Have you been seeing more subway ads pushing food delivery on you lately? No surprise there. Every year as temperatures cool down in NYC, #brands can be relied on to swoop into our advertising spaces to 1) remind us that we are animal creatures born to hibernate, and 2) seduce us with modern-day arguments for never leaving the house.
We can easily point to Seamless in the police lineup as one of the most frequent offenders. It’s the food delivery company whose enabling convenience everyone loves to hate, and in a city like New York, where there are at least as many food options as there are pigeons, it’s insulting that Seamless has managed to sink its toothy cleats into our foodie turf.
But now, it’s a problem. Earlier this year, we pointed out how Seamless’ subway ads were turning New Yorkers soft by recommending they order in rather than engaging with the outside world or, god forbid, cook something. We’d hoped that a stern public censure, along with the horror of Donald Trump, might encourage these foodie tycoons to embrace our New York values and promote the city’s love of its own citizenry. Instead, much to our dismay, Seamless subway ads are worse than ever.
Take, for instance, the newest Seamless ad above (spotted in the West 4th St. subway station) which claims that “Nothing ruins a good meal like other New Yorkers.”
First of all, what? Native New Yorkers are a welcome occurrence in any food establishment here. Nothing ruins a good meal like tourists, on the other hand, which is why we avoid overblown spots like Katz’s Deli and Dominique Ansel’s Cronut® line like the plague. New Yorkers are the rare friends who can commiserate over how crappy a rainbow bagel really is, or why bad service at a restaurant doesn’t stop them from enjoying the best bowl of spaghetti in the city on a regular basis. And New Yorkers are real arbiters of taste, because they’ve spent years trying out multiple restaurants instead of clicking through a few nearby four-starred options from an online directory.
But it’s more than that. By suggesting that New Yorkers ruin a fundamentally New York experience (i.e. eating) and suggesting “zero human contact,” these ads presume to cancel facts of the city’s identity, and would have it reduced to that of other American cities where folks spend their time making xenophobic assumptions about one another instead of actually getting to know their neighbors.
Promoting xenophobia among New Yorkers isn’t the only issue with these subway ads; they’re also enabling privilege like gangbusters. Here, have another one of ’em: “You made rent. Celebrate by not making dinner.”
Making rent isn’t cause for celebration so much as a prerequisite for survival, but Seamless would like you to treat it as an excuse to spend even more money. “Shop therapy,” fyi, is privilege incarnate, a practice of rewarding money (problems) with mo’ money (problems). As a local blog promoting small business, we’re certainly guilty of having told you to treat yourself to small indulgences now and again. But we do so with an awareness of the fine balance between hustle and reward, as opposed to a blatant disregard for the hustlers themselves. Remember, Seamless just said you’re the worst.
Plus chances are, if you just made/paid rent, you’re not looking to spend another $15+ on a meal. You wanna celebrate? Great, invite a friend over and split the cost of a cheap bodega meal, or crawl through the free bar food options in your neighborhood. If you have the cash to spend, go out for a meal and experience something near other humans! That’s what you deserve! Not a stuffed, leaking plastic bag with three different types of lukewarm curry from a fake restaurant showing up at your door.
Look, we could unpack everything that Seamless just doesn’t “get” about New York City, but the company’s recent ad campaign gives far more cause for alarm than ire. Months out from Trump’s America, we’re already seeing thousands of hate crimes across the country that the president-elect has yet to address. New York may feel like a safe place to organize and plan for action with our neighbors — no thanks to Seamless’ shitty gentrification jokes, either — but it won’t be for long unless we believe in the power of the city and its denizens. And that includes leaving the house to forage for food, interacting with other New Yorkers, and continuing to find common ground in the aisles of the grocery store.
‘Sides, if we really wanted zero human contact, we wouldn’t have stayed in New York City in the first place.
Sam’s not sorry on Twitter, either: @ahoysamantha