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Bahama ad thieves rewarded in NYC

Thefts of Bahamas ad campaigns in New York City subway is prompting the island-nation to offer riders complimentary copies of the advertisements.In response to the numerous thefts of The Islands Of The Bahamas’ new advertising signs, as well as Internet bloggers bantering about where to find, collect and “acquire” the rather unorthodox and artistic campaign, The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism is providing people with complimentary copies of the ads upon request.

The ads, which encourage New Yorkers to “Escape Everyday Life” and come to The Islands Of The Bahamas, demonstrate how to fly-fish, rest in a hammock and golf while in the subterranean world of the New York City subway system.

An article in the Feb. 1, 2006 Metro section of The New York Times questioned two of the nearly 80 panels in The Islands Of The Bahamas ongoing “station domination campaign.”

It appears the article was based in part on the opinion of two individuals who wrote in on-line blogs that two of four “tongue-in-cheek” panels in the campaign encouraged action that “contradicts the official rules of conduct of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA).”

The New York Times article went worldwide the same day due to an Associated Press wire story which generated further interest from other global media including the BBC in the U.K.


The panels in question use humor to encourage New York subway riders to practice vacation activities including a demonstration of how to turn subway seats into a hammock by lying down and how to fly-fish for trash using chewing gum, a scarf and a cell phone.

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Fallon Worldwide, the Minneapolis, MN based advertising agency that created the campaign, have advised the MTA and CBS Viacom—the company that placed the ads in the subways—to remove and replace the two panels under debate.

What The New York Times did not reference is that individuals contributing to these blogs actually admitted that they found The Bahamas’ ads to be so interesting that they removed them from the subway cars and took them home.

The colorful campaign is in the early stages of deployment and will remain in Pennsylvania Station, through which more than 300,000 people commute each day, through March 2006.

The campaign will dominate the entire station, hundreds of subway cars, as well as city buses.

“The new campaign has clearly peaked the interest of subway riders,” said Basil Smith, senior director of communications for The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism.

“While we want to be sensitive to the MTA’s concerns over certain ads that we believed were whimsical in nature, we also need to be concerned about theft and vandalism in the subways. The fact is that people are removing the ads and using them as art and decorations in their offices and homes. While flattering, we do want as many people to see the ads as possible, given the fact that the campaign and placement of the ads in the subways was not exactly free.”