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IBM caught tagging San Fran streets with Linux ads

City fathers less than thrilled

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IBM has been touting its flavor of Linux for servers with what can only be described as graffiti, by stenciling peace-signs, hearts and penguins (symbolizing peace, love and Linux) on San Francisco city streets, IDG.net reports.

Apparently, Big Blue failed to get permission in advance and the city is taking a dim view of the stunt. "They're in violation of a city ordinance," SF Department of Public Works public affairs director Alex Mamak is quoted as saying.

"The signs violate section 5.6 of the public works code, he said, which makes it an offense to 'erect, construct or maintain, paste, paint, print, nail, tack or otherwise fasten or affix' any sign to public property, including sidewalks."

New York ad outfit Ogilvy and Mather cooked up the scheme, but it's IBM which will have to scrub away the mess or cough up a fine.

An IBM spokesperson said that the signs are made from biodegradable chalk. "It washes right off, so it will be removed the next time it rains," she's quoted as saying (a bit too brightly, we'd imagine).

However, the article observes that while it rained in San Francisco Wednesday evening, the penguins survived intact, neatly illustrating the crucial difference between 'biodegradable' and 'readily water-soluble'. ®

Update

Several Reg readers in SF report that the stencils are also holding up remarkably well against foot traffic, and reckon that the medium IBM used is a black-spray-paint variety of biodegradable chalk.

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