The life and times of a sidewalk advertisement

[One of the unfortunate sidewalk ads somewhere touting some ware on the University Campus.]

A while back -- I cannot remember exactly how long -- a marketing concern placed a series of advertisements surreptitiously around the University of Minnesota campus. This was interesting not for this reason -- after all ads are surreptitiously placed around the campus on a daily basis, covering the message boards and poles and classroom hallways and the blank spots on bus stop shelter windows with aplomb -- but because these were life size, full color ads placed on sidewalks at a few key points near campus that featured the image of a well-dressed, briefcase wielding young person who'd seemingly been flattened by a streamroller.

I forget exactly what product or service these images were advertising. But needless to say, as a Sidewalk Obsessed InDividual (SOID), I noticed.

I walked on one ad in particular at the well-trod corner of Cedar and Riverside Avenues, and I watched it age as time passed by. Seasons came and went, leaves performed slow suicides, snow fell and froze and covered all and then it cracked and melted and slopped through West Bank gutters and alleys driven back by warm summer sunshine baking its way through the concrete only to, inevitably, at once, turn again to its autumnal retreat to repeat once more.

And it amazes me to see that, despite slow disintegration, this sidewalk ad has an incredible lifespan. My feet are haunted by the form of a two-dimensional woman slowly crumbling like bleu cheese or an arctic glacier, now little more than mysterious white amalgamated blobs bestrewn about the underfoot slab.

I realize now that, more than anything else, it is this representational fracturing, this semiotic insanity that is the real affront, the reason why sidewalk ads should not be tolerated.

Let us draw our line in the concrete! Say no to sidewalk ads and their figured disintegration!*

* Chalk is OK though.


Unknown said...

Do you know if the ads were placed legally in the first place? I assume a permit from the City would be required to put them in public rights-of-way?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Lindeke said...

i bet you they just put them down w/out a permit. "guerilla marketing."

Christopher Loren Thompson said...

Cool series.

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this method of advertising can be environmentally friendly.

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