Times Square without Ads? But Why?

February 1st, 2011

Morgan Spurlock, of Super Size Me Fame, has launched a crowdsourced site called NoADNY which is an “Internet-based effort to remove all visual advertising from Times Square.” Here is Techcrunch’s writeup:

The idea is simple: take a 360-degree picture of Time Square, and use an online picture editor to remove all the ads, the re-upload the edited picture to show the world what a Times Square without ads would look like.

Specifically, the image has been cut up into 100 smaller images that users are asked to click on to edit in Aviary to remove the ads in their frame. Currently, five of the frames are done, and at this rate, the hope is that all of them will be done in a couple of weeks (though it could be sooner).

But why? Whenever I look at Times Square, I get the chills. It is perhaps the greatest monument to capitalism and the power of the mind on planet Earth. The advertisements are simply an expression of that progress. Without ads–and the companies that pay for them–Time Square would certainly not be as developed and vibrant as it is today. This effort to neuter Times Square is an effort to denude everything that built it.

Methinks this is part of a broader attack at corporate America, marketing, and capitalism in general. Techcrunch agrees:

Something tells me that Spurlock, best known for his extreme documentaries likeĀ Super Size Me, also has another documentary in mind here.

I didn’t realize this, but Sao Paolo Brazil has banned all outdoor advertising since 2007 in order to clean up “visual pollution.” Would this be a permissible regulation of commercial speech in the United States probably not? Though the entire commercial speech doctrine has always confounded me.

I live in Johnstown, PA. There are barely any outdoor visual advertisements. I can snap some pics here and send ’em to Morgan. That should suffice.