Tag Archives: billboard

Life’s WORC thanks Geraldo Rivera with Times Square billboard as he continues to survive on ‘Celebrity Apprentice’

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Photo by Alex Coroneos

Geraldo Rivera has made it through five episodes of “The Celebrity Apprentice,” where he has raised more than $700,000 for Life’s WORC. And the nonprofit is thanking him on an enormous billboard hanging above Times Square.

The electronic billboard, which is currently running at Broadway and 47th Street , is telling people to watch Rivera as he raises money for his charity Life’s WORC on the reality TV competition show.

The shoutout is thanks to Life’s WORC Executive Board Member at Large Rick Del Mastro who owns the billboard, according to the agency’s Assistant Executive Director of Development and Public Affairs Matt Zebatto.

“It’s a significant amount of money [that Rivera has won] and it’s giving us national recognition,” Zebatto said.

Established 44 years ago by The Queens Courier publisher Victoria Schneps with help from Rivera, Life’s WORC, which is based in Garden City, provides services to some 1,400 people with developmental disabilities in eastern Queens, Nassau County and western Suffolk.

Since Rivera has raised $740,000 for Life’s WORC through “Celebrity Apprentice” so far, Del Mastro and the agency wanted to show their appreciation.

“How did you do this?” a thankful Rivera said upon learning about the billboard.

Photo courtesy of Life's WORC

Photo courtesy of Life’s WORC

They are also planning on using the billboard soon to thank individual donors, who have given money during fundraising challenges on the show.

On the Jan. 12 episode, where as team leader Rivera raised $294,780, one donor wrote him a $99,999 check.

Life’s WORC hopes Rivera’s appearance on “Celebrity Apprentice” not only gives the agency national recognition, but also gives it “some breathing room in its budgeting and finances since New York State has been economizing, reducing funds available in the developmental disabilities field,” said Janet Koch, Life’s WORC executive director.

The nonprofit is opening a 10,000-square-foot Family Center for Autism next to its Garden City headquarters this April, which will have 60 programs for autistic children and their families, according to Zebatto.

“Geraldo’s winnings will enable Life’s WORC to serve more people in its Family Center for Autism,” Schneps said. “Our new building will forever be a center of excellence with superbly qualified staff to provide desperately needed programs.”

The Celebrity Apprentice,” airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on NBC.


Brooklyn artist reveals interactive public art project on Sunnyside billboard

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Margeaux Walter

Keep calm and look up, Sunnyside. That’s the message behind one artist’s new interactive project hitting the skies of the western Queens neighborhood.

The organization 14×48 revealed its latest public art project with Brooklyn artist Margeaux Walter on Tuesday on a billboard located on Greenpoint Avenue between 45th and 46th streets.

The project, “Keep Calm Billboard,” features a collection of different uses of the slogan “Keep Calm and Carry On” covered all over the vacant space and will be up for a minimum of four weeks.

Walter decided to use the slogan in reference to advertising and consumer culture. The slogan originated in the British Stationary Office during World War II and was created as war propaganda but never distributed.

She added that she was given several options for locations, but chose Sunnyside because it is close to where she lives and a community she frequently visits.

“The slogan is not one that fits into a specific class or ethnicity of people, but rather is universally recognized and used,” Walter said. “I wanted the billboard to be in a neighborhood that was both multicultural, and also in a commercial and heavily trafficked pedestrian area.”

Walter is also inviting people to tweet their own “Keep Calm” message with the hashtag #keepcalm14x48. The tweets will then be made into postcards and distributed along Greenpoint Avenue and at Ave Coffee House, located at 45-01 Greenpoint Ave.

The messages will also be available as a Twitter feed at http://www.14×48.org/campaigns.html#campaign7.

“My hopes is that people will tweet their messages, and then grab a postcard from another community member, turning this advertising slogan into a personalized message,” Walter said. “In turn the voices of community members will be a form of advertising campaign, one that is actually about the individual and not the consumer.”

This installation is 14×48’s seventh project in the city. The organization repurposes vacant billboards as public art space in order to open the door for emerging artists to have more opportunities in public art and to brighten the urban environment.


‘Offensive’ billboard taken down

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo Courtesy of Senator Toby Ann Stavisky

A shot at advertising for one vodka company didn’t go down as smoothly as planned.

A Willets Point billboard — declared offensive by local leaders — read “Escort Quality, Hooker Pricing.” The provocative message, officials feared, could potentially reverse efforts and resources put into developing the area into a residential, retail center for families.

The sign hung above 127th Place and Northern Boulevard, overlooking Citi Field, before local leaders said they pushed to have manufacturers take it down.

“The offensive nature of this ad in such close proximity to a family destination like Citi Field was highly inappropriate,” said Assemblymember Michael Simanowitz, who worked alongside Senator Toby Ann Stavisky to have the billboard removed. “Keeping such content out of the view of young children should be a priority.”

Stavisky and Simanowitz said they wrote to James Dale, CEO of Panache Beverages — which manufacturers the promoted Wodka Vodka brand — to urge the company to consider removing their ad.

Soon after, they said the company complied, and the sign came down on Monday, March 12.

“I’m glad the vodka company agreed to remove the billboard. We took particular exception with placing such a distasteful and disturbing advertisement in a neighborhood we have worked so hard to rehabilitate,” Stavisky said.

However, according to a marketing executive for Wodka Vodka, the company took down the slogan simply and only because “the campaign ran its course.”

“Contrary to apparent memos that have been circulating in the community, we did not take the billboard down because of supposed community uproar, letters or other pressures,” said Brian Gordon, CEO of Engine Shop, the marketing agency that handles Wodka Vodka. “We’ve always stood by the campaign.”

Gordon cited data that shows “at least 80 to 90 percent of people actually look at the billboard favorably.”

“There are much more serious issues going on. Community leaders should focus on jobs, the economy, crime and so on, rather than a billboard that was obviously created to be humorous,” he said.

But Stavisky said the issue is not “a silly distraction.” The sobering truth, she said, is that it “sends a message that denigrating women is acceptable, or worse, fashionable.”

Gordon said the company plans to put up new billboards next week. While he said he did not yet know the location, “there will be at least one site in Queens,” he said.

This is not the first time Panache Beverages has been slammed for its unfavorable marketing campaigns. Last November, a Manhattan-placed advertisement read “Christmas Quality, Hanukkah Pricing,” which incensed the Anti-Defamation League and was ordered to be taken down.