They say that no publicity is bad publicity and in today’s marketplace of businesses attempting to get attention by any means necessary, we are seeing more and more companies willing to cross the line between marketing and bad taste in order to get a rise out of anyone who bears witness to their tactics. The most recent company to follow suit with this approach is apparently Twitter, raising concerns from both residents and city council members in Los Angeles and San Francisco alike in their recent move.
The Banksy style approach, used to spray paint their advertisements across various buildings, infrastructure and other such locations, have skirted the line from marketing into pure vandalism. With quotes taken from their platform, carefully re-created on public property and made to look as though they’ve been integrated in that location for a period of time, the idea itself needed to be called into question long before it was ever put into place. This not only sends an incorrect message when it comes to advertising but also as acceptable behavior for the billions of members who take part on their platform.
The biggest concern that this raises when looking at it from an outside perspective is the disparity in punishment that large-scale corporations such as Twitter face versus those of everyday citizens. Being slapped with a fine of a few thousand dollars can be detrimental to normal individuals who carry out the act of graffiti, yet when these approaches are carried out by large businesses, it’s barely beyond pocket change. This imbalance in approach makes it seem as though the only risk that these companies face is potential negative press, which is only served as a benefit over the last few years.
We are continually seeing companies of all types take bigger and larger risks in their advertising approaches, sometimes depending on a negative reaction in order to boost viewership and interaction between the companies and those who may not be engaged in their product. The level of punishment that companies face is relatively low, leading to a lack of true consequences for their actions. Ultimately, it’s an almost fruitless effort to even try and implement a deterrent in order to keep any type of fear in place when it comes to stepping over the boundaries of the legality in favor of visibility.
This not only affects individuals across the San Francisco and Los Angeles area when it comes to having their buildings defaced or having a criminal action carried out with no worry of consequence but also demonstrates a lack of care for our surroundings, by so brazenly defacing property for simple Internet points. We should make more of an effort to ensure that these guerrilla tactics are not only unsuccessful but also serve as a detriment to the companies who choose to bring this type of approach to their advertising, regardless of the impact it makes on individuals or the cities themselves.