As we've learned with the illegal, non-permitted Snickers campaign, shuttered storefronts are perfect for cheap advertising. The NY Times now reports that companies are "taking advantage of all the abandoned retail spaces in urban areas, marketers are leasing them at cut-rate prices and filling them with their ads." They call it the poor man's billboard, and it can cost just $500 for a 3-month runs in prime locations (something that could cost $50,000 were it on a regular billboard). Some landlords even donate the space, especially if they like the message. For example, Conservation International's campaign compared the destruction of the environment with that of the economy. The windows carried messages like 'Our shopping districts are starting to look as barren as our rain forests.'" Note that the retail vacancy rose 11.2% in the first quarter, the highest since the early 90s.

But wait a second, what about those pesky permits? The Anti-Advertising Agency founder writes a post in response to the Times article, saying he was disappointed the paper didn’t mention the ads are technically a crime. "Outdoor advertising is regulated by the Department of Buildings so billboards aren’t erected in dangerous places and ways, to regulate advertising to specific districts keeping the city livable, and to prevent persuasive messages from being placed anywhere and everywhere a corporation can buy space. The Times is mistaken in reporting on this as a 'thriving' type of advertising emerging from declining economy. Call it what it is, advertisers desperate for profits, committing organized crime, and hurting the livability of our city." Oh well, we're sure the billboard liberators have a way of correcting this.