A number of advertising companies which dominate Times Square have websites you and your students can look at to think about how much the ads cost, exactly where they are located, and strategies for reaching Times Square visitors. Among these companies are Sherwood Outdoor, Spectacolor, and of course Van Wagner Communications. We actually did try to calculate an accurate CPM (cost per thousand) for ads seen in home movies using the costs listed by these sites and additional online resources for CPM calculation. You can try running your own with your students! You might also try using Google Maps’ StreetView function to look around the area and figure out where these companies’ billboards are located, look up the names of other billboard companies (check the names at the bottoms of most billboards), discuss the success of different tactics, or talk about how many ads you can see in Times Square.
“Advertising pollution” in our communities is a big concern for a number of art and nonprofit organizations, including Commercial Alert, the Anti Advertising Agency, and the Billboard Liberation Front. For a contrast between American advertising and advertising elsewhere, check out the Anti Advertising Agency’s post on advertising in Rwanda.
The original AdAge video we used in this episode can be found here. There was a good deal written about the changes made to Times Square for the Spiderman movie; you might check the Advertising Age website for additional, possibly more recent, articles on taking advertising out of a shot in post-production of films and television shows.