Home MTA Absurdity If you see something, blog about it

If you see something, blog about it

by Benjamin Kabak


Don’t worry about terrorists; K9 Emily is on the prowl.

As I rode the uptown local from 66th St. to 96th St. this afternoon after catching a movie at the Lincoln Square Cinemas, my eye alit upon the ad above. Except it was in Spanish. So for four stops, I got a huge kick out of the ad that read, “Usted usa sus ojos. Ella usará su hocico.”

I’ll use my eyes; she can use her snout. I felt safer already.

Unbeknownst to me, I wasn’t the only one noticing the MTA’s ubiquitous yellow anti-terrorism ads urging individual attention to suspicious things in the subway. (And, no, we’re not talking about the guy selling pirated DVDs as suspicious as that may be.) Since I didn’t get a chance to read the Friday business section in The Times, I missed this brilliant article on the successes of the “If you see something, say something” advertising campaign.

The short version: In the post-9/11 climate, the MTA hired Korey Kay and Partners to come up with a catchy slogan. They’ve certainly succeed as more than 30 organizations worldwide now use some variation on the theme.

They include the Alexandria Transit Company in Virginia; the Australian states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia; Bay Area Rapid Transit; the Chicago Transit Authority; the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; and TriMet in Portland, Ore.

“We wanted something that was punchy and catchy enough to not fade in the background,” said Christopher P. Boylan, a deputy executive director at the M.T.A., “and makes a connection with every one of our passengers.”

At the same time, said Allen Kay, chairman and chief executive at Korey Kay, “there was concern there could be backlash, concern we were using fear tactics,” so consumer research was used to determine perceptions of the theme.

While Kay may have been concerned about the negative backlash, I’m a bigger fan of all of the parodies that seem to find there ways around the Internet and the city. My all-time favorite I spotted a few months ago on a downtown E train. It said, “Bush is still President, say something.” Sadly, I couldn’t capture it for posterity, but others have. Let’s take a look. (All links pop to show the pictures.)

Some folks have taken to using pink pig stickers to lively up the posters. That’s just as good as drawing mustaches on news anchor’s faces. It never fails to amuse.

Then, there are those who edit the slogan a la the President Bush one. I’ve seen many. One of my favorites is “If you see something, run like hell.” That one is poignantly sad in its veracity.

But beyond humor, people have taken to using this slogan as a political statement. Here and here are political diatribes against the current administration.

And even the Spanish signs have provoked the ire of vandals and xenophobes everywhere. When The Post ran an op-ed piece against the Spanish signs during the height of the anti-immigration debate last year, some straphangers decided to cut out the column and stick them behind the plastic ad coverings in the subway. If you see something, say something indeed.

So then is this ad campaign a success? Well, it’s used the world over, and everyone in the city immediately knows what you’re talking about when you mention it. But it seems more humorous than anything else. Everyday, I see weird sh*t in the subway. If I said anything all the time, well, then I would just have to start a blog about it.

Hey, wait a second….

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Marsha March 19, 2007 - 8:44 am

I’m saying, “Very funny.”

SUBWAYblogger March 20, 2007 - 9:33 pm Reply
If you see something on TV, say something « Second Ave. Sagas | Blogging the NYC Subways July 18, 2007 - 1:34 pm

[…] loves the MTA’s security campaigns. They’re great for everything from funny pictures of dogs and ad campaign knock-offs to cheesy MTA-related blog headlines to graffiti (such as the doctored […]


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