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Ads for Nike's New Store, Stapled to Trees and at 'L' Stop, Anger Residents

By Alisa Hauser | October 4, 2013 4:34pm
 Nike stapled signs to over one dozens trees in Bucktown and Wicker Park, as well as plastered posters inside the CTA Blue Line Damen "L" station.
Nike Staples Signs to Trees in Bucktown, Wicker Park
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BUCKTOWN — A guerilla ad campaign promoting a new Nike store in Bucktown infuriated residents Friday after posters promoting the store were stapled to dozens of trees and plastered inside a CTA Blue Line stop — all without authorization, officials said.

Nike advertisements announcing the opening of a new store Saturday at 1640 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown were attached to the trees along Damen Avenue between Armitage Avenue and Wabansia Street and on Schiller Street from Damen to Hoyne avenues. They were also installed inside the Damen Avenue "L" stop.

"Not only is this pretty ugly, but metal staples also can't be healthy for the trees," observed Jon Uhl, a Bucktown resident. He said he was bothered by "the harmful effects of the staples but also with the use of public natural resources being used as free advertising space for a company that should know better."

Uhl said he was upset about the actions even though he's "not anti-Nike." 

"I've worn their running shoes for years and was previously excited about the opening of this store. The whole thing strikes me as inept at best and arrogant at worst," he said.

Elizabeth Gomez, a staffer for Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd) said Friday afternoon that her office called Nike after hearing from residents.

"They are going to look into it and make sure to remove" the signs, Gomez said.

Brittany Thoms, a spokeswoman for Nike, confirmed Friday afternoon that the signs were being removed. Thom said an outside firm was responsible for putting up the ads.

"It was an outside group that we hired to do the promotions," Thoms said. " ... We were not aware that they did not use proper methods to put them up."

Stapling posters to trees is a violation of the Chicago Municipal Code, which prohibits "causing injury to a public tree or shrub." In addition, permits are needed to attach material to a tree on the public way, according to city code.

The ordinance says fines are possible for violations, but a Chicago Police spokesman did not immediately know if police were investigating the situation.

It's not clear when the signs were put up, but Juana Salazar, a worker at Township Cleaners at 1805 N. Damen Ave. in Bucktown, said she immediately noticed five posters stapled to three young parkway trees in front of the cleaners when she arrived to work early Friday.

Two of the trees had posters stapled into them on both sides of their trunks, she said.

"It's wrong. It's hurting the trees. The tree [in front] is only five years old, a young tree. Staples are not good for trees. You are supposed to use string to put a sign around a tree," Salazar said.

Bucktown resident Kristene Richardson was dropping her daughter off at Pritzker School at 2009 W. Schiller Street when she noticed posters on several trees on both sides of the street.

"When I saw how many posters there were on trees and on the same block as an elementary school, I thought that's a little ballsy, that's the kind of guerilla marketing you don't want to see," Richardson said.

Christy Webber, a landscaping contractor who maintains several parkway trees in Wicker Park, called the Nike ads "pure laziness."

Webber said she has seen posters stapled to trees before but usually it's by "uneducated people just having garage sales."

Webber added, "I would think a huge corporation like Nike would have known better."

Additionally, posters were plastered over the CTA Damen Blue Line "L" station at 1558 N. Damen Ave.

CTA Spokeswoman Catherine Hosinki told DNAinfo Chicago that the several Nike posters affixed to the walls inside the station "were not approved." Even if they had been OK'd, the signs would have to be installed by CTA's contracted vendor, Titan, which puts up all ads for the transit system.

Hosinki said the posters violate a municipal code that prohibits the unauthorized dissemmination of material within CTA buses, trains or paid areas.