Emporio Armani NYC 14th Street billboard – 2011 Number 1

Emporio Armani NYC 14th Street billboard - 2011 Number 1

This graphic is similar in theme to Emporio Armani’s urban Amazon billboard, installed in the same location at the end of 2010. Again, the living flesh tones and action of the model contrast with the dead stone gray of the streetscape. Here the Armani-clad blond emerges from the shadows, where in the other ad the urban Amazon stepped out of a fog.

Armani’s new 2011 graphic shows a determined long-legged stride powered by large feet in high heels. With the wind quite clearly in her sails, this young lady’s clothes appear about to take off in the breeze. Reminiscent of the iconic image of Marilyn Monroe barely able to hold down a billowing dress, the ad taps into dreams of being naked in public. The head and neck of Armani’s Miss are now horizontal and the rest of the body might be expected to follow.

Marilyn Monroe billowing skirt

Blue Moon beer delivery truck

Blue Moon beer delivery truck graphic on the side
The impression of paint strokes in the graphic communicates the idea that this is an artisan, hand-made product. The orange slice silently suggests Corona, with Blue Moon as the better tasting beer. The bright orange circle with the lines radiating from the center also provides a hypnotic spiral, as does the small blue moon logo in the diamond up-ended square on the side of the truck.

Blue Moon beer delivery truck graphic
Blue Moon beer delivery truck graphic on the back of truck

Steve Madden NYC Meat Market billboard

Steve Madden NYC Meat Market billboard on Little West 12th

This Steve Madden billboard is installed on Little West 12th Street, off of 9th Avenue.

Back in 1967, the Jefferson Airplane’s Grace Slick sang of pills that make you larger. How very long ago that was becomes obvious by glancing at this Steve Madden billboard. The contemporary Alice of the city streets isn’t interested in expanding consciousness. What she wants to grow are her breasts, her head, and her feet — with the focus on the feet.

This Steve Madden Big Head Girl ad is using a different concept than the ones from the ’90s. Those images portrayed adult women with the Big Head feature expressing interaction. When speaking with someone — or even just gazing at a person with the hope of conversation — one looks at the face. Then, the head nearly fills your field of vision with the rest of the body foreshortened. The new graphic is a surreal representation of a child.

The billboard shows a pre-adolescent girl trying on her mother’s hat and shoes. Magically, though there’s nothing in the picture to lead us to think that her brain is brimming with ideas, the auburn haired head has blown up like a balloon to fill the hat. Similarly, the feet — erect and stiff with straps — have swollen to fill the shoes. With the ramped-up footwear the little lady of 2011 is a big girl now.

It’s sad to think that any adult woman is haunted by her body image as a twelve-year-old, like a physical version of the Flowers for Algernon artificial genius Charlie tortured by the presence of himself as a challenged child. And isn’t this the great horrible doubt that torments the American Faith’s belief in the After? That all those Befores alone by the telephone in the nation’s night will send in their coupons only never to be Charles Atlas or even the Life of the Party.

As the New York City Meatpacking District’s streets are paved with rough cobble stones, there’s no better place to view the injury that women inflict on themselves by wearing high-heeled pedal monstrosities. Barely able to keep from falling while trying to cross the uneven streets, women so ball and chained often need to be physically supported by their male companions. The contrast between the marketing’s illusory promise of somehow morphing into a strong woman — miraculously becoming like William Gibson’s female enforcer Sally Shears, who wore heavy boots for a “job” in Mona Lisa Overdrive — and the insulting reality of fashionable foot binding disguised as self-improvement is stark. This is similar to cigarette advertising’s Marlboro Man false offer of rugged individualism when tobacco’s truth is dependency and infirmity, a complete reversal of fact, a Big Lie.

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For some time, the lights over this sign did not turn on at night, and so the ad was only visible during the day. As the winter daylight hours are short and the area’s night life is active, the lack of nocturnal visibility was not easy to understand. Did the advertiser forget to pay the electric bill? Did a squirrel chew through the wire? Was it just a long time before anyone ever checked to see if the lights were working? This evening (01/07/11), just one light out of 3 is providing illumination.

Stella Artois Hoboken building sign

Stella Artois Hoboken building sign

This large beer sign is on the side of a building in Hoboken less than a block from the viaduct and not far from the Lincoln Tunnel. The graphic is visible from 14th Street and from nearby Park Avenue.

The image appears to be painted. If that is so, then — as most billboard production is now by printing — the picture is distinctive.

Stella Artois Hoboken sign small print

A peculiar feature of this ad is the relatively tiny lettering. Perhaps the “www” of the Web Site URL will serve as a cue, but why not just leave it out? Then, the remainder of the domain name could be made that much larger. And what is that smudge under the Web Site address? If you click on the image above, you’ll see that this sign gives new definition to the term “small print.” Do words that require binoculars to read carry any sort of legal weight?

Glass blowing torch

An inspiration for the dynamic portrayal of the flow of the beer from the tap and into the glass might be the action of a flame from a glass blower’s torch.