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San Francisco takes IBM to the cleaners

$100,000 for cleaning up Penguin promo droppings

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IBM has offered the city of San Francisco $100,000 compensation after graffiti-ing public spaces - including a church - with "Peace Love and Linux" slogans.

Big Blue also ran the tacky and patronising publicity stunt in Chicago in April, which has sent the clean-up bills to Armonk.

The campaign has been traced back to Chicago-based ad agency Ch'rewd - "staffed with bright, creative goal-oriented people who combine business acumen with street savvy", according to its website - but Ch'rewd fails to mention IBM or its marketing agency on its list of clients.

Although IBM offered to help with the San Francisco cleaning effort, it can't have tried too hard: the graffitti is still visible all over town. So $100,000 looks like a bargain compared with other buying space in comparable media. It's a small fraction - one ten-thousandth, to be precise - of the $1 billion IBM has promised to promote the Penguin.

IBM has a soft spot for guerilla marketing. A few years ago it promoted its AS/400 servers with billboards that had been pre-graffitti'd with 'revolutionary' slogans.

To be truly street-savvy, they'd have simply sprayed "First Post!!!" all over town.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors has yet to decide whether to accept the compensation offer. With a billion bucks available from IBM, it really ought to take them to the (*cough*) cleaners. ®

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