The MTA’s methods of advertising are so multifaceted that when posters such as the ones analyzed are posted all throughout the subway system, the positive message is conveyed as strongly and effectively as propaganda, yet in a low–key subliminal manner.
A mass transit subway system is an ideal place for such posters and messages, mainly due to the daily travels of millions of commuters allowing for continual reinforcement of the same ideas over time, but also because of a long list of smaller factors: the posters make for good eye candy; posters are inexpensive to make and post on the trains; most posters are not time dependent and stay relevant for a long time; train rides are long enough to absorb the subtleties of the posters; etcetera.
An airport might have the population, but not the repetition of seeing the same ads over and over again to embed the messages. Staircases or hallways in schools and office buildings are compact with people on set schedules every day, and people walk slow enough to read an ad while passing, but there is not enough time to absorb all of an ad’s subtleties, and one usually can not just stop moving to focus on a poster when one is schedule-bound.
A dense area like Times Square is always packed, and many people who work in the area would repeatedly see the ads, but there are too many huge displays with too much information, too much movement amongst the people to focus, and, as a person who worked in Times Square for the past three summers, no true New Yorker really enjoys being there surrounded by all the noise for very long.
Television and the internet are good places for such advertising, as an ad can just pop up at any time and you are almost forced to watch it until the ad is done with you. The same websites can have the same ads, so someone who frequently visits the same websites or watches the same channels will see the same ads repeatedly, thus reinforcing the ads over time. The issue with modern Television and internet ads is their need to appeal a product to the widest audience possible, and by doing this they dumb down their commercials to “sell” a product to the most customers.
If the next generation of commercials learns from the MTA’s positive model of advertising, it could result in a greater feeling of community among all citizens, a greater ecological awareness of the masses, and non-abrasive yet effective advertisements.