Democratz in da Streetz



Jennifer Silverberg

It's a common sight on morning cruises through St. Louis: stoplight and utility poles peppered with hip-hop posters geared toward upcoming CD releases: "JIBBS NEW CD OUT OCT. 24!" "CHINGY, HOODSTAR, ARRIVES SEPT. 19!" Bankrolled by hip-hop labels intent upon spreading the news, poster bombing is a cheap, effective means of getting the message out to thousands of eyes during the morning commute: Hire renegade street teams equipped with staples and wheat paste, and under cover of darkness they blanket the whole town.

Last night the city got poster bombed, but rather than inform the public that Nas has a new CD dropping in December, the message was different:


"It happens all the time," says Jim Suelmann, director of the St. Louis Street Department.

Adds Suelmann: "Putting poster on any public right of way is illegal. We'll call the campaign headquarters and they say, 'Well, we tell them not to do that, but we can't control what everybody's doing out there.'"

"We got hired by the Democratic party," says Brandon Hinkle, who works for Platinum Projects, the street team that did the bombing.

"Because it is a political campaign, it's okay," says Hinkle. "Otherwise, you have be a little careful."

Hinkle says the campaign commenced on Saturday, and has proceeded ever since, with bombers working ten-hour days, culminating last night. "We're trying the get word out."

Jim Suelmann says there's no exception for political campaigns. "They can stand on the sidewalk and scream and yell and sell papers, and if they want to stand there with a poster card, that's okay. But in most cases they're attaching them to our light poles and sign poles. They can't do that in the public right of way."

Suelmann says he's short-staffed, so cleaning up will take time. "I only got a couple guys out there, so they'll stay up for a while."

Update [added 11/7/06 2:50 pm]: The campaign was financed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which is also paying for a pimped-out, shrink-wrapped SUV to cruise the city throughout election day.

Says Troy Whyte, head of New York City-based Whyte House Entertainment, which is directing the blitz, "It's similar to what we do with record companies, clothing companies, liquor brands and beverages, We're bringing some urban flavor and flair to their advertising and marketing."

-Randall Roberts


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