Blog Posts

Unmarketable, by Anne Elizabeth Moore

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Media Literacy

From The New Press Web site:

Unmarketable: Brandalism, Copyfighting, Mocketing, and the Erosion of Integrity by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Unmarketable, by Anne Elizabeth Moore

For years the do-it-yourself (DIY)/punk underground has worked against the logic of mass production and creative uniformity, disseminating radical ideas and directly making and trading goods and services. But what happens when the underground becomes just another market? What happens when the very tools that the artists and activists have used to build word of mouth are coopted by corporate America? What happens to cultural resistance when it becomes just another marketing platform?

Unmarketable examines the corrosive effects of corporate infiltration of the underground. Activist and author Anne Elizabeth Moore takes a critical look at the savvy advertising agencies, corporate marketing teams, and branding experts who use DIY techniques to reach a youth market—and at members of the underground who have helped forward corporate agendas through their own artistic, and occasionally activist, projects.

Covering everything from Adbusters to Tylenol’s indie-star-studded Ouch! campaign, Unmarketable is a lively, funny, and much-needed look at what’s happening to the underground and what it means for activism, commerce, and integrity in a world dominated by corporations.

Anne Elizabeth Moore is the co-editor of Punk Planet, the Best American Comics series editor, and the author of Hey, Kidz! Buy This Book: A Radical Primer on Corporate and Governmental Propaganda and Artistic Activism for Short People. She has written for Bitch, the Chicago Reader, In These Times, The Onion, The Progressive, and Chicago Public Radio WBEZ’s radio program 848. She lives in Chicago.


To get more of a sense of what this book is about, check out Rob Walker’s very interesting interview with Anne Elizabeth Moore from his blog Murketing.

Singapore’s Hip Hop Co-option

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Truth that's Stranger than Fiction

Singapore’s Media Development Authority is a governmental agency created to plan and promote the growth of media in the city-island-nation. Check out their MDA Senior Management Rap:

via Neatorama, from Sadly, No! Things that should never be

Writers Strike Spawns More Exploitation TV

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Media Literacy, Media Pranks

First, a simple explainer as to the issues causing the Writers Strike, from the Writers Guild of America (WGA) via Ellen Sandler:

The Writers Strike: Why We Fight


Thanks Erin. Now, a look at the world of television without writers:

Writers Strike Means Reality Boom Times
by Lynn Elber
AP Television Writer
November 27, 2007

Los Angeles (AP) — For five years, John Langley tried and failed to sell a cinema verite-style TV series tracking police officers on patrol. Then came the 1988 Hollywood writers strike.

“That’s when Fox bought `Cops,’ because a series with no narrator, no host, no script, no re-enactments sounded very good to them at the time,” recalled Langley, who just marked the show’s 700th episode.

The nearly five-month ’88 Writers Guild of America walkout that started in March didn’t unleash a flood of reality, because filming on sitcoms and dramas had largely wrapped and because alternative shows had yet to become a trend.

But the current WGA strike fell smack during production as well as the Age of Reality, putting the brakes on scripted shows and giving networks a quick fix for schedule holes. It remains to be seen how viewers – or the reality genre itself – will withstand the onslaught.

Networks have readied a slate of nearly 40 shows that are stacked up like jetliners over Christmas Eve runways awaiting the go-ahead to land. (more…)

The Art of Billboard Liberation Co-opted to Promote Art

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Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Publicity Stunts

Paint It Pink
November 28,2007
New York Post, Page Six

Calvin Klein New Museum AdCalvin Klein is destroying his own ad in the name of art. To help promote the Dec. 1 opening of the New Museum on the Bowery, Klein allowed the institution’s advertisers to drip oozing pink paint over his Houston Street billboard of Lara Stone and Jamie Burke wearing his jeans. The label, along with Julianne Moore and Maggie Gyllenhaal, will host an intimate soiree tonight at the museum, and the hot pink ooze will drip down the billboard until Monday.

Related links:

  • The New Museum and Calvin Klein Make a Splash, Gothamist
  • Calvin Klein x Droga 5 x The New Museum, JoshSpear.com
  • Reality TV: Exploitation Exposed

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Prank News

    So you wanna be on TV?

