Big Blue Brought to Task for Graffiti

Guerrilla marketing may be a hot strategy these days, but it’s a strategy
that backfired on IBM Corp. Tuesday when a trail of sidewalk graffiti on
Chicago’s North Side lead Chi-town police straight to the computer industry
behemoth.

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, 100 or so locations in The Windy
City were tagged with black spray painted peace symbols, hearts and
penguins — the hall marks of Big Blue’s recently launched, multi-million
dollar “Peace, Love, Linux,” eServer advertising campaign.

The revelation comes a week after Chicago police arrested Ali Morsy, 20, for
allegedly stenciling the symbols in black spray paint on the city’s
sidewalks. Ogilvy & Mather, the firm behind IBM’s campaign, said the
graffiti was supposed to be done in biodegradable chalk. The Sun-Times
reported that Morsy — working for Chicago-based Ch’rewd Promotions which
handled IBM promotion in Chicago — was caught with black spray paint on his
hands and three cans of paint in his possession when police arrested him
last Wednesday. He was charged with criminal damage to property, possession
of paint and vandalism.

A city ordinance gives the municipality the power to fine any business that
advertises through posters, paint or signs in the city’s right-of-way.

Chi-town Streets and Sanitation Department officials said that a
high-pressure solution of baking soda and water must be used to remove the
paint. The city is considering fining Big Blue up to $5,000, or $50 for each
location vandalized. It may also charge IBM for the cost of the cleanup.
Sanitation Department officials said each spot will take up to an hour to
clean at a cost of about $67 per half hour for equipment, labor and
supplies.

San Francisco, too, has been at the receiving end of IBM’s taggers. Last
week that city ordered the company to remove graffiti from its sidewalks.

Big Blue spokesmen said the graffiti portion of its campaign has been
discontinued.

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