The Latest Advertising Scam: The Pop-Up Billboard


Experts tell us that the average American consumer is exposed to 3,000 advertising messages per day. Does it sometimes drive you crazy? Popping up all over your computer, crowding out the content, repeatedly interrupting your favorite TV show, in sheets handed out by shills on the corners, bombarding your every step with inane and trivial drivel. And admen lurking in dark rooms are inventing new ways to turn your brain to mush and lower your attention span to — zero. Here is their latest nefarious plan.

Last night at the corner of Bleecker Street and Seventh Avenue South I spotted an anonymous SUV of indeterminate make pulled over to the side. A guy sat in the front seat texting by streetlight. Across the avenue from him was a new billboard — for the world’s worst beer, Heineken, so skunky smelling it can trigger a gag reflex — on the wall of a building. The billboard was kind of faint, though, and every time a car passed in the closest lane, the billboard flickered a bit.

Indeed, as I looked up at the billboard and then down at the guy sitting in the car, I realized that a slide projector in the backseat was shooting a beam of light like the Bat Signal up onto the wall. It was a pop-up billboard. And I suspected no one was paying anything for it.

Can we soon expect no building in town to be unbesmirched by an advertising message? Will the Empire State Building soon be turned into a commercial for — Viagra?

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