Thursday, May 29, 2008

Blue ribbon bland

I like murals, well...ok, some murals. Living in Philadelphia, you kind of get used to seeing one on almost every other side of a building, thanks to the city's mural arts program. The murals are good and not-so-good but, overall, I think they tend to bring another level of life to an old city.

A few weeks ago, I was out on an errand. Walking past Fleishman's Fabrics (pictured above) I noticed the outlines for a mural on the side of the building at 5th and Monroe."Nice", I thought, "something other than the black walls to look at..." A couple of days later, I saw the mural taking shape with two guys painting the walls and colors starting come through. About a week in, the wall was finished.

I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely didn't like what wound up there. As you can see, it's basically an ad for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer using the art of Pabst art contest winners. It seems Pabst has an art contest where the works have to feature the beer prominently. The winners, apparently fans of the beer, get a monetary prize, spots in a traveling exhibition, AND they get to have thier works reproduced in murals. Great, now I get to look at mediocre images of a mediocre beer every time I pass this corner, which is at least four days a week.

This movement of so-called 'viral marketing' has got to be the most cynical and tired efforts by corporations to gain new consumers. Not that it hasn't worked, but most of these campaigns, especially those targeting the 18-25 demographic, come off as heavy-handed and usually missing the mark. I'm reminded of some ads for a PSP video-game console that mimicked street artists by using grafitti-inspired characters and wheat-pasting. That campaign was basically laughed off the walls, and faced the wrath of business owner who didn't want the ads on their businesses. In fact, there were some prominently displayed on the walls of a business directly across the street from the one I'm complaining about.

I'm guessing Fleishman's were offered some money to have the murals put up. That's the only way I could imagine them agreeing to have it up. Maybe, they really like Pabst and wanted to show that love to the world. But what do I know? I know that if they really wanted something artistic, eye-catching and original on the walls, they have a school-full of creative, energetic grade-school kids right around the corner who, with some guidance, could probably have put something up that was amazing. Not to mention that there are thousands of LOCAL artists and would-be artists who would have been happy to help spruce up this dark corner. Instead we passers-by get a bland, corporate logo to brighten our day.


A related item is here
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