View Full Version : Turf War Over ESPN Ads

09-25-2008, 01:10 PM
Turf War Over ESPN Ads at Bus Shelters

ESPN’s advertisements made with synthetic grass have been stolen from bus shelters and walls all across the city.

The advertisements on the bus shelters make you look twice. The image of the grass of the football field looks so realistic, you think it seems three-dimensional. And then you get closer and realize the ad is three-dimensional. It is made of synthetic grass, like AstroTurf, part of a campaign that the advertising agency Wieden + Kennedy created to promote ESPN’s “Monday Night Football.”

AstroTurf has long been used as a derisive synonym for the artificial. (The Astro is from Astrodome, where the fake grass was installed in 1966.) In fact, fake grass-roots campaigns have been often called “AstroTurf campaigns.” However, AstroTurf is a proper name, like Kleenex and Xerox, and it has lasted longer than its parent company, which went bankrupt in 2004, in part because of the ascendency of rival FieldTurf. (The brand in the ESPN ad is called SynLawn.)

But clearly, there is a soft spot in our hearts for fake grass, because vandals have been stealing the eye-catching turf ads around the country since they started going up the last few weeks on bus shelters and walls. The city with the highest thefts? Where else: New York.

In the city, about 195 billboards and bus shelter ads were planned. Of those, 72 of 90 bus shelter postings have been stolen and all of the 85 more traditional billboard posters have been stolen.

So about Sept. 2, ESPN decided to stop installing the signs.

The AstroTurf-like ads were replaced with flat paper ads of the same image with crime scene tape added.

They have also had at least 13 ads taken down in Los Angeles and six in Chicago as of early September.

“Some of these are 11 or 17 feet long,” said Keri Potts, a spokeswoman for ESPN. “How does someone get this down without anyone noticing?”

She said there were anecdotal reports that the signs were showing up in sports bars. Ms. Potts noted that there was a bit of a public hazard element to removing the signs from the bus shelters in New York and elsewhere. “To get them down, they set the little holds on fire, the bindings,” she said.“It just goes to show how crazy sports fans are.”


09-25-2008, 02:40 PM
In an interesting note...

Those thefts coincided with visits from the Bengal players. Rumor has it that they were quite disappointed when they found out the "astroturf" wasn't in fact "grass" and the "grass" wasn't in fact, Marijuana.