Peace, Love, and Linux

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IBM's Peace, Love, and Linux advertising campaign, sidewalk graffiti, observed on April 20, 2001 9:39:38 AM in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Commercial speech masquerading as street art. On an April morning in 2001 on my way to work, I noticed this curious graffiti on the sidewalk, right on the corner where I lived. Was this a clever ad campaign? It was too neat and clean to be graffiti. As I suspected, it turned out to be an ad masterminded by Ogilvy and Mather for IBM's Linux-based e-server push with the theme of peace, love, and Linux, represting the union of IBM the corporate establishment with Linux and it's counter-cultural roots. In several cities including New York and San Francisco city officials complained. Usually corporations pay for their ad space. IBM refused to comment on whether the graffiti was illegal or not, however, they eventually pulled the ads. All the press and protest I'm sure helped make the campaign a success.

View 9 more comments

  1. kino-eye 102 months ago | reply

    Chance that it was done by a student? Yes, but a very small one... this was in fact an ad campaign...

  2. madreaper 100 months ago | reply

    Appluad that pic

  3. rarara77 [deleted] 91 months ago | reply

    Nice Picture.

  4. kino-eye 90 months ago | reply

    Thanks for the continued comments on this photo, one of my more popular ones.

  5. Mehedi Rahman (Ehab) 89 months ago | reply

    Hey kino-eye, lovely capture :)

    I have used this picture in one of my articles. Please check it out in my blog.

  6. Hotash 88 months ago | reply

    i was invited to add to this group. . .i think you should consider adding to
    One Million Peace Signs

  7. malagent 87 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Have you seen Tux?, and we'd love to have your photo added to the group.

  8. Michael Hendrickx 83 months ago | reply

    Very nice, awesome shot.

  9. lukasz.sliwa 77 months ago | reply

    I use linux a lot of time and it's my best system ever, so when I see word 'linux' with 'peace and love' i feel very nice. Thanks a lot!

  10. toxygen1 76 months ago | reply

    I have such t-shirt for 4 years now, never realized it was ibm campaign :)
    I always thought it was "Peace loves Linux"

  11. JonyTut 72 months ago | reply

    Can I use this pic in our Novosibirsk Linux User Group site?

  12. kino-eye 72 months ago | reply

    Of course, the image is licensed with a CC Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.0 license, use as you will, especially for something Linux related!

  13. ajswillis 71 months ago | reply

    I just found this while doing some research for my book. I was the Vice President of Integrated Marketing Communications for IBM and responsible for this campaign. IBM pulled the campaign becuase of this - against my better judgement. Our intent was to fuel the Linux movement, start a popular revolution. We achieved a lot in a short time. However big corporations can't, and probably shouldn't behave like small ones. IBM were embarrassed. They pulled a great campaign too soon. We paid, I think, $6 million to the cities involved. We had teams of people scouring the streets looking for the stencils. We hated the firm who promised to execute with chalk dust and didn't. Black, indelible, water resistant paint takes a lot of getting off. Especially in San Francisco where the chemicals you use elsewhere are banned!
    Another lesson to strengthen life!
    Thought people might like to know the story. My greatest sadness was that the Ogilvy team who found the insights and created the campaign lost out to poor execution.

    Here are some links to other related material.
    On the second link you'll find we did start a revolution. This was others joing the revolution!

  14. kino-eye 71 months ago | reply

    ajswillis, thank you for posting your note and sharing your insights into this fascinating campaign along with the links!

  15. cosmonautirussi 69 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

    Found in a search. (?)

  16. kino-eye 69 months ago | reply

    @cosmonautirussi, done!

  17. rs222 66 months ago | reply


  18. Superlekker 53 months ago | reply

    Good advertising. Love it.

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