When I walk down the street, I generally like to keep a low profile. I avoid eye contact with strangers at all costs.¬† Call me crazy, it’s just not worth looking at the wrong guy the wrong way, or sparking conversation with someone who will tell you their life story before you have the chance to run away.
On my usual antisocial stroll from Penn Station to our office one day I noticed what looked like an ad for Domino’s Pizza on the sidewalk of 7th avenue.¬† Now I’ve seen stencils on the sidewalks before (Eminem had chalk outlines all over the streets for the release of his latest album) but never one like this before.¬† This was a reverse stencil, no chalk or paint used.
Curiosity got the best of me, and I had to investigate.
It’s called green graffiti, and it’s an increasingly popular form of out-of-home advertising that’s quickly a slew of press coverage.¬† It got its start in Europe in 2006 and began popping up a couple of years ago on sidewalks in American cities. It’s also¬†not very expensive and environmentally friendly. The images disappear in a couple of weeks and are put in place with only water, no chemicals. Crews are sent out with power washers and stencils. The water is sprayed onto stencils, cleaning off the dirt from the exposed areas and leaving the rest of the sidewalk dirty. The ads are typically applied in areas with heavy foot traffic.
The number of people exposed to the ads varies widely by location, but where there is heavy foot traffic, like New York City, an advertiser can expect to have the message seen by tens of thousands of people over the roughly two weeks that the ads remain visible.
An added bonus is the novelty factor of these ads.¬† I can’t help but stop and check out the random clean spot sprayed into the sidewalk in front of me.¬† It’s also an excellent alternative to hurting Mother Nature by spraying harmful chemicals on the ground, and you help the city by cleaning .00001% of the sidewalk!
Check out this video to see it in action.