    CBS TV LogoMagic Molehill Productions and CBS TV are soliciting pranksters for a new reality TV show, tentatively called “Pranksters”. Here’s the casting call as seen on Backstage.com on November 8, 2007:

    Casting Call: ‘Pranksters’

    Magic Molehill Productions is casting Pranksters, a reality show in which comedians compete for a chance at their prank show. Lynne Spillman, casting dir., Cydney Kaplan, coord. Shoot starts Summer 2008 in L.A. Seeking–Comedian Pranksters: males and females, 18+, any ethnicity, pranks should be innovative, hilarious, and represent your comedic point of view.

    Send application and three pranks (on DVD or as email attachment) by Nov. 13 to Pranksters, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #1380, L.A., CA 90028 or email to pranksterstv@gmail.com

    I was contacted by one of the casting producers and asked to apply as a contestant for the show. They asked me to submit three pranks on DVD for consideration. Apparently, after an international search, they will narrow it down to eight pranksters who will be in competition with each other to perform a prank a week for eight weeks on camera. Supposedly a panel of “experts” will judge the “quality” of the prank. The prize is an unspecified amount of money and the possibility of your own show on CBS. All contestants have to be in LA for two months. Accommodations and an unspecified stipend are provided. They wanted to know if I am interested.

    I asked, “Do you know who I am and what my work is about?” I immediately began thinking about how to hoax them. I contacted my friend Dino D’Annibale to see if he would be willing to play me on the show for two months. Dino agreed to do it. (more…)

    Red Cross Guerrilla Advertising

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Publicity Stunts

    From Sawse: What do you think of when someone mentions the Red Cross? For some the name conjures images of the recent scandal over video games using their logo. Others might think of the various good works they do. Probably very few people think of the cool guerrilla advertising campaigns they have created to raise awareness of various key issues around the world. Here’s an example:


    Not Happening Here, but Happening Now: Somewhere in the world, buildings are collapsing, bombs are going off, people are dying. In short: things are very, very wrong. Especially in the US this might seem a world away but it is happening on the same planet.

    Red Cross Guerrilla Advertising

    To see more of the Red Cross’ guerrilla ad campaigns, visit Sawse.

    via WebUrbanist

    Shock and Awe?

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    0-200.jpgGo Ahead, Drop Those Drawers
    August 22, 2007

    Brattleboro, Vt. (AP) — Vermont’s clothing-optional capital is stripping off its temporary ban on public nudity.

    A month after passing the temporary ban, the Brattleboro Selectboard voted 3-2 on Tuesday to reject a proposed ordinance that would have made it permanent. When the emergency temporary ordinance expires next month, public nudity will no longer be illegal.

    It’s all about tolerance, one board member said.

    “We in this country are going down a slippery slope these days,” said Dora Bouboulis, noting a national newspaper recently published an article about the emergency ordinance under the headline “Tolerant town gets intolerant.”

    She said it wasn’t up to the town to restrict anyone’s right to dress or undress.

    Before the vote, residents weighed in on both sides of the debate.

    Michael Gauthier gave the Selectboard a petition with signatures of 967 people who support a nudity ban.

    “What is the point, other than shock and awe, that the nudists are trying to make?” he asked.

    Photo: Cleveland Scene Blogs

    Flash Mob Marketing: Culture Jamming Co-Opted

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking, Pranksters, Publicity Stunts

    [Editor’s Note: The below link has some factual errors. The photo of the No-Pants mission in London is actually of Charlie Todd’s Improv Everywhere event in NYC, and the Best Buy event took place at Target in 2006, not 2007.]


