18 January, 2007

Free Trade is a Contradiction - Loos are public spaces

Students jam bathroom advertisements

By Kelly Ebbels The McGill Daily


Ad-jammers want McGill to wash its hands of “unethical” advertising and return bathrooms to the public

Kelly Ebbels / The McGill Daily

Last Thursday morning, an anonymous group of students once again jammed Zoom Media ads in bathrooms across campus, replacing corporate advertising with social-commentary art.

The group of students replaced Zoom’s ads with posters protesting war, free trade, corporations like Monsanto, and the privatization of free space. They jammed ads in bathrooms in the Redpath library, as well as the Leacock, Otto Maas Chemistry, and Shatner buildings.

A participant in the ad-jamming, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of prosecution, said that an independent group of five or six people participated in the effort.

They explained that the campaign was an artistic endeavor aimed at addressing spatial politics, as well as promoting anti-corporate and anti-war messages.

“It was artistic as well as political,” he said. “The only overarching message [of the posters] was that [the bathrooms] are not corporate space but public space. It should and must remain a public space, without corporate influence.”

Floh Herra-Vega, SSMU VP Clubs & Services and Shatner building manager, said that while nobody had contacted her expressing dissatisfaction about the ads, she could understand a frustration with the forced advertising.

“It’s fair, but I don’t think [ad-jamming] is an effective tool to get rid of negative corporate influence in public spaces,” said Herra-Vega. She added that while SSMU’s contract with Zoom – scheduled to expire in about five years – does garner substantial revenue for the Students’ Society, it might not be renewed if students expressed enough dissatisfaction with the ads.

“I think if students want it gone, it should be gone,” Herra-Vega said.

Cleve Higgins, a member of the GrassRoots Association for Student Power (GRASP), a radical student collective at McGill, said that while GRASPé was not directly involved in the ad-jamming, it supports the campaign as a form of direct action against negative corporate influence on campus.

“People taking action on their own – doing things without going through intermediary institutions – is the type of political action GRASPé supports and tries to promote,” he said. “People don’t like advertising forced upon them the way Zoom advertises.”

Last year, a group of students also jammed Zoom advertisements across campus, targeting more bathrooms and attempting to glue the ads shut afterwards. In 2004, a widespread ad-jamming campaign at Trent University in Peterborough Ontario prompted Zoom Media to terminate its contract with the student union and the university.

Although Higgins said he hoped something similar would happen at McGill, he said that ad-jamming is a victory in its own right.

“Even if [Zoom does not terminate the contract]…the act of displacing the ad is in itself important, so the opportunity to push back against commercialization of space is in itself an achievement,” he said.

Higgins sat on SSMU’s Financial Ethics Research Committee last year, which submitted a report condemning Zoom Media’s advertising ethics, arguing that placing ads in bathrooms forces people to look at them.
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posted by u2r2h at Thursday, January 18, 2007


Anonymous Anonymous said...

For more information on the corporatization of our Canadian Universities, and Trent University in particular, see OurTrent.com.

With respect to Zoom Media at Trent University ou may also want to see this article Food Fight: Students Against Campus Food Monopoly.

Search for Zoom Media to see the other articles mentioning this company.

Fri Jan 19, 01:09:00 pm UTC  

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