(Photo courtesy of Eric Dale)
If you’ve walked more than one (1) block in Center City Philadelphia this summer, you likely have this mantra tattooed on your brain: Barbera on the Boulevard has 300 Jeeps cheap.
That’s because Rhawnhurst auto dealership Barbera Autoland bought ad space on a whopping 375 Bigbelly trash cans across Philly. The Jeep dealer — also known for its old-timey jingle (“Is Barbera the best? Boy, I guess!”) — went with crass, big block lettering in street-sign yellow against a black backdrop.
They’re eyesores, a collective of Philly creators and marketers thought, so they banded together to transform 18 of the cans, mostly around Rittenhouse Square, into art displays from local talent.
“We’re intentional about how these ads will ultimately impact our community,” said Wingert, whose company purchased the ad space. “Brendan, Conrad and I see this as an opportunity to challenge all brands to be more conscious of not only what their message is, but how that message finds its way into the public eye.”
Those ads on the trash cans, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported, are part of a 10-year contract with Bigbelly in which the city paid nothing for the 275 updated cans in exchange for permission to sell advertising on them. The city gets a 5 percent cut of the revenue.
“Too often, instead of creating marketing messages which engage and inspire, brands just flat out shout at people,” Lowry said. “Barbera has been a culprit of this for years — literally with their radio spots and now figuratively with these trashcan ads.”
The former Curalate staffer, who left the company last year, said in an email that internet is at the core of the campaign — with Instagram account Peopledelphia, the Streets Dept. blog and the project’s own Instagram account.
For Benner, whose own photography lines one of the reworked trash cans at 17th and Walnut, art taking over public space can have an effect on the ways citizens think, feel and behave.
“What can happen when we replace ads with art? When we use our public spaces to center less on consumerism and more on the human experience?” Benner asked in a blog post. “I’m not sure, but I think they’re questions worth asking.”
Calls and an email sent to Barbera Autoland on Monday morning were not immediately responded to.
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