UK Oat Milk Brand Faces Philadelphia's Wrath After Covering Local Art With Ads
There are a lot of ways to use signage to promote your brand. We know this. This isn’t going to be some long thinkpiece about how to be more creative with your signage or anything like that.
No, this is a cautionary tale about how exactly not to use your signage, after a London-based oat milk company angered an entire city known for getting angry at things often—Philadelphia.
Philadelphians started noticing Minor Figures’ advertisements on just about every horizontal surface in the city. That wasn't particularly out of the ordinary. There are ads all over the cit. The problem is that the company covered up murals and other street art, something that Philadelphia actively encourages and celebrates.
This is what I was talking about yesterday. pic.twitter.com/kUbNma7UU2
— Tim McFarlane (@TimMcFarlaneArt) April 12, 2021
“Everyone knows you don’t go over someone else’s artwork unless you have permission,” local artist Samuel Rodriguez told the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Why didn’t this company know or care? Because of greed.”
Jane Golden, executive director of the city’s Mural Arts organization said she was “quite disappointed” in the act, and called Minor Figures’ move “very presumptuous” and “offensive.”
— Mural Arts (@muralarts) April 13, 2021
As you might imagine, Philadelphians responded characteristically, speaking their minds in no uncertain terms on social media and calling for boycotts of their products.
Some local artists even whipped up quick parody signs.
Kid Hazo Clowns “Woke” Oat Milk Company Minor Figures for Destroying Local Art https://t.co/KRE1YkFOfh
— Conrad Benner (@StreetsDept) April 15, 2021
It ended with Minor Figures CEO Stuart Forsyth apologizing for covering the art, the company saying they instructed workers not to cover art, and working on removing the signs.
“Our posters have unfortunately been posted over important local community artworks, which was a mistake,” he said, according to the Inquirer. “We take full responsibility, and we are working to rectify this in the most appropriate way.”
Man this foreign oat milk company vs Philadelphia street artists saga has everything, including the literal worst corporate apology I’ve ever seen AND THAT BAR IS HIGH. pic.twitter.com/3lWjeFsNnY
— dr. josh k para agnes v (@IAmJoshKopin) April 14, 2021
The lesson here is that, while you can do a lot with signage, like make it look like street art that blends into an urban landscape rather than a traditional billboard, you should not cover up the existing artistic landscape. Even with their apology, Minor Figures isn't likely to build a huge customer base in Philadelphia.
The other lesson here is, of course, don't mess with Philly.