April 19, 2008
Someone To Watch Over Me: Outdoor Advertising on Houston Street (A Slideshow)
I walk along or cross Houston Street almost every day, and I find it hard not to notice the outdoor advertising placed along the exterior street-facing walls of the buildings. These mega-size ads have become part of the visual culture of the contemporary megacity's landscape, insinuating themselves into the edges of our consumer desires. I like to think myself immune from such displays, but I caught myself this morning desiring a white dress shirt. Hmmm...Where did that come from? Let me see...er, Gap ad?
The ads along Houston are meant for a couple of consumer groups. Houston is a busy street for automobiles, and so the ads work for drivers zooming by. Pedestrians also would pass by these looming images while crossing south into SoHo's shopping mecca. The scale of these ads is impressive, for sure. Four- and five-story ads make for gigantic looming figures.
Sometimes the ads spoof the conventions of fashion modeling. The frog in the LifeWater ad poses like a fashion model, recalling comedian Sarah Silverman's mocking pose for Gap (which not long ago was where the new Phillip Lim Gap ad is sited).
Some news here. The DKNY September 11 ad, a familiar icon, may be in jeopardy. Recently, the building was sold to Abercrombie & Fitch for a 40,000 square-foot store, and the retailer may want the wall for its own advertising. Another ad here, the one with a baby and sponsored by a real estate broker, is south of Houston, on Lafayette. In that last image for Grand Theft Auto, that bright wall below is artwork by Keith Haring. The Diane Von Furstenberg girl/woman is looking very Les Miserables.