>Metro Center Advertising – Front Groups


On my way to the Capital Criterium last Sunday, I noticed a strange theme to the advertising in Metro Center Station.  All the ads seemed to have some sort of pro-big-business slant to them.  Here are the ads I saw:

I saw others, including a public service ad for mercury (it’s not as bad as you think!) as well as one that seemed to be implying that drunk driving laws weren’t all that important (fatigue causes more accidents!).  I knew something had to be up because all the ads were related, and I knew WMATA has a program to blanket purchase an entire station at once.  Who’s responsible for this?

These guys:

According to Sourcewatch, a non-partisan wiki run by the Center for Media and Democracy:

Berman & Co., a Washington, DC public affairs firm owned by lobbyist Rick Berman, represents the tobacco industry as well as hotels, beer distributors, taverns, and restaurant chains. Berman & Co. lobbies for companies such as Cracker Barrel, Hooters, International House of Pancakes, Olive Garden, Outback Steakhouse, Red Lobster, Steak & Ale, TGI Friday’s, Uno’s Restaurants, and Wendy’s. It also operates a network of several front groups, web sites, and think tanks that work to keep wages low for restaurants and to block legislation on food safety, secondhand cigarette smoke, and drunk driving.

I’ll try to swing by and get more photos of the ads because they are so varied and creative.

The second photo I posted sends you to a website, econ4u.org*, which has some useful information about consumer credit.  The site talks about FICO scores and understanding debt, as well as ways to fund college.  However, one part of the site seems a little out of place.  The site is pro-payday lending, citing that a $15 fee to borrow $100 for two weeks sure beats a late fee for a credit card or a bounced check fee (that’s almost 400% interest). 

It’s not what Berman advertises and lobbies for that gets to me.  Someone has to present the other side of the argument that mercury is bad for you.  It’s the front groups, the spin, the deception.  If you’re not trying to fool people, you wouldn’t have to try to hide who you are and what you’re doing. 

There was really only one ad being run at Metro Center.  It was for Berman and Company, and the message was, "Look what we can do for your business, if we can even make drunk driving seem ok".

*Econ4u.org is a project of the "Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Literacy", which is a project of the "Employment Policy Institute", which is a front group run by Berman and Company.  Econ4u.org invites you to inquire with the State Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Agricultural and Consumer Services for a copy of the financial statement.  I intend to do just that.

All photos by Michael P of Infosnack.  Released under Creative Commons, attribution requested.

About perkinsms

I'm an engineer and father interested in transit, parking and economics.
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7 Responses to >Metro Center Advertising – Front Groups

  1. Matt' says:

    >I do believe I saw you take the picture of the frogs.I was passing through Metro Center on Monday while going from the doctor back to work.I thought, that’s either a blogger or a tourist. After all, I’m the only person I know of to have taken pictures of Metro ads.

  2. Michael says:

    >Wasn’t me. I took the pictures Sunday morning around 11:30am, and I decided that I didn’t need to go back. When I was taking the pictures, I just wanted the information so I could figure out what the deal was with all the ads.

  3. stormrunner says:

    >Today, 10/10/08, at Metro Center, there was a Station Domination ad campaign about a new computer game (I forget the name) about a post-nuclear-holocaust Washington, D.C. It features an image of a Mad Max wannabe with automatic weapon held high, walking in a sepia-toned world that is supposed to evoke Hiroshima-on-the-Potomac. It also has dark images of the hollowed-out US Capitol after an “exchange.”Listening to Amy Goodman this morning and her coverage of the Bush Administration signing a nuclear trade deal with India in violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty and a number of other international laws, this dark vision seemed both more plausible and also more offensive. Who is promoting this crap to our youth as a game? And why is WMATA accepting their ad account? Apparently the ad acceptance policy at WMATA has no oversight from people with any scruples. Isn’t this public space that should have a higher code of professional ethics and accountability for ad content and message?I must believe that the future is not set in stone, that it is what we make of it. And what we make of it depends in turn on what we think of it and believe about it, and those thoughts and beliefs are transmitted to our youth. Who at WMATA wants to transmit to our youth the belief that they literally have no future? And why? This is unacceptable — and unconscionable.

  4. Michael says:

    >I don’t know. That game looks like it is going to kick ass. It’s just a game, rated M for mature. Get over it.

  5. Michael says:

    >Oh, and the game is Fallout 3.

  6. Michael says:

    >The advertising for Fallout 3 clearly meets WMATA’s commercial advertising guidelines:http://wmata.com/about/parp_docs/Advertising_Guidelines.pdf

  7. Chief says:

    >Who funds the Center for Media and Democracy? To call them “non-partisan” seems like a stretch to me.

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