    From 1 Million 1 Shot, August 2, 2007:

    Flash Mobs, Culture Jams, and other Impromptu Rallies

    On January 13, 2007, over 300 people participated in the largest No-Pants mission that invaded the London’s Underground, for no other purpose than to freak other riders out. They rallied using text messages.

    flashmob3jpg.jpg

    In San Francisco on Valentine’s Day of 2007, a group of 4,000 individuals, split into two groups wielding pillows, and lined up across from another in a Braveheart-like scenario. As the clock struck 6 o’clock the two groups ran full speed at one another, and proceeded to pillow fight for over an hour. Attendees were informed of the location and time via a website, through texts messages, and countless emails.

    flashmob2jpg.jpg

    (more…)

    Calling All Aliens

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Publicity Stunts

    Photo Credit: By Mark Wilson — Roswell Daily Record Via Associated PressAt Roswell Festival, Doubt Is an Alien Concept
    by William Booth
    Washington Post
    July 8, 2007

    Roswell, N.M. — Attention, all aliens. Come on down. Because, seriously, this is your crowd. About 50,000 of your closest admirers are expected this weekend for the Roswell UFO Festival, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the nearby crash landing of a flying saucer — and, naturally, the ensuing government coverup.

    A weather balloon? Please. We are not fools.

    At least that’s the thinking here. Not up on the latest ufology? The debate today is all about “disclosure,” meaning not if, but when. When is the government finally going to open its top-secret files to reveal its voluminous data on the sightings, abductions and close encounters dating back to at least July 5, 1947. “The anomalies.” Here in the desert Southwest. And probably Mars. Read the rest of this story here.

    The Graffiti Project on Kelburn Castle

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Publicity Stunts

    From thegraffitiproject.net about a project recently completed in Scotland:

    kelburn.jpg

    “Kelburn is prominently located on the west coast of Scotland, 35 miles west of Glasgow, overlooking the sea. Parts of the building are in need of repair, but funds have recently been secured to begin an extensive restoration, that includes the removal of the external render, allowing the opportunity to use the present surface as a vast temporary canvas…

    “We are bringing together four of the world’s leading graffiti artists from Brazil to create a unique burst of colour, embracing the walls and turrets of the south side of Kelburn Castle and the castle grounds. On a traditional typecast building, this bold and striking artistic statement will hopefully receive positive media attention, whilst challenging the public’s understanding of both urban graffiti art and the British institution the building represents. It is a project that bridges between rural and urban realms and unites two proud and very different cultures.”

    Watch the project evolve:

    via Davidairey

    Pass the Jam

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Culture Jamming and Reality Hacking

    A new book about culture jamming:

    OurSpace: Resisting the Corporate Control of Culture
    by Christine Harold

    41b4gkr8rnl_aa240_.jpgWhen reporters asked about the Bush administration’s timing in making their case for the Iraq war, then Chief of Staff Andrew Card responded that “from an marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” While surprising only in its candor, this statement signified the extent to which consumer culture has pervaded every aspect of life. For those troubled by the long reach of the marketplace, resistance can seem futile. However, a new generation of progressive activists has begun to combat the media supremacy of multinational corporations by using the very tools and techniques employed by their adversaries.

    In OurSpace, Christine Harold examines the deployment and limitations of “culture jamming” by activists. These techniques defy repressive corporate culture through parodies, hoaxes, and pranks. Among the examples of sabotage she analyzes are the magazine Adbusters’ spoofs of familiar ads and the Yes Men’s impersonations of company spokespersons. (more…)

    It’s a virtual minefield

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    http://blogs.electricsheepcompany.com/giff/wp-content/uploads/2006/10/nissan-vendor.jpgOutFront: Sex, Pranks and Reality
    by Allison Fass
    Forbes.com
    July 2, 2007

    Second Life’s virtual Web world can be a weird, chancy place for real-life brands.

    In April a helicopter crashed into a Nissan building, starting a fire that left a couple of dead bodies. The explosion took place on Altima Island in Second Life, a Web fantasy world where users create customized, cartoonlike characters called avatars. The crash, whether an accident or an intentional prank, wasn’t exactly an image-enhancing moment for a carmaker. Nissan’s online reps cleaned up the virtual mess, coffins and all.

    Marketers have flocked to Second Life since it went live in 2003. Coca-Cola, H&R Block, IBM and Toyota are among 80 companies that have set up a virtual presence there to capture eyeballs–Second Life boasts a population of 7.1 million registered users–and experiment with online branding. It’s cheap: Linden Lab, the site’s creator, charges $1,675 plus $295 a month to occupy an island. Visitors pay nothing.

