billboard trucks

In the last two days I have seen four trucks and six scooters, each towing a billboard down the street. I really hate those things.

I can almost see the boardroom meeting in some lower circle of Hell where they came up with that idea:

Belphegor:   I've got a new project, guys, you're going to love it. Advertisements... on cars!
Samael:   Oh, I like it! You mean like ads on the sides of trucks? That fits in with Mammon's general policy of covering every flat surface with incitements of greed.
Belphegor:   No, no, even better than that! We're not going to put the ads on vehicles that were there already: these ads will just be driving around, very slowly, solely to show the ads! They don't have a destination or passengers or freight, just the ads!
Astaroth:   Oh, that's brilliant! It's like you're plastering an ad on the air! Not only does the advertising itself increase the cognitive toxins, but it also increases traffic, depletes global oil reserves, and destroys the environment!
Belphegor:   Now you've got it. And don't forget the smell and the noise!
Mammon:   << spurt spurt spurt spurt spurt >>
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54 Responses:

  1. I saw those billboard things being towed by recumbent tricycles in Paris recently. They were pretty cool, although it's a little crazy to be riding a human-powered vehicle which places your body at tire-level in Paris.

  2. tongodeon says:

    I hate those things for purely Libertarian reasons. Streets are public space. Stationary billboards are at least private property. I resent that I'm paying for the streets and traffic lights and traffic cops so that trucks can further clog the most traffic and pedestrian-filled streets in our city.

  3. ammonoid says:

    At some point during the boom I remember got a boat and put a floating billboard in the bay next to 101 where it goes past San Bruno mountain.

    • michael jackson floated a giant statue of himself down the Thames river when HIStory came out.

      • ammonoid says:

        Thats just....really tacky. And gives me the creeps.

        • quercus says:

          Why is Johnny Depp playing Willy Wonka made up exactly as Michael Jackson?!

          Now that just has to be the scariest Tim Burton movie yet. Half-a-dozen children and one of them gets to be "chosen" by Jacko. Eeeeuuuww....

          • ammonoid says:

            I'm glad someone else noticed. Watching the previews totally creeped me out. Though I suppose Wonka as scary-child-molester works as a premise for a movie.

    • malokai says:

      Nike did this with a barge yesterday, but they put dark green text on a black background, and I couldn't read the end of the ad from a kilometer away.

    • cetan says:

      When United announced their low-cost "Ted" they gussied up a barge and had a tug push it up and down the Chicago River for a week. Then they parked it somewhere near the Tribune Building or NBC and sent 20-somethings out to convince everyone Ted was hip.

      I'm pretty sure the 20-somethings were all undergoing electroshock on the barge for that week. The way they swarmed over the area was just creepy...

  4. bodyfour says:

    I'm always confused by them. On one hand you hear about how the advertising market is suffering... but then how could these vehicles possibly be making money?

  5. nester says:

    We have Admobile here, I am not impressed either. Coming to your town soon, I'm sure!

  6. fuzzyjay says:

    But your post is funny.

  7. Makes me think of Bill Hick's "Artistic Roll-Call" bit, one of the better pieces of humor to feature advertising and Satan's cock.

  8. phs says:

    The << spurt spurt spurt ... >> is a horrible, horrible work of genius.

  9. lars_larsen says:

    Around here they dont drive them around, at least thats not the intention. They park them in parking lots in view of major highways. Until the owner of the parking lot finds out and kicks em out, at which point they move on to another parking lot.

    After all, why waste money on gas when you can make EVERYONE ELSE waste money on gas to drive past your monstrosity.

    I think we've gotten rid of them by now though. We have a law banning all billboards in my town, self-propelled or otherwise.

  10. I've seen this bad boy on my trip to Japan:

  11. jurph says:

    This makes me want to retch -- they are actively targeting the places with the heaviest traffic!!

    I have to commute on US-29, which tapers to three lanes. The right lane is useless because of buses, and I just saw one of these monstrosities on US-29 in the center lane driving like a three-legged blindfolded panda with an inner ear disorder and mild brain damage. I suspect it won't be very long until Montgomery County outlaws this crap. I might have to carry a can of spray paint in my trunk. Get out at a red light, throw a piece of cardboard over my plates, spray "BORF" or "DON'T BUY FROM ASSHATS" on the billboard, and go.

    Saddest thought ever: somebody drives these things for a living! "Yeah, I'd like to be a truck driver, but instead of being in a comfortable 18-wheeler on the interstates, I'd prefer to be in a cramped box truck cab during rush hour."

  12. These bothered me enough to begin with, but just the other day I biked by one advertising it's use of ALTERNATIVE FUELS. There's a little thing I like to call missing the point. Entirely.

