The network executives who blocked Trojan's pig spot should be thankful they're not in charge of outdoor signage in New York. It turns out, as perceptive New Yorkers may already have noticed, that the vanguard of provocative advertisements has nothing to do with condoms. It's selling storage space.
For the past few months, Manhattan Mini Storage has decided to take a risk by bringing its politics out of the closet and plastering them onto billboards, telephone booths and bus stops. Having grown up in Manhattan, I like to think I'm pretty good at tuning out my surroundings, but one can't help taking a second look at giant signs that say things like, "Your Closet's So Narrow It Makes Dick Cheney Look Liberal" and "Your Closet's Scarier Than Bush's Agenda." And we just got tipped off to another: "Your Closet Space Is Shrinking as Fast as Her Right to Choose."
Yeah, I know, a woman's right to choose is a much more important issue than closet space (though I bet you could find some studio dwellers who would disagree). But I still think the ad campaign is genius: Regardless of your personal politics, if you live in New York, you probably don't have enough closet space -- and Manhattan Mini Storage is one of the best-known storage facilities in the city. If you decide not to put things in storage because you disagree with the ads' politics, you are therefore -- through the constant, nagging presence of your overflowing closet -- only hurting yourself.
Of course, Manhattan Mini Storage doesn't limit its ads to political statements. Its Web site links to a new commercial featuring a moose head, and in the past it's made fun of things like "Brokeback Mountain" and "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," and the occasional unlucky celebrity ("Your Closet's So Shallow It Makes Paris Look Deep").
As for these ads, they give me the same feeling I get from watching "The Daily Show" -- I feel lucky to live in a country where we are free to be politically irreverent (on both sides of the spectrum) without fear of punishment. Maybe I'm just a troublemaker, but I hope that another storage company seizes upon the opportunity created by Manhattan Mini Storage's foray into politics and puts up pro-Republican ads. Now that would make Manhattanites stop and stare.