The Unlimited MetroCard

A turn-of-the-century cartoon from Brooklyn Life, a local high society publication, which jibes the use of municipal space as a map of product placement:

Brooklyn Life, Brooklyn Historical Society.

Wonder what the blue pills are for…

In July, the Metropolitan Transit Authority launched a plan to put commercial advertising on the face of MetroCards.  The official announcement on the MTA website reads like a finding aid from a future archive which describes the vintage collection of these sloganeered items, “providing commercial advertisers with the unique opportunity to communicate with and motivate a massive commuter population.”  What unborn researcher of 2012 NYC would not want to inspect them?  By that time, it may be that movie posters are scanned daily to fingernails.  Our primitive era would seem curious…

It isn’t the first time the MTA has ushered such a program.  Says the NY Times, “the authority has sold space on the backs of cards intermittently since 1995, beginning with a campaign promoting an Anita Baker album. The most recent campaign came in February, when Domino’s Pizza advertised its $7.99 pies. The card was distributed only in Brooklyn.”

… Anita Baker, such good tunes that hark to the sax-synth Rapture of New York in the 80s…

It might seem crass, given the lack of space in a city of 16 million eyeballs where an ad is not added.  But as the toon in Brooklyn Life demonstrates, it isn’t a new issue.  Indeed the hoighty readership of Brooklyn Life were some of the benefactors of the ad blitz for blue pills.

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