBM, which has become its main rival in the server space."

Nice to see that Sun didn't miss a chance for free publicity. Erg.

Sorta like being gay: you're walking around, you know something's up, you just don't know what it is yet.

IBM busted for "quiet" graffiti ad campaign | 26 comments (25 topical, 1 editorial, 0 hidden)
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