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Corporate “Graffiti” Bombs the City

Axing[permalink]In Chicago, pretty much anyone has the right to remove graffiti from private property, thanks to a citywide initiative known as Give Graffiti the Brush. So a few weeks ago, a trio of champions used the rule to their advantage and painted over a graffiti-style billboard for Axe, the perfume for boys.

Taking matters into their own hands, Ed Marszewski, Elisa Harkins, and Matt are loved by some and hated by others. It’s only natural that not everyone feels the same about the action. As the trio was putting the final touches on the paint job, a rep from Axe's ad agency, called Critical Massive, showed up, livid. The owner of the building had a litany of complaints as well; many of them even making sense.

In a world where public and private space is shamelessly exploited to sell the latest product or lifestyle, what’s a corporation to do if it wants to be “authentic” and reach new markets? One way is for the corporation to co-opt forms of cultural expression, such as graffiti, and utilize those forms in order to “validate” their product to, in this case, a youth market. The Axe body spray “graffiti,” with its misogynistic messaging, attempted to do this until a group of angry community members took matters into their own hands and “authenticated” the graffiti through the act of painting over it. Because of their actions people will no longer see the ad, but as any real graffiti artist will tell you, those are the breaks. Read more.

Media: Quicktime Movie of Action
Chicago Reader Articles: 1 | 2
Stay Free! Daily's Original Blog Feature: Stay Free! Daily: Axing Corporate Graffiti
Additional Information: Graffiti Artists in the Policy Realm (.pdf file) | Give Graffiti the Thumbs Up | Mayor Daley's Graffiti Blasters Program | Chicago's Draconian Law Banning Spray Paint and Large Markers | Wikipedia: Undercover Marketing | 'Corporate Graffiti' Targeted in Council Crackdown




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