Newest St. Pete Campaign Trick: Chalk Ads

IMG_2973Even if you don’t know who Jacob Christiano is, chances are you’ve seen his work: long poems carefully lettered in brightly colored chalk along St. Petersburg sidewalks. Or, more recently, Christiano’s work has appeared on the grounds of the Saturday Morning Market, directing visitors by chalk to food and craft vendors like some guerrilla copywriter. But over the last few weeks, Christiano’s eye-catching handprints have found another niche: political campaign ads.

Earlier this month, Christiano’s perfectly chalked prose invited voters to have a drink with mayoral candidate Jamie Bennett. For a small fee, of course, he’s colored downtown with other messages for Bennett’s campaign. Now, he’s doing work for city council candidate Karl Nurse.

This is the first time I’ve seen chalk ads used in any major political campaign. Sure, my activist friends in college used to scrawl messages on the sidewalk urging students to boycott some corporation or show up and protest the administration for one slight or another, but never a (wannabe) elected official actually paying money to look, well, hip.

And, despite the views of some political pundits, I like the concept. For one, Christiano is a good artist that adds character to sometimes sterile downtown St. Pete and deserves to make some dough off a service he’s done free for the last few years. Also, chalk campaigning is environmentally-friendly. Without it, Bennett could have printed up a few hundred paper fliers announcing his “bartender for a night” campaign schtick. But instead, he chose another medium that washed off with the next rain.

That’s kind of cool. Much more hip than these hokey bartender for a night gimmicks. But that’s another blog post …

3 thoughts on “Newest St. Pete Campaign Trick: Chalk Ads”

  1. Peter Schorsch says:

    You are far more generous than I am, Alex. But what I really didn’t like was the Bartender for a Night events. It’s not so much an insult to voters, but an insult to Bartenders.

    1. Alex Pickett says:

      I completely agree. Although I will say one positive thing about the bartender gimmicks: they are possibly the only time you can actually vomit on a future mayor without getting in too much trouble. And that’s kind of cool.

  2. Leanne says:

    St Pete’s political candidates should not be proud to associate with “Jacob Christiano” (real name Hans George Honschar). I have had several negative experiences with him where he has sexually harassed me and my friends, and has gotten downright physically threatening when we refused his lewd comments and advances. I also witnessed him yelling anti-gay slurs at a friend of mine on a separate occasion while she was peacefully walking down the street. He has been arrested several times, for charges that include aggravated assault and trespassing on school grounds. This guy puts on a fake persona to con business owners to pay him for chalk advertising. People out there in the area need to know what this loser is really all about.

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