Corona Files Publicity

Call for a Miracle

It is common knowledge that public space offers abundant opportunities for (commercial) publicity. City councils supplement their tight budgets with lucrative contracts for exploiting billboards in public space, with big companies such as JC Decaux. The commercially most attractive locations are those where people tend to spend ’empty’ time; traffic lights, bus stops, etc.

But during the lockdown most of these contracts were suspended; since streets and squares were void of people exposure to a big audience was no longer guaranteed. To avoid billboards standing empty – which might enhance the feeling of social unsafety – and to convey a positive message posters like these were put up: ‘things will get better’.

The image above is promotion for an exhibition about miracles at the Museum Catherijne Convent in Utrecht. It says ‘Call for a Miracle’ and after dialing the telephone number indicated you enter a menu proposing 3 choices. Option 1: “Do you want to hear a miracle?” Option 2: “Do you want to share a miracle?” But especially option 3 appeals to the imagination: “Do you want to experience a miracle?”

This accidental public message of hope was more comforting to me than the official one.