    But this leasehold doesn’t fence out troublemakers. It turns out that avatars seem more interested in having sex and hatching pranks than spending time warming up to real-world brands. “There is nothing to do in Second Life except, pardon my bluntness, try to get laid,” blogged David Churbuck, Web-marketing vice president for computer maker Lenovo. (Lenovo isn’t represented on Second Life.) (more…)

    Burning Man burning-out?

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...)

    Article from Mother Jones, May/June 2007:

    burnt_by_the_man_175×282.jpgBurnt By The Man
    News: How copyrighting, capitalism, and lawsuit chaos disturbed the radical utopia of Burning Man.

    By Josh Harkinson
    Mother Jones
    May/June 2007 Issue

    They all burned the Man. The punk bicyclists, the drunk faeries, the people painted blue. So splendidly did Larry Harvey’s 40-foot wooden hominid burst into flame that he and his friend John Law burned the Man again, each and every year since 1986, until everybody involved—last year, nearly 40,000 of them—simply became known as Burners. And the Burners built a Bedouin arts community called Black Rock City in the Nevada desert: a tent metropolis with its own “gift economy” that banned all commerce and its own government complete with a Department of Public Works. In short, they made a new Man—though maybe not a better one.

    “I think it’s something that needs to be skewered and mocked,” says Law, Burning Man’s cofounder. He quit running Burning Man a decade ago, but not before he and Harvey began selling expensive tickets to the event (last year they went for up to $350), trademarked and split ownership of the Burning Man name, and licensed it to Black Rock City llc, a for-profit, limited liability corporation run by Harvey. Law believes the corporation has become unaccountable, so he’s challenging Harvey’s oversight in a California court—quite literally putting the fate of Burning Man in the hands of “the Man.” (more…)

    To tag or not to tag, that is the question

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...)

    www.teako170.comFrom Medill Reports Chicago: Street art has moved not just to the art world, but to the world of everyday consumption

    It’s not the car, it’s the graffiti selling it
    by Phillip Kaplan
    May 16, 2007

    Graffiti and advertising are kind of like cops and robbers: eerily similar to each other yet at complete opposition.

    Members of each group cross into the other with the each group usually condemning the other’s action, but sometimes covertly encouraging it. Each has a righteousness of rhetoric, and the perspective of which is “right” or “wrong” depends on what turns you on — getting over authority or getting “bad” guys.

    While advertising is meant to inform people, graffiti writing often addresses only those who can decode it.

    But the advertising industry seems to think there are enough decoders out there to cater to, perhaps thinking if someone stares at some graffiti to find out the name of the artist who did it, what’s the difference if the name spells Honda? (more…)

    Madison Avenue goes guerilla

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    Filed under: Co-option (If You Can't Beat 'Em...), Hype, Legal Issues

    News Analysis: Boston Bomb Hoax Scares Up More Guerrilla Business
    May 14, 2007
    By Becky Ebenkamp
    Brandweek

    A $2 million fine and Senate bill can’t cage envelope-pushing efforts.

    mooninites.jpg“Now more than ever!” is the rallying cry for guerrilla marketers three months after a misunderstanding over a stealthy street stunt promoting Cartoon Network’s Aqua Teen Hunger Force brewed a Boston bomb scare.

    Some marketing agencies say the headline-making hoax has actually increased business despite a bill making its way through the Senate that would impose harsher punishments should such a hoax happen again.

    Early reports after the Jan. 31 hysteria had many speculating marketers would steer clear of this big-bang/small bucks school of buzz building. After all, Cartoon Network gm/evp Jim Samples resigned; parent company Turner Broadcasting and guerrilla agency Interference agreed to pay $1 million in compensation to Massachusetts and another $1 million to support federal homeland security.

    “The smarter clients I spoke to [realized] that a $2 million fine equals $120 million in publicity,” said Peter Shankman, president of New York-based pr/marketing agency The Geek Factory. “They said, ‘Just get the damn permits first!'” (more…)