That’s a first: today I rode a Swatch subway car. Of course the interior of a New York City MTA car is usually plastered with ads (this one was all Swatch – inside and out – an immersive brand experience), but this is the first time I’ve seen ads on the exterior of the car.
Over the weekend, I went to a baseball game at the Mets’ new stadium, Citi Field. Paula Scher’s Citibank logo (famously sketched on a napkin during a client meeting) is in gargantuan scale on the facade of the stadium. The tentacles of advertising have greatly extended their reach since the last time I was at a ballgame – it seems that even the sponsorships are sponsored these days. The stadium walls are a busy collage of ads – some of them animated digital billboards. The announcers on the Budweiser Jumbotron announced the winner of the PNC bank baseball quiz (an audience member held up her prize – a PNC bank travel mug – and forced a half-smile). On the stadium’s television screens, one logo swept over another – “This! Brought to you by that!” Now that all stadiums seem to have brand names instead of name names, we joked that the next logical step would be to rename the players themselves: Carlos Gatorade at first base, Ryan Delta Airlines at shortstop, and so on.
The subway ad seems like a no-brainer now that I think about it – ad execs must’ve been clamoring for a shot at that enormous, moving billboard for years. But who let them have it? The cash-strapped MTA? Being forced to endure ads taller than I am when the G train (finally) pulls up is invasive, abrasive, and obnoxious. I hope that the public does not become too complacent about the ever-expanding role of advertising in our lives. We have voices when it comes to this kind of thing, and social media has proven to be especially powerful in expressing our backlash against it.