updated 10:55 am EST, Tue November 10, 2009
Banner replaced without warning
The latest incarnation of a controversial Boston iPod ad has been pulled from the building on which it hung, says the Boston Herald. Measuring some 13,750 square feet, a 2007 banner was larger than normally allowed, and deemed illegal by the state's Outdoor Advertising Board. One or more versions have nevertheless remained in place well through 2009; in June the responsible companies secured a permit after paying a $110,000 penalty.
Controversy has centered over allegations that David Passafaro, an aide to Boston mayor Thomas Menino, helped to arrange the permit on behalf of a business colleague, one directly involved in the ad campaign's inception. The mayor himself is said to have endorsed the advertising, despite nominally being against new billboards. Passafaro's colleague, Greg John, has been a regular political donor to Menino since 2005.
The iPod advertising has now been replaced with a mural depicting killer whales, though no explanation has so far been given. Neither the city's Redevelopment Authority nor the Inspectional Services Department are said to be aware of a takedown order, and no comment has been returned from John, Apple, or building owner Bryce Grefe. The switch could be an attempt to deflect criticism on the part of one or more of the participants, or simply an end to Apple's plans.