Outdoor Advertising = Graffiti

Our children observe a world filled with advertising and emulate it in their graffiti. Are they responsible for not understanding that only certain people can dump branding on certain walls? Advertising is branding and expression of the company. Graffiti is self-branding and self-expression of the individual. Does that make it wrong?

Osaka advertising wall (foto by randomlogik)

Monkey See.

Melbourne Alleyways graffiti(foto by Gary Hayes)

Monkey Do.

If we don’t want the next generation to grow up mimicking us, we have to change our behaviours. Put glowing, self promotional garbage up on the walls, expect glowing, self promotional garbage to cover it. I know how hard it is to remove graffiti, even if you have a top shelf pressure washer from ToolsMaestro.com, this is why we need to address it at the root and change the game not the player.

And when it comes to online, it only increases. We will pay for those ads we have inflicted on our children since the late ’70s. How many millions of ads do you think they have seen? Ethical, informative advertising and information is one thing; spam graffiti banners and neons another. Let’s not even get started on the rubbish we mimic from TV and newspapers and magazines. Celebrity blogs are popular because we learned everything we know about media creation from New Idea and Who Weekly.

Intriguing that councils are allowing graffiti walls in their domain now. I guess when you hired out public space for billboards and wall posters, to those that could afford it, you have to offer something to the community who are learning to become content creators and broadcasters.

I wonder what would’ve happened if we had put ‘art’ restrictions on banners and wall posters. Hung the equivalent of Michaelangelo and Van Gogh in public spaces? Beautiful environments that our teens could emulate? Or at least one’s that excite the public discussion “that’s not art! take it down! ” “yes it is, leave it up!”. When did we learn to become so dis-engaged from the world we are co-creating? Though I agree, some ads are beautiful, and traverse both art and advertising. Not Ken Done though. Heh.

Laurel Papworth

Named by Forbes™ Magazine in the Top 50 Social Media Influencers globally, named Head of Industry, Social Media (Marketing Magazine™) and in the Power150 Media bloggers (AdAge™). CERT IV Training and Assessment certified trainer (Diplomas and Certificates etc) Adult Education. Laurel has manager Facebook Pages for Junior Masterchef, Idol, Big Brother etc. and have consulted on private online communities for banks Westpac, not for profits UNHCR & governments in SE Asia. Lecturer, social media, University of Sydney for 10 years and Laurel has 11,000 online students. Laurel Papworth personally connects to 6 million followers online and has taught around 100,000 people in the last 10 years how to be social media managers.

9 thoughts on “Outdoor Advertising = Graffiti

  1. Yes it is interesting that councils are allowing graffiti areas…though you wonder if street artists will bite, as it sort of knocks a lot of the point of graffiti in the first place.

    Also interesting though is companies giving over their wall space to local artists.

    Here in London’s East End (well, for one mor week), a local estate agent gave over their wall to a street artist called Pure Evil:


  2. WOW! once again you have opened my eyes to a great POV. I would love to hear more on this.

    Did I miss something with Ken Done reference?

  3. Hi Julian, lovely to meet you the other night 🙂
    Oh, y’know, Ken Done is a celebrity commercial artist whose ‘art’ adorns everything from tea towels and coasters to the Sydney Olympic logo. We all overdose on Ken Done every so often when he comes in and out of fashion. Art as advertisement for his shops in tourist towns, I guess.
    He’s the Rolf Harris of the Aussie art world, bless. 🙂

  4. Love the way you said it, and showed it. And agree about the lack of quality of on line advertising. But I don’t buy the monkey see monkey do argument. Otherwise you can also say, kids watch video games and are therefore violent; or any of these sorts of arguments that ‘diss’ the basic smarts of the ‘next generation’ to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong. I not so sure about art and not art either. After all, I know of people who actually like Ken Done.

  5. yeah I went for an overly simple argument. I don’t believe that we ‘in a simplistic’ way simply copy violent games etc.

    But I do believe we learn our writing skills, our broadcast mechanisms and – offline – our communication methods from TV and radio and the environment. Its much more ingrained than simply playing violent games. Though I will say that being repeatedly magestriked in WoW makes me homicidal. 🙂

    I want the arguments about what is art. We don’t get that with billboard ads. And yes that’s why I picked Ken Done – I could’ve chose Pollock or that porn artist, Jeff Koons, to start a discussion on ‘what is art’ vs ‘what is self brand promotion’. But Ken Done is the Master of Art as Brand. I give him full credit for that!

    At least the Gruen Transfer is reengaging these discussions at a grassroots level about culture, symbols, rituals and meaning in our advertising world. 🙂

  6. So, ok,
    “Outdoor Advertising = Graffiti”,
    but what about in the online space:
    “banner adverts = blog widgets”?
    Looking at this blogpost, I see no banner ads (good), but an overload of widgets: Technorati, YouTube, MyBlogLog, Facebook, Google translate, Digg, GetWidget, Labels/tags (and oh, I just found a Google text ad, but why bother down there?).
    Could you not compare these widgets to graffiti? It’s a way of self-expression and self-branding, of course on your own public online space (not someone elses).

    Just a thought.


  7. People learn by what they see others doing, case in point being serious xyz is xyz that everyone else takes seriously.

    So tabloid journalisme becaomes the Serious journalism, Advertising becomes the new Art (whether graffiti == art does depend on your point of view). Yes, there is cheap nasty advertising, but there's also cheap nasty 'art' (velvet Elvis, anyone ?). The graffiti equivalent is tagging.

    But there's also great art in Advertising (wait, I'll think of one soon…) to match your Pollocks &tc, and (in some peoples eyes) there's graffiti to match.

    As for art itself… It will always be shaped by what the artist is immersed in, what they’re familair with. For most people, todays’ artists are the photographers and musicains.

    What i want to know is will we be able to tell the difference between PC and MAC art (like watercolour v Oil) ?

    PS Jeff Koons – when did he become a pron artist ? I used to walk past the giant puppy he put together next to Circular key years ago.

  8. @jj halans, this whole blog is a promotional piece of fluff, you sillybilly 😛 And absolutely widgets are ads, though information ads not ‘ad’ ads I hope. The google text ad was because I wanted to see how it worked, hence shoved down beneath the fold.

    @mgef we have lost the power to distinguish between appropriate symbolism and product placement. I also discovered that if you want to have people believe an ad is information, put a cheaper ad next to it. Next time you pick up a magazine with advertorials – such as fashion – check the ‘ads’ next to the ‘text’. Layering really does the trick in drawing the eye away from the obvious ad to the hidden one. And yeah there are great art ads. But advertising is not in the business of providing art is it? Or entertainment.

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