Soft drink giant PepsiCo has shot down reports that it plans to advertise in low Earth orbit (LEO), after reports surfaced last week in Futurism that the company was working on a “space billboard.” Using a small fleet of satellites armed with reflective mylar sails, the company was reportedly going to advertise a new drink called Adrenaline Rush, targeted to a “stereotyped” minority—gamers. Enter Russian company StartRocket, which has proposed using CubeSats—satellites that measure 4-inches-by-4-inches-by-4-inches—to create orbital billboards that would be visible all over the planet. The tiny satellites would be ferried into LEO via a rocket, and their solar panels and large mylar sails would unfold after the satellites were ejected from the main vessel. The CubeSats would then arrange themselves to form an image or message, and the “billboard” would be visible at dawn or dusk as they reflected sunlight. Although costs have been dropping and the same basic principles that StartRocket wants to build off of have been used for artistic purposes, no form of space-based advertising has ever been successfully deployed before. If the company can make its CubeSat system work, its floating advertisements would circle the Earth from approximately 250-to-310 miles away and would have a viewable surface area of about 19 square miles. On April 13, it seemed that Pepsi was going to be the first soda in space. A Russian PepsiCo spokesperson, Olga Mangova, told Futurism that the company had partnered with StartRocket and was working to create the advertising campaign of the future. Then, Pepsico made an abrupt about-face. “We can confirm StartRocket performed an exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements using the Adrenaline GameChangers logo,” a PepsiCo spokesperson told SpaceNews. “This was a one-time event; we have no further plans to test or commercially use this technology at this time.” However, as Futurism points out, this was likely an attempt by PepisCo to deflect criticism after the company came under heavy fire on social media over the proposal. A PepsiCo spokesperson "clarified" that there had been a translation error between the media and the company's Russian employees, and that they had been referring to a high-altitude balloon test earlier in April, not a future campaign. That wouldn't make sense, as Futurism had originally queried them over their future plans, and Mangova confirmed that they would be using an "orbital billboard"—distinctly different from a balloon. StartRocket were similarly unable to provide updated information on any ongoing, or past, PepsiCo collaborations. While no laws prohibit advertising in space in such a way that would be visible from Earth, it’s likely any real attempt to create an unavoidable billboard in the night sky would be met with pushback. Still, if it becomes cheap enough, the night sky could one day become home to airborne advertisements (but asteroid-anchored condo towers remain unlikely).
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A group of American manufacturers has developed a new strategy to get their message to President Trump. Knowing that the president regularly watches a handful of programs on Fox, a trade organization has bought airtime for 30-second ads during the president's favorite shows to promote the group's messages. Bloomberg reported on a campaign from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) that debuted this month and encourages Trump to follow through on his campaign promise to create a massive national infrastructure spending program. The ad plays a clip of Trump's campaign victory speech when he said, "We’re going to rebuild our infrastructure." Another AEM ad from earlier this year encouraged the president and congressional leaders to reject steel tariffs, saying that they would harm equipment manufacturers. The clips show blue-collar workers speaking directly to the camera, often explicitly addressing the president. The steel tariff ad begins with a worker saying, "Mr. President, thanks to you, equipment manufacturing right here in Illinois is growing stronger." After a bit more ego-boosting, the workers then say that tariffs would undo the support that the president has shown industrial workers. Trump is known to be an avid television-watcher and reportedly insists on watching several Fox programs every day. The spots will run during programs like Fox and Friends, The Sean Hannity Show, and Tucker Carlson Tonight. According to Bloomberg, AEM plans to spend $250,000 on the infrastructure campaign.
The artist whose name is linked inextricably to screen prints of Marilyn Monroe and the Campbell’s soup can also had a fruitful career in feature films, producing Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein and Chelsea Girls. As part of the Midnight Moments series, Times Square will run screen tests by Andy Warhol on its billboards to replace its million-dollar neon advertising—for a fleeting three minutes a day, anyway. The footage of Warhol’s piercingly personal screen tests with friends and celebrity guests will appear each night from 11:57p.m.–12:00a.m. Lapses in ad revenue should be marginal, if negligible. Some of this footage has rarely, if ever, been shown outside of a museum setting. Candid shots of screen and music legends Lou Reed, Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, Edie Sedgwick, and Dennis Hopper filmed from 1964 to 1966 will be blown up to epic proportions on the world’s most iconic billboards in Midtown Manhattan from May 1 through 31. The Midnight Moments series is aimed at bringing more art-oriented work into the otherwise corporate vacuum, where deep-pocketed multinationals shell out $3.8 million to advertise for 30 seconds during the Superbowl in one of New York’s most tourist-thronged, well-connected hubs. Previous initiatives include a video installation by Yoko Ono titled Imagine Peace and a multi-screen showing of Bjork’s music video for Mutual Core.
