Text and photos by Jacqueline Lambiase
How much does an ad’s context matter? A gallery owner commissioned this mural in a small Texas town square to attract attention to his business, but the community erupted in protest, and this ad was ultimately censored. My theory is that slow attention doomed this advertisement—there were no competing visual images to help it hide in plain sight. (And it was also doomed by its producer not reckoning with its potential audience of small-town residents in a conservative part of the country.)
|A friend's photo from Pilot Point, Texas, near my own home prompted my own international street photography project spanning from 2003-2011. All other photos are mine.|
What happens when the context is crowded and cluttered? Rather than dooming potentially controversial advertising, clutter hides it from our most focused attention, diffusing any controversy or question or misunderstanding.
|From New York's Times Square, 2004.|
Intertextuality, when an ad symbol relies on other prior symbols for meaning, is a quite sophisticated way to appeal to moving consumers. In the London underground, Piglet moves from a children’s movie protagonist to penis, but this movement goes unnoticed in the underground world of too many ads.
|From London underground, 2003.|
In Brussels, an ad campaign for Gini seems fragmented across the landscape of train platforms, but packs a powerful message for a soft drink produced in France and Belgium and owned by Dr Pepper Snapple Group. A Texas-based parent company produces progressive and provocative adverts for Belgium, one of 13 nations with marriage equality (the company is based in a state which bans same-sex marriage).
|From Brussels, Belgium, train station, 2011.
|From Rome underground and just outside the Vatican, 2011.|
This summer, I'm in London, and I'll share more adverts from my street photography soon.