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Billbored: App Lets Users Zap Ads

Posted by Mark J. Miller on July 27, 2011 05:00 PM

When nature-loving Henry David Thoreau wrote “I heartily accept the motto, 'That government is best which governs least,' in his essay “Civil Disobedience,” he probably never imagined an app that replaced advertising with works of art from independent artists.

The Public Ad Campaign, an underground American organization that uses “bold acts of civil disobedience” to “air (its) grievances in the court of public opinion,” debuted an app last weekend that allows mobile devices to virtually replace outdoor advertising with public art, using augmented reality to take over a billboard, bus shelter or other form of advertising.

The billboard-hating group tested its monkeywrenching app at the raucous crossroads of the marketing world, Times Square, where every ad is massive and in-your-face. As Minyanville points out, this lets Public Ad Campaign make its point without its members getting arrested, which has happened in the past.

In 2009, five people were arrested while taking part in a Public Ad Campaign project to whitewash hundreds of billboards across New York City, PSFK.com reports. That “protest was designed to call attention to the rampant urban spam and illegal advertising that goes on around the city, in hopes of sparking some dialogue about the problem,” the site noted.

That conversation may have happened but nothing much was done, so now it appears that the organization will just virtually make public advertisements disappear.

The Ad Campaign promises a “much more intense video in the next week or so showing the technology at work,” its site notes.

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