Here’s what I found at the train station in my little town in Connecticut today. It’s an ad for the Donald Trump line of clothing at Macy’s which has been, um, reworked by a passer by.
Actually, I think what we are looking at is an almost surgical intervention. The passer by has ever so carefully torn away the face of D. Trump on this advertisement, and on the surface beneath the original, they have drawn this effective Dorian Gray rendering of M. Trump.
Sure we can say that this is a rough rendering but I couldn’t help feeling that I had never seen the man so truly portrayed. The man himself, the man in full, the man unmasked that we might see him porcine in every nook and cranny
Here’s a closer look. We have seen ad interventions of this kind for some time. I believe Adbusters was advocating something like this, and kids were responding with enthusiasm. In Toronto in the 1990s, it was customary to pass jumbo, Jeff Wall sized ads that had been reworked with speech bubbles. Razer thin models would have bubbles that read, "Feed me." Happy parents were made to say, "Don’t make me buy anything more. Please."
Amateur stuff, really, and certain proof that brand hijack so completely misunderstood the powers of the "enemy," that finally there could be no contest. The bus shelter told the story: Capitalism 1. Adbusters 0.
But this work takes it to the enemy with skill and viserality, if that’s a word, and my spell checker tells me it is not. You know what I mean. What we are looking at here is an amazingly successful intervention, one that truly does hijack the ad and uses it most ferociously against the man.
Everything depends upon the skill of the intervention. badly done, it’s a prank. Done this well, it gives one’s pause, and M. Trump hooves.
We can imagine what Trump did to deserve this re-celebration. He has been annoying people since the 1980s and his days as a short fingered vulgarian in Spy Magazine. But I wonder if this is not the punishment that awaits the bully who dares speak ill of Rosie O’Donnell. Rosie has her fans. Her fans have their weapons. The war is on.
A very impressive example of ad-hijacking.
In London for a long time we had ‘coffin’ who used to wittily deface cigarette advertisements. I can’t find any references to him on the web… but there must be examples out there somewhere.
Later, I guess it was the 90s, we had a group who would change poster ads in the most subtle ways, using laser-printed A4 pages, perfectly matched to the fonts and colour background of the poster, to change the text. It was real double-take stuff, as it was hard to realise, if you were whizzing by in a car, say, that the poster had been tampered with. You were left with a ‘Did it really say that????’ moment it was very skillfully done.
At the other end of the grand spectrum of wit, cleverness and irony: in the underground there is a fad for sticking pieces of chewing gum on peoples noses 🙂
Grant, it looks like Lucien Freud paid a visit. I wonder if this kind of artful defacement doesn’t defeat its own purpose and call attention to a billboard ad that would otherwise go unnoticed and unremembered. Good grief, I’m also wondering if it’s possible that some creative directors are purposefully creating banal billboard and transit ads that lend themselves to such defacement — talented or otherwise — in the hopes that the add-on vandalism will draw attention to what would otherwise be invisible and as cerebrally arresting as outdoor wallpaper. But no, that’s surely not possible. Forget I said it.
Oops – correct spelling of the English portrait painter’s name is Lucian Freud.
If trump sees the ads, will he be angry? Can he sue the advertiser for giving him such an ugly face?