New York City Tells Microsoft to Shove its Advertising Campaign

On Wednesday, Microsoft unleashed a swarm of large clear plastic, static-cling butterflies in Manhattan, only days after City inspectors had finished removing illegal Nike advertising decals that were glued to Central Park West sidewalks in Manhattan. The Microsoft-sanctioned colors of blue, green, orange and yellow on the wings of the butterflies were distributed all over Manhattan's sidewalks, pavement, traffic signals, stop signs, windowsills and doorway entrances. The butterflies featured wingspans of 12 to 20 inches, and the larger ones reportedly had advertising captions on their wings reading "It's better with the Butterfly." The advertising slogan is part of Microsoft's new Internet service, MSN 8. New York City officials were incensed with the blanketing, and claimed that Microsoft had not obtained proper City permits. According to Vanessa Gruen, the Director of Special Projects for the Municipal Art Society of New York, a civic group that has battled public space commercialization, "This is nothing more than corporate graffiti. It's no better than all those kids out there tagging subway cars." The City responded with a letter to Microsoft, according to Assistant Counsel of New York City's Transportation Department, Cesar Fernandez, "We intend to hold your firm directly responsible for this illegal, irresponsible and dangerous defacing of public property." Microsoft claimed that it had obtained proper permits, although its spokeswoman was unable to specify which agencies had issued the permits or when they had been issued. "It's illegal," Ms. Gruen lamented, "and they're going to get a lot of publicity for it." Which, most likely, was the whole idea.

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