That won't stop Rahm Emmanuel, though. In one of his first big moves as mayor, he's gone ahead and sold spots to corporations in key places downtown. The first ad display appears on the Wabash Avenue Bridge, where Bank of America signs are cheaply plastered onto the stone.
There's no regard to taste or aesthetic to be seen here. Rahm clearly doesn't mind treating historical architecture like the rear bumper of a Subaru: as prime bumper sticker real estate. It looks gross, it cheapens the cityscape, and it's a slap in the face to those architects who spent so long making this city what it is. The last thing I want to think about when I'm admiring the structures of Chicago is which branch of corporate bank I should be handing my money over to.
If anything, these ads will lend another negative connotation to Bank of America--something they really don't need right now with the debit card fee fiasco and the Occupy Wall Street protests. In fact, maybe this is a move against Occupy Chicago on the part of Rahm and BoA. Protesters have been marching around the financial district for weeks; now they get to see another part of their city marred by corporatism. It seems kind of like a big middle finger to the movement.
It's certainly inspired by the same sort of desperation that sparked OWS. The city is broke, just like millions of frustrated Americans. And desperate times lead, sometimes, to desperate and clumsy measures--like using iconic architecture as a billboard. Mayor Emmanuel plans to raise $25 million by selling ads on public exteriors. We'll see how far he gets with that. Thankfully, the Bank of America logos will only be here for another month--though there's no telling where Emmanuel and his corporate sponsors will be slapping their branding next.