  13. thornyc says:

    Towed billboards are so 1998. Here in NYC we've actually gotten towed 3-D dioramas, such as a new model of a car inside a glass case, lit up at night, or a giant bottle of vodka (also in a lighted glass case) endlessly spewing confetti iside, or even live actors portraying enjoying a new wine, like some fucking Thanksgiving Day Parade float.

    Every time I see a new venue that had never had advertising where some idiot thought to put some, a little part of me dies. Recent horrible examples were tiny little stickers on pieces of fruit, advertising some forthcomig crappy movie, and the undulating airport baggage carosels that had been vinyl wrapped just like they do to buses these days. Probably the worst are ad banners that are now towed back and forth at beaches by small planes on summer days -- is nothing sacred?!?!! (I have to say I don't mind the ads that have popped up over the urinals in restaurant bathrooms, as it gives me something to look at other than stained tiles for 15 seconds while peeing, although I always preferred the "classy" joints that would post the front page of that day's newspaper.)

    There have been several cities that have successfully banned towed ads. You should complain heavily to your local government. And writing any company that you see advertising in this manner, saying you thoroughly object to this method of advertising and will never buy their product again, might even help. I can't help but hope that if a company got a couple dozen letters like this, it would rethink where and how it spends its advertising budget.

    • tfofurn says:

      Small planes towing banners goes way back. I remember that on the beaches of Ocean City MD back in the early 1980s. I'm sure the quality of the banners has improved tremendously in the intervening decades.

      In case you missed it, there was yet another way to advertise at the beach that came out two years ago.

      • ckn says:

        ...they were doing this in the 1970s at various NJ, MD, and DE beaches, one of my earliest beach memories is from rehoboth around '76 and seeing a bi-plane towing one of those eye-sores...

        • ammonoid says:

          According to my brother (who is a pilot) towing those things is really dangerous, especially on take-off and landing. Yay advertising.

          I've seen a bunch of those planes towing banners around 880 in the AM.

    • cetan says:

      To celebrate it's opening in Chicago, the hotel chain "W" got a flatbed truck and put most of a hotel room on it (chairs, dresser, tv, bed, etc). Then they covered the whole thing with a plexiglas box. Oh, and there were two women inside wearing bathing suits.

      They drove around the downtown for at least a day waving to people.

  14. dcdan says: I've been putting these up whenever I see ads that I can cover.

  15. Melbourne is full of those; with everything from Vespa scooters to semi-trailers employed to lug billboards down busy streets (usually the "lifestyle precincts" full of cafes and boutiques and teeming with disposable income). Usually in flotillas of 3, because we all know that if consumers see 3 truck-mounted billboards with bikini-clad women advertising beer or gambling chugging down the road in formation, they're more likely to buy.

    I haven't seen any since moving to London.

  16. edlang says:

    I wonder how many people have tagged these billboards. None of the ones I've seen in Canberra, Sydney or Melbourne have gone faster than walking pace, so it wouldn't be hard to scrawl'n'walk in sync with them.

  17. crypticreign says:

    I saw this once last year on Newburry St in Boston. A truck with a huge lit up sign in tow, probably around 9 pm on a Friday (maybe it was Saturday).

    I also remember two jackasses that were walking in front of me turn around and run to the moving truck, and jump on said sign in tow.

    Watching them fall off and roll down the street was hillarious.

  18. Lately, I've seen a fleet of 2-3 Annoying New Beetles that drive slowly around Washington Square Park. They're painted white with some company's logo endlessly repeating over them. It's a lizard. How I long for a projectile weapon just powerful enough to take out headlights.

  19. fantasygoat says:

    Does DNA have those ads above the urinals?

    • jwz says:

      Fuck no. Just taggers' fancy little pirate names carved into the tiles.

      Much to the dismay of my employees who have to actually negotiate with our distributors, I'm relentlessly anti-advertising here. They're always trying to give us things like "free" napkins and cups that have someone's logo on them, or refrigerators or mobile bars with giant light-up logos. The only advertising we have in here are the displays of products we actually sell, e.g., the bottles on the shelf behind the bar.

      Sometimes it's hard to prevent the promoters of various events from pimping their souls away and hanging logos of their various "co-promoters" (which usually means nothing more than, "they gave us money to hang their banner".)

      • fantasygoat says:

        Yeah, the banners and coasters and shit annoy me, but for some reason the urinal ads don't bother me as much, since it sort of gives the guys something to look at, at least.

        That reminds me, I need to go back over your old DNA archive to find all the bullshit you encountered building the place so I can plan to avoid the same pitfalls.

      • Can you demand money from them to put their ad-junk around your club? Not to actually do it, but just to piss in the face of the notion that free crap with advertising on it is some heavenly gift.

        • jwz says:

          Well, it is money, in that those are napkins and cups that we'd otherwise have to buy. But fuck them.

