In the same perverse vein as advertising on taxis, escalator handrails, and pizza boxes, comes the latest in blatant and gratuitous advertising on everyday objects. My seemingly ordinary Chinese food boxes are now 3-dimensional ads for … Spanish-language news on a local cable channel?

Ads on Chinese food packaging
Chinese food box plastered on every surface with ads for Noticias on NY1

Putting aside for a second the obvious initial shock of holding a bright blue and yellow chinese food box, I have only two questions: When did Chinese food boxes, those cherished symbols of urban existence, become an advertising medium? And, do Latinos, the obvious target audience for these particular ads, eat much Chinese food?

My answers, as an advertising cynic and packaging purist, of course are “they’re not” and “no”, respectively. My roommate pointed out an interested point that this could in some way ignite a movement of free, ad-supported food. Give away the product, and fund the venture based on the advertising dollars. You figure, if these boxes were in the hands of X families per night, that’s Y eyeballs on the news, and that leads to Z sales in products from those ads. It’s like a perverted Mobiüs strip of over-stimuli and forced-fed consumerism … no pun intended. This being Brooklyn, there are many different nationalities all living on top of one another, but to place ads in languages other than English is always controversial, even on New York soil, and especially for a neighborhood that is still mainly English-speaking. Yes, we see many Spanish language advertising in the South Bronx and parts of Spanish Harlem, but in Williamsburg? Even on the South side, I think the Puerto Ricans are in the minority. Maybe they should have written the copy in Yiddish. Then again, I’d be shocked if Chinese food were Kosher.

This deserves a major WTF for A.) slapping advertising on an inappropriate and unwilling medium, and B.) existing as a total non-sequitur demographically. I hope this sort of thing does not catch on. In fact, I hope that people complain and throw back these boxes.

Side note: ordering Chinese food in Puerto Rico, to Spanish-speaking Chinese immigrants, is the single most bizarre experience I’ve ever endured. Maybe from that awkwardness could spawn a really interesting idea…