You Cannot Walk Away From "Reverse Graffiti" Advertising

If you think you can avoid advertising by, say, staring down at your feet as you walk through the urban landscape, you’re out of luck. Sure, you won’t see the billboards overhead, the skinny trucks that are really rolling billboards, or the dudes handing out flyers for various establishments of dubious pedigree. What you will see, however, are “reverse graffiti” ads, pressure washed onto sidewalks where, once upon a time, all you’d see were gum wrappers, dog poop and the occasional Obey Giant stencil.

Reverse Graffiti ads aren’t exactly new, but they’re getting a lot of attention lately, thanks to several companies that have been building out businesses globally over the past couple of years. One, GreenGraffiti, has licensing agreements in 10 countries, and pitches itself as an “environmentally conscious” company, because its ads are created using water, which is pressure-washed through a stencil to “paint” clean ad spots onto dirty sidewalks.

A single 140-centimeter-square, or 55-inch-square, green graffiti impression requires 15 to 20 liters, or four to five gallons, of water. That is about 30 times less than is needed to produce a paper poster of comparable size, [GreenGraffiti founder Jim] Bowes says. And to compensate even for that, the company has adopted a program of matching every liter used with a donation of a liter of clean drinking water to a drought-stricken region. It also plans to switch the power source for its pressure hose pumps from gasoline — it takes a liter to create 50 street displays — to renewable fuels. …

Domino’s Pizza was one of the earliest U.S. companies to commission GreenGraffiti, investing less than $20,000 in a campaign that included 210 street impressions, spread across New York, Philadelphia and Los Angeles last summer. Pedestrians were invited to send in photographs of themselves with the street images to win Domino’s gift cards. Domino’s estimated that the campaign brought it about $1 million worth of publicity.

While GreenGraffiti’s ads may be temporary, and don’t leave any residue behind, Bowes admits that he’s not even sure if what he’s doing is legal. And his ads are particularly vulnerable to would-be culture jammers. If you see one on your street and want to get rid of it, all you have to do is clean the sidewalk. No more ad, and no more gum wrappers or dog poop either.

Special Report – Business of Green – Marketing Firms Cleaning Up With ‘Reverse Graffiti’ []

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