An Ad Worth Subtracting

I used to feel a bit icky seeing an American advertiser exploit a cultural monument in some cheesy demeaning way to hawk their wares. It always seemed a bit tactless on our part. But after my latest trip through the métro I can now rest assured it’s a global affliction; it seems the local admen here are just as willing to sacrifice even the holiest of holies to schlep instant taters and breakfast cereal. Not only that, I think they’ve managed to reach new levels of complete degradation of a national skyline:

As a side note in case you missed it, take a real close look at the bottom left of the Eiffel Tower and you’ll see the location of a small replica of our own Statue of Liberty. Its proximity to Eiffel’s masterpiece is more relevant than you might think—he himself designed the statue’s internal framework before it was gifted to New York. There’s another replica sitting in the Luxembourg gardens, and I once had a surprise run-in with the third which I photographed here.

Back to the subway. I thought I’d seen the worst of it until a day later when the same company erected this inspiring work of genius:

This one is so bad it’s almost good. Their slogan is “Now our products come to you”. It evokes in me zero desire to buy milk, but it does give the urge to write a letter:

Dear grocery store,

How about not?


The Byzantine Architecture Is Enough.


  • I totally agree with your post — but even worse — far, far worse — is when the ads actually deface the monument or piece of architecture itself. I almost died when they decided to drape gigantic ads for diamonds over the entire interior of the soaring, gorgeous windows in the awesome 30th St. train station in Philadelphia. I decided it was crass American capitalism at its worst and would never happen elsewhere (and I’m in advertising!) But then when I was in Rome in February, I walked into the gorgeous Piazza Navona, and saw that they’d covered about 1/2 of the incredibly beautiful building faces with gigantic latticed plastic photos for some soft drink. It was revolting!! So … I can stomach the ads even though they are stupid and trite. But when these marketers start ruining the places themselves, I have to draw the line! Great post!!!

  • Oh but I like U! I think the concept is pretty cool. We don’t have them in the North yet (I think this is because of Auchan), but when I was in Brittany we went there all the time. I’m disappointed in their advertising choices, but such is life.

    • Thanks for the comment Ashley! Yeah they’re bad, and the subway lighting isn’t helping their cause either. But I thought you southerners in Provence didn’t have grocery stores — you all just pluck everything out of your amazing gardens while ripe olives fall effortlessly into your bicycle baskets and the breeze blows fresh herbs in through the kitchen window, right? At least that’s the way I want to imagine it :)

    • Ha, thanks Danny…that was my first laugh of the day. You can thank me later when Architectural Digest comes knocking on your door for a feature article.

      Truth be told, for a second I thought you were commenting on my “How to Make Cheese” post and you were hoping to harvest a big batch of it in front of your house. So technically, thanks for my first TWO laughs of the day. Thanks for reading!

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