Even in a city like Miami, this twisting, LED-emblazoned tower seems a bit over the top. The curious 633-foot structure, called the Miami Innovation Tower, is the work of SHoP Architects, a firm known for adventurous designs, from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to skinny supertall skyscrapers in Manhattan. But even with that reputation, this one takes us by surprise. The Miami Herald reported that the tower is part of developer Michael Simkins' plan for a four-block scheme to be called the "Miami Innovation District." The massive complex would sit between Miami's booming downtown and Overtown, which the Herald noted is one of the poorest parts of the city. Last week, SHoP reportedly submitted plans to the city for the Innovation District. But let's circle back to that twisting tower for a second. The basics: it has three sides, each of which can sport a digital sign up to 30,000 square feet. These massive walls will be put to good use, flashing 24 hours a day, seven days a week. There are also two more billboards on the tower's podium. So, to recap, in total, the Miami Innovation Tower is poised to include two acres of advertisements. Along with this advertising acreage, the tower will also have lounges, restaurants, gardens, plazas, and observation decks. In a statement to the Herald, Simkins said: “The iconic tower will elevate the city’s brand on a global level, enhance the city skyline, and complement and enhance the surrounding community." That could be true, if by "enhance the surrounding community" you mean flash glowing ads around the clock. The tower definitely has some hurdles to pass before its billboards are switched on, but Simkins' vision might actually happen. "Miami’s zoning administrator gave [Simkin's] Miami Innovation Tower plans a nod in March 2014, and in December the developer signed a covenant with the executive director of the redevelopment agency, which has to sign off on his sign application because it lies within the agency’s boundaries," reported the Herald. While the project will surely be controversial (the non-profit Scenic Miami has already said it is "appalled, truly appalled" by the plans), large-scale digital ads are not new to Miami. Just ask the dancing LED woman on the side of the Intercontinental Hotel (below). https://youtu.be/ic7mJtOQLr4
The 17th-century Sospiri Bridge (Bridge of Signs) in Venice connects an ancient prison with interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. The bridge crosses the Rio de Palazzo that itself slices through the palace and makes a spectacular vista as one crosses the canal bridge on the Grand Canal. This vista has been rudely emblazed for at least the past five years by a giant advertising sign the wraps the palace walls and over and under the beautiful Sospiri bridge. Finally the Art Newspaper reports that after a campaign led by the British charity Venice in Peril Fund and signed by Norman Foster, Glenn Lowry, and other sculptural dignitaries the sign will be taken down after the contract ends. The sign has been raising about 40,000 Euros a month to help maintain the Doge’s palace. Further, the newspaper reports that Italy’s cultural minister, Giancarlo Galan, claimed “the advertisers themselves must be finding that they are bad publicity.” Venice is of course faced with many other (perhaps more serious) issues like its declining population of full-time residents (from 200,000 to 70,000) over the past 15 years, but the removal of this vulgar signage is some progress for the serene republic!
This Friday, three massive billboards will debut along the High Line, but instead of blasting consumerism, the art installation by Kim Beck hopes to provoke visitors to think of public space. From the High Line: "Kim's work will encourage park visitors to reconsider the water towers, exhaust pipes, HVAC systems, roof decks, green roofs, and other building elements that are integral components of the cityscape views along the High Line." Called Space Available, Beck will install three "skeletal" blank billboards. Experiencing the signs from different angles can provide the illusion of three dimensionality, when in fact each sign is really flat.
Philly's East Market Street could offer a small slice of Times Square's neon nightlife if a proposed "commercial advertising district" makes it through City Council. Developers and billboard proponents are betting that digital advertising signs will keep tourists shopping - and spending - downtown, but the Philadelphia Daily News says not everyone is going along for the ride. With Philly's convention center and thousands of tourists and residents only a few blocks away, city leaders are baffled when Center City streets are abandoned at sundown. Some believe these dynamic billboards, attached to new and existing buildings, will create a sense of vitality that could spur a vibrant shopping and entertainment district able to hold its own against the likes of the King of Prussia mall. Opponents say the gaudy signs will be incompatible with Philly's historic brand, leading one civic group to call the proposal "honky-tonk junk." The advertising is, in a sense, selling out when other redevelopment opportunities exist. But digital advertising is seen as a catalyst for redevelopment and improvement of downtrodden East Market Street. From the Daily News:
According to Paul Levy, executive director of the Center City District, revenue from advertising is needed to "stimulate development in that corridor." He said he disagreed that the proposed changes would make the area look like Times Square and that the bill permits large ads only on buildings whose owners have agreed to use the money to improve their properties, both the interior and exterior.Philadelphia will continue to study the proposed advertising district while details are being worked out, but the specter of digital ads covering East Market Street is sure to make the debate a lively one. What do you think, can digital billboards and the Times-Square-Effect create a revitalizing energy to bring up a struggling street? What does the advent of "advertecture" mean for design overall? Have we finally learned from Las Vegas? [ Via Brownstoner. ]
If you're an architecture geek like us, you love playing Spot the Building while watching TV or at the movies. (The International, otherwise mediocre, is one of our favorites for this very reason.) That's why this Cadillac commercial caught us so off guard when we saw it the other day. At first, we knew we recognized the "museum" at the start, even though it wasn't actually one. In fact, it wasn't even one building. The big photos of the Caddy are on display in the 14th floor double-height cafeteria at Renzo Piano's Times building, a nice touch given the cool light effects the building's (very climbable) ceramic bars create. But then, their gallery-going complete, the happy yuppie couple step outside into... Huh? That's not Times Square but Cooper Square! Somehow, through the magic of advertising, we've been transported downtown, outside Morphosis' new Cooper Union building. As though the restrained rectilinear forms of Piano could be mistaken for the curvilinear craziness of Thom Mayne! Nice try, Madison Avenue fatcats. You can't pull a fast one on The Architect's Newspaper.