      • quercus says:

        Get some urinals branded with "Sun", "IBM" and "M$oft".

        Your devoted geek following would buy more beer, just for the privilege of pissing on their favourite target.

        • Does jwz's geek following actually patronise the DNA lounge? Isn't it true that jwz's major income is now from drunken non-geeks coming to ogle at and pogo to deejays?

          If they were my urinals, I wouldn't want to do anything that might stimulate the patrons' destructive urges.

  20. malokai says:

    Downtown vancouver doesn't let these fuckheads do this. Occasionally one of their drivers'll get cocky and try it, but I haven't seen it for a few months.

    subway still flies planes all over the place though.

  21. roninspoon says:

    Everytime I see those I feel sorry for the minimum wage dude driving those things. I can't stand driving from work to home, and I can't imagine who miserable it must be to do it for a living, at the busiest part of the day and in the most congested areas. It would drive me nuts.

    Incidently, I've seen a few around Vegas that have replaced the static billboard type sign with large rear projection screens and/or LCD monitors that show video commercials. They're exceptionally distracting, especially in the evening when the brightness of the screens is almost blinding.

    • taffer says:

      ... and the ad company buys some body shops, starts raking in extra cash from the up-swing in accidents...

    • kaneda_khan says:

      I suppose once you take away the stress of trying to get somewhere in the shortest time, you're left with a factory job that includes scenery.

      They have a couple animated billboards south of Seattle, too. I have to wonder how many extra accidents we've had, given that drunks are known for running down bikers at night because they're mesmerized by the blinking red light.

    • quercus says:

      Everytime I see those I feel sorry for the minimum wage dude driving those things.

      I work in Bath: half Roman theme park full of French teenagers, half normal town where people work in offices and do everyday shit. We have minimum-wage student-types paid to sit in deckchairs all day, holding up a sign advertising the Sony shop, the Jane Austen rollercoaster ride, or a wide range of language schools.

  22. recursive says:

    I admire the cleverness, both of putting advertising where it wouldn't be, and getting around regulations (e.g. places where huge billboards might not have been allowed to be erected).

    But on the other hand, I loathe the uglyness.

  23. fgmr says:

    A couple years ago I had to go to fry's to pick something up. The parking lot at the palo alto frys was, as usual, a nightmare. What didn't help at all was one of these trucks, driving around and around the parking lot, in and out, showing off his sign.

    It was a Google recruiting ad. I was ill.

  24. fgmr says:

    Oh, and another idiotic one: a panel truck, with the back end covered in an animated LED screen showing ads. I wasn't watching it, I was watching traffic, until it scrolled from one ad to another -- upwards. From the corner of my eye, it looked for all the world like a roll-up door coming unlocked and rolling up; for a second I thought the entire load of cargo was about to go spilling onto the freeway.

    Great, you got my eyeballs, asshole. Someone should run him off the road before innocent people get hurt.

  25. gytterberg says:

    In Boston they've got these ads in the subway now. Not in the cars themselves, but in the tunnels. They're really long installations of still images set up like a flip-book animation, so it looks like there's a long line of glowing, flickery TVs outside the window zipping by.
    As much as it's a facet of the relentless march of advertising into new territory, it's actually a cute idea. The very first one was for Target, and it was bright red and shot with some interesting camera tricks that really complemented the flickeryness. The newest, however, is for the new Hummer (On the fucking subway! Grr.), which is enough to cause eye-rolling, but it's done up in such washed out colors (might even be pure greyscale, not sure), that if it wasn't for the movement in the corner of your eye you wouldn't even notice it there. It just blends in with the grime on the windows and the tunnel walls.

  26. tregoweth says:

    Did anyone else get stuck behind one of the "abortion trucks" when they were roaming the land?

    • That may be one of the most disturbing ideas, ever.

      Pro-life psychos used to hang out with huge signs outside my High School when I was younger. They were holding huge images of aborted babies.

      They left when a bunch of students tried to hit them with cars some of them ran out there to have words.

      One high school student is scary, 30 or 40 is a good reason to run.

  27. tiff_seattle says:

    I used to feel the same way about ads on the top of taxi cabs. I remember when I moved to NYC back in 1990, and seeing those little ad things on top of the cars. By the time I moved back to Seattle they were commonplace there as well.

  28. You can be damn sure that if they show up here, I'll be fighting it.

  29. arono says:

    Those piss me off too.

    Yesterday I witnessed a whole new level of ad evil here in Vancouver. It was a beautiful, warm day, and I was on the city's largest and busiest beach. (I guess I was feeling a little masochistic.) Gliding into the bay came a tugboat towing a barge with an enormous Nike billboard. Unbelievable. Even our sea views are under attack.