Zatarain's sidewalk ads not legal, city says; company apologizes

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Illegal stickers advertising Zatarain's Crab Boil had been affixed to wheelchair curb cuts in Mid-City as part of a "guerrilla marketing" campaign, but the general manager of Zatarain's said they'd all been removed by this morning. - GAMBIT
  • GAMBIT
  • Illegal stickers advertising Zatarain's Crab Boil had been affixed to wheelchair curb cuts in Mid-City as part of a "guerrilla marketing" campaign, but the general manager of Zatarain's said they'd all been removed by this morning.


The Zatarain's Crab Boil ads that were affixed to the curb cuts on N. Carrollton Avenue in Mid-City may be gone now, but they left a bad taste in the mouth of some New Orleanians — as well as City Hall, which says they were illegal. Though residents had been removing the stickers themselves, the remainder were taken up last night, according to Michael Morse, general manager of Zatarain's.

Morse said he wasn't aware that sidewalk advertising was illegal in New Orleans, and had not heard of other high-profile cases of companies doing so. Last week, a New Orleans-based software company called Meusu upset French Quarter merchants and residents with a sidewalk stenciling ad campaign, and in 2012, Coca-Cola ended up paying the city $10,000 after stenciling sidewalk ads downtown during the Final Four basketball tournament.

Asked if he considered the large stickers to be graffiti or litter, Morse said, "Overall, our goal with this whole campaign was to celebrate crawfish season. Boiling crawfish are a big part of our culture. Our objective on the whole campaign was to celebrate crawfish season; that was our objective. Overall, consumers have really enjoyed it. We went to a lot of effort and made certain that everything would not harm the city." 

The promotion was the brainchild of a New York-based marketing firm, GoGorilla Media, which boasts about its nontraditional forms of advertising, including sidewalk ads. The stretch of N. Carrollton where the stickers were placed also has Zatarain's ads at bus shelters, and two merchants on the street told Gambit they were offered $100 to put up a Zatarain's window cling for the month. GoGorilla project manager Katie Gillespie, who organized the campaign, did not return calls or emails from Gambit.

GoGorilla's slick stickers were placed over the scores in curb cuts made for wheelchair users. Asked about that, Morse said, "There’s no way we were would ever want to make it inconvenient for anyone to use the sidewalk."

It's not clear whether the city will pursue fines against Zatarain's or GoGorilla, as it did with Coca-Cola three years ago, but Brad Howard, press secretary to Mayor Mitch Landrieu, confirmed that the stickers were illegal. "These advertisements were not permitted by the City," he wrote in an email. "The Department of Safety & Permits will contact the violator and instruct them to immediately halt any non-permitted advertising and remove the advertisements. Sec. 134-128 of the City’s Municipal Code prohibits any unlawful posted or painted advertisement on any street, sidewalk, or public rights-of-way."

"We'll work with the local ad agency (Peter Mayer Advertising) if there needs to be a public apology," Morse said.




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