The Ugly Side of Urban Marketing

Reporter Gets a Beat-down at Hands of Rocko's Team

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Let it be known that unless it's a chimpanzee poster for "Escape to Chimp Eden," I'm not a big fan of urban ad campaigns using postering, papering or graffiti -- or, as those who try to hard like to call it, "street art." Not only are these efforts usually ugly, but they can get pretty expensive when the city starts enforcing fines (just ask Microsoft). But I'm also resigned to these facts: it's a cheap, easy way to advertiser your goods in a city; the city usually doesn't enforce fines for these efforts; such efforts, if done right, can lend a bit of street cred to your product; and, like scaffolding, pigeons and crazy people, these efforts are simply part of city living. But when the New York Times' David Dunlap noticed some papering going down while he was on assignment, decided to do something about it.

Dunlap was beaten down by poster-hangers in Manhattan recently as he tried to take photos of them going about their work of plastering the city with posters for Rocko's new album.

While this sort of thing might be good for album sales, it's just not proper behavior in polite society. And while I understand it's difficult for a company to control all of its employees, this is beyond the pale. Island Def Jam told Dunlap that it doesn't do any more poster campaigns. Rocko's management company hasn't replied to Dunlap's calls.

But as much as I should side with Dunlap, I have an issue with the post. I'm sort of surprised this paragraph made it through: "He did not take my wallet, cash or briefcase; something he could easily have done while I was on the ground. Nor do I recall him using much more force than was needed to wrest the camera from me. He didn't kick me gratuitously when I was down. He did what he threatened to do, but no more."

You know, because everyone putting up hip-hop posters is a mugger. There's a huge distinction between someone who's whipping your ass because he's upset with you and someone who's out to, you know, rob you. Maybe I'm getting caught up in microanalysis, but that's the sort of phrasing that can take a potentially great story about the excesses of the hip-hop culture* and turn the focus onto the sheltered stereotypical view of a Times reporter (maybe he's related to Obama's grandmother!).

*Of course, even that argument might be a weak one, as I can easily picture people from across many cultures -- Redneck, Italian, Irish, Hollywood -- going rogue bear against a reporter with a camera.
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