Shasta la Vista

Art historians oohed and aahed. Preservationists talked landmark status. Shasta happily planned a campaign, a contest and a “limited edition” can. All to salute a vintage 1950s Shasta wall ad, hidden for decades, that San Franciscans were calling “miracle art.”

That is, before Nike came along and sat on it.

The ad, with an image of California’s historic Mount Shasta and the famous tag, “It hasta be Shasta,” was revealed when wind ripped aging panels off the David Hewes Building. Shasta moved quickly, putting a cartoony Flash re-enactment on Shasta of the panels being blown off, and offering $10,000 and a huge batch of soda to anyone who could identify the original artist. A special Shasta can with the building’s image is also in the works.

But, strangely, the building owner says Shasta didn’t respond when he asked if it wanted to keep the ad. So he booked Nike’s Paul Pierce basketball ad instead. “I was surprised Shasta was out of the loop,” says Henry K. Lee, the San Francisco Chronicle reporter who broke the story. “We were chuckling around the newsroom because Nike has the phrase ‘Just do it.’ Well, they just did it.”

Nike’s ad is on removable acrylic, and Shasta is now working to get it taken down, and has talked to Mayor Willie Brown about the landmark issue. “There’s still a chance people will see this,” says a Shasta employee. “This was a pure case of misunderstanding.”