The strike is over—no thanks to advertising

MtaFirst thing Tuesday morning, I flipped on New York 1, the local 24-hour news channel, expecting to see word that the threatened “work action” had been averted. No dice. I decided to work from home, while keeping on top of developments via NY1. The first commercial break featured a Transit Workers Union spot with workers explaining their case for walking off the job and stranding 7 million commuters. I was impressed at the speed of the delivery, if not the production values, and the choice to use workers to speak directly to pissed-off New Yorkers. The next break, the ad was back. And the next. And the next. And so on. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority responded later in the week with a rush job of its own: a guy in a mustache and ill-fitting suit sitting behind a desk, urging workers to cross the picket lines. It turns out that Larry Reuter, some high-up stooge at the MTA, owns the mustache and suit. It’s pretty telling that the tone-deaf MTA didn’t use the commercial to address the 7 million New Yorkers stuck in the middle of their little power play. (The MTA had the message posted on its site; fittingly, the video didn’t work.) Oddly enough, neither side chose to advertise online. No ads on, or Gothamist (which had the best strike coverage, by the way). Search for “New York transit strike” on Google, and the results had ads from The New York Times, ABC 6 and Didn’t the TWU and MTA want to reach the many searching for strike info?

—Posted by Brian Morrissey