Historic French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé defaced with graffiti advertising Coca-Cola products

It is my opinion that the City of New Orleans is being pimped out promoted at an unprecedented level (to a degree that gives rise to what could be described as “neighborhood fatigue”). Such heavy promotion rarely occurs without unintended consequences: for example, illegal, ugly, and damaging guerrilla marketing campaigns. This kind of defacement is unconscionable and must be addressed immediately.

The following is a letter I sent this evening to elected officials and law enforcement; I’m tired, so it was brief and to the point.

Spray-painted stenciled graffiti advertising a Coca-Cola product in conjunction with the NCAA Men’s Final Four event.

Honorable Mayor Landrieu, Councilmembers Palmer and Clarkson, and NOPD 8th District Commander Walls:

The attached photos depict advertising associated with the NCAA Men’s Final Four event for Coca-Cola products — spray-painted on sidewalks and pavement (including flagstones) in the French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé (and perhaps other) neighborhoods in our city. I ask, is this really how we want companies to behave when our city hosts national events?

This advertising is also prohibited by a recently adopted New Orleans ordinance:

Sec. 134-128. – Advertisements on streets, telegraph poles, etc., prohibited.

(a)  It shall be unlawful for any person or entity to post or paint advertisements of any kind on any street, sidewalk, public buildings, utility poles, light standards, street signs, parking meters, trees located in public right-of-way or traffic signal standards.

(b)  Any unlawful posted or painted advertisement on any street, sidewalk, public buildings, utility poles, light standards, street signs, parking meters, trees located in public rights-of-way or traffic signal standard shall be seized and removed.

(c)  It shall be the responsibility of the Department of Sanitation or the Department of Parks and Parkways to devise a system of removal for such signs.

(d)  It shall be unlawful to distribute or cause to be distributed any commercial product samples, commercial advertising brochures, leaflets pamphlets or commercial literature of any kind on the streets and sidewalks of the city, except as otherwise provided in this Code.

(M.C.S., Ord. No. 24452, § 1, 6-2-11)

Source: http://library.municode.com/HTML/10040/level3/PTIICO_CH134SI_ARTIIIRE.html#PTIICO_CH134SI_ARTIIIRE_S134-128ADSTTEPOETPR

Spray-painted stenciled graffiti advertisement on flagstone surface for another Coca-Cola product.

Can you please reply to this email indicating how you intend to address this defacement of public property?

Thank you for your time, consideration, and prompt response.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It is regrettable that there isn’t an easy solution or means to expedite addressing such issues promptly when they arise. Situations like this will be ongoing concerns; the hope is for action on the part of our City’s Administration that will yield consistent improvement. While some of the factors that cause defacement or damage can be abated, vigilance and timely remedies must be implemented.

Likewise, the consistent enforcement of existing and new ordinances will also determine the degree of success experienced in addressing these issues over time. While private property owners can be compelled to take action to address, for example, structural or blight issues, there is no similar mechanism available to compel the city to address such defacement promptly or focus on enforcement.

Stated simply, the most significant difference between historic beauty and hazardous decay is cumulative, uninterrupted neglect. The continued degradation of the historic heart of New Orleans cannot remain unaddressed, particularly if one considers that our amazing city will be in an ever-increasing spotlight while hosting the 2013 Super Bowl and celebrating its 300th Anniversary in 2018.

38 thoughts on “Historic French Quarter and Faubourg Tremé defaced with graffiti advertising Coca-Cola products

  1. So I guess that’s who this ad was for: http://neworleans.craigslist.org/evg/2912311942.html

    “New York based Ad Agency seeking street artist to assist with sidewalk stencils for well known beverage company.

    The job date is Thursday, March 29th. We will have three teams and each team will place 40 stencils.

    The pay rate for this job is $15 per stencil. Since you will be placing 40 stencils, you will make $600.

    We will be placing these stencils without city permission and will be placed near Final Four trafficked areas.

    If interested all candidates should submit resume and previous work.”

    They admit there that what they’re doing is illegal.

  2. any chance these are done with some type of non-permanent spray paint? like chalk paint or something similar? not that it would excuse the blatant commercialism anyways, but i have seen in other cities when corporations do these type of things they often try to use a medium that is not permanent so as to not get into too much trouble.

    though, it is coke. i’m sure they feel like they can do whatever the hell they want.

  3. Preliminary testing indicates that some form of paint product was used to create the graffiti stencils. It cannot be removed by application of water alone, or with use of an average cellulose sponge. Use of a scrubber sponge and effort is required to remove the product used; this could be damaging to certain surfaces, like flagstones.

    While it is possible that foot traffic and repeated exposure to water (rain) could accelerate its eventual removal, the act of creating these ads was, in fact, illegal and can still have unforeseen consequences to certain areas or surfaces.

  4. Informal Internet response received via Twitter from @CocaCola verified account: “Our agency misinterpreted our permit. We are moving expeditiously to remove all of the chalk stencils Thank you.”

  5. Email received from Elaine White, Chief of Staff for Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson, City Council President: “This issue has been resolved.”

  6. Hey folks…..Chris Rose with Fox 8 here. This is a matter dear to my heart. And work. Anyone notice if any of the tags have been removed? Also, can anyone direct me to their locations? If Coke wants exposure, let’s give it to them. Thanks.
    Nice job, nolafemmes.

