There’s culture jamming, and then there’s the Billboard Liberation Front.
Last week, the BLF ‘improved’ a billboard on behalf of its ‘clients’ AT&T and the National Security Agency. Focusing on billboards in the San Francisco area, this action is designed to promote and celebrate the innovative collaboration of these two global communications giants.
I’m not averse to activism (it’s not graffiti, it’s a timely improvement of outdoor advertising) and I think these guys are kinda cool because what they’re doing is intelligent, it’s done tastefully and it has a purpose; it’s not like they’re spraying billboards because they’re loaded up on crystal meth and have no place to go.
The BLF have a manifesto and it makes some sense. They also have a quirky sense of humor; advertisers are known as ‘clients’ and ‘strategic partners’ are people like Adbusters and the Wooster Collective.
Most important of all, the BLF raises a pretty good question; at which point does a billboard cease to be advertising and become an unnecessary public space?