Why make a poster telling us there's no ad on a poster site?

We are all being overwhelmed with the exponentially increasing levels of communications borne of the digital world.

Sometimes it seems the drive to over-communicate is all around us. Like this poster frame, I spotted on the Underground recently.


It seems to be absolutely unnecessary. But at the same time completely compelling. Well, it does to me, because it hints at a hidden back-story.

The redundancy of the opening few words is contradicted by the message itself. A touch of surrealism to start things off and then comes the damning reveal. It would appear that somewhere along the line a poster was indeed supplied but it was incorrect. Since then there seems to have been some unknown blockage in the poster supply pipeline, for the arrival of the correct one is pending. Delayed enough to merit this notice - something conceived, printed, delivered and displayed for all to see. And all before the correct poster has been supplied!

What it does do, is raise fundamental communication questions:

Who is it for?

It can’t be for me or indeed any of the other thousands of passengers for whom these poster sites exist. It can’t be for the person who put up the poster because presumably they are well aware that the correct poster has not been supplied, by the simple fact that they have put this in its place(!) It can’t be for the person in charge of coordinating the poster delivery system for they too must be aware of the wrong poster incident - and they are unlikely to chastise themselves in public.

Let’s try a different angle:

Who is it from?

Well, it seems that it must be from some independent observer of peripheral nocturnal tube activity because that’s when posters materialise. This person also has a burning desire to pass comment (not to mention the ability to hijack the appropriate process and channel.) Ok, this is just getting weird…

Try again:

What is its purpose?

Well without a Scooby-Doo on the first two answers I am left at a total loss. And I’m going to stop there because I suspect you will either be getting maddened or bored with my pointless peripheral ponderings or you will have discerned a different story or interpretation. If so please, please share.

So what is my point? Well, apart from enjoying sharing this hidden gem of quirkiness, it is that we should always be asking ourselves those simple questions about who we are trying to communicate to and for what purpose?  We live in a world where it’s all too easy to create communications that miss the point or even misinform.

Oh, wait I’ve got it!

It’s an extremely erudite and niche art piece that uses intrigue and subterfuge to create a dynamic dialogue about the missing soul of society…

What do you think? Answers on a notice to replace an incorrect poster, please.

If you have any comments regarding this article or would like to talk to us about 'over-communication' or your communications needs, please contact us.

A version of this article first appeared on Campaignlive.co.uk on January 26, 2018.

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