  7. I emailed Coke on their website informing them that I would be boycotting their products and how upset I was over their actions. I was polite and to the point, stating that I did not believe ignorance of the ad company and their actions was a good excuse. Coke emailed me back with-in a half and hour. They replied that there was a miscommunication (I call bs on that, that is just spin doctoring) and that they were expediting the removal of the chalk stencils. I will wait to see what they actually do before judging again. Let’s hope they do this right.

      • I just went to their website. The e-mail address is cocacolasupport@na.ko.com and my response came from someone named Sonata. This is the response I got.

        Thank you for contacting The Coca-Cola Company, and bringing this to our attention!

        There was a miscommunication between our agency and the New Orleans city officials as to what the permit allowed them to display and we are expediting the removal of the chalk stencils this morning. We appreciate your commitment to the historic preservation of the French Quarter.

        If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact us again.



  8. Pingback: Coca-Cola washing off illegal French Quarter sidewalk advertisements | Baton Rouge LA DIRECTV Service

  9. sadly, even though coke is saying mea culpa, they are still getting their PR $’s worth out of this. any publicity is good publicity to corporations like them.

    i second the idea of using coke to remove the stencils. spray chalk is a weird substance, for sure. i didn’t mean to imply that i thought it was any better that they used the spray chalk over permanent spray paint, just that i think it’s how they tend to get away with it and have no qualms doing it. it will eventually wear away, yes. but so would regular spray paint, take my word for it.

    congrats kalen on breaking this story. and good on you for noticing and being enraged and doing something about it. good job nolafemmes!

  10. Pingback: Coca-Cola's Grafitti Hits Historic New Orleans Neighborhoods Ahead of Final Four | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building

  11. Thanks, Mags, and also to everybody who’s become a part of this in any way. The email I sent to our elected officials and this blog post were simply the products of irritation and insomnia… In truth, the email is actually astonishingly tame and polite for me (as I noted, I was tired).

    I give credit and gratitude to the people on Twitter who made this story live on its own (generated by two wee hours tweets from me simply requesting, “Twitter, please blow this up…”), to the local media who got involved and are putting the spotlight on our elected officials regarding this matter, to Councilmembers Palmer and Clarkson’s offices, and to NOLAFemmes founder & editor Charlotte Hamrick, who understands that I only post every once in a while but, for whatever reason, people seem to pay attention (go figure).

    Coca-Cola graffiti matter is “resolved,” says Clarkson staffer

    Coca-Cola washing off illegal French Quarter sidewalk advertisements

    The part that makes me the most pleased about this is that New Orleanians are taking their own pictures of the graffiti ads and getting involved; that flat-out rocks! (And the next-day removal activity? That was a very pleasant surprise in a city who’s unofficial saint is none other than “St. Expedite.”)

  12. Pingback: Coca-Cola graffiti matter is "resolved," says Clarkson staffer | Blog of New Orleans

  13. I can’t help but be a fan of outside-the-box guerrilla marketing. Sometimes you don’t know where the line is until you step over it. If this stuff was paint, it was despicable. If it was chalk that would wash away in the next rain, not so much. JMHO.

  14. My opinion is that if I as a New Orleans citizen and (theoretically speaking) an owner of a mom and pop store can’t do it, why can a corporation do it? I wonder what would happen if I began stenciling – even with only chalk – on the sidewalks of an historic neighborhood?

  15. Clarkson office says “matter resolved”… how disgusting is that answer. As a business owner in the heart of Royal Street and a property owner of a residence in the Quarter, I know that the matter would not be resolved if any of my fellow business owners or I did the same thing, permanent paint or not. We are required to have permits for almost everything in the Historic Districts. Shame on Coca Cola for not taking ultimate responsibility.
    I am not opposed to Ms. Clarkson or her office, just disgusted by such a short, nondescript answer.
    I am appalled at the whole situation!

  16. Follow-up letter sent to New Orleans city officials and their hard-working staff who responded to my request for assistance on 3/30/12 (not an April Fools prank):

    Subj: Thank you re: illegal corporate spray-painted advertising on sidewalks in New Orleans

    Honorable Mayor Landrieu, Councilmembers Palmer and Clarkson, and all parties involved who replied to my request:

    I am very pleased by the New Orleans City Administration’s prompt response and, in particular, the actions of the staff of Councilmember Palmer’s and Councilmember Clarkson’s offices regarding addressing this unfortunate circumstance.

    Thank you for your efforts and timely action regarding the defacement of the city’s historic areas and the Central Business District!


    Kalen Wright

  17. Uni Watch: Stands for ‘Noxious Corporate Abhorrent Advertising’


    Excerpt: “But it’s good to feel some solidarity with the good people of New Orleans, who’ve been through enough crap in the past seven years without having some douchebag corporation treating their city like a bunch of free billboard space.”

    And from USA Today:
    Coke Final Four marketing stunt backfires in New Orleans

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  19. Pingback: Coca-Cola's New Orleans Graffiti Mess: The Rest of the Story | V3 Kansas City Integrated Marketing and Social Media Agency

  20. Pingback: Coca-Cola Encounters Backlash After Failed Marketing Stunt « MediaStreet News & Opinions

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