Finished just two days ago, the Jägermeister mural says: “Relive the night: You became legends on Cap Hill.”
But the ad campaign is bombing with people who actually live in Capitol Hill, the city’s historically gay neighborhood. For one thing, no self-respecting denizen would ever call it “Cap Hill” (a term strictly used by rural and suburban types struggling to sound colloquial). Moreover, the ads play into the worst fears of many locals who have watched the neighborhood become a magnet for racist, homophobic, violent bigots who drink themselves into a stupor—maybe doing shots of Jägermeister—and then attack people of color, gay people, and drag queens. Mike Hogan, who runs the hate-crime division at the King County prosecutor’s office, told The Stranger last year, “It’s common to see people not from our area… go up to the Pike/Pine district and offend there.” He said that “heavy intoxication” is linked to the crimes. “You just don’t get clean and sober defendants out harassing people like this.”
The locals fear, and the ad seems to confirm, that Capitol Hill is now being marketed as a destination for people unfamiliar with—or even hostile to—diverse urban cultures to visit, get shitfaced, and have delusions of legendary grandeur.
Which has led to quick counter-ad-campaign of all over the neighborhood,including this pretty genius posters:
About a dozen designs by Dax Ed Word Anderson that have appeared on poles in the last 48 hours.
Ryan Hoon, a cook at Linda’s Tavern, posted the flyers to push back against what he sees as the neighborhood’s exploitation.
“The high rises keep going up, the rent keeps going up, and the wrong crowd keeps coming in,” says Hoon in an e-mail. “Higher and higher incidences of violence coupled with homophobia, racism and sexism keep happening… I’ve fucking had enough, the flyers may be small, but it’s something… I don’t want to be forced out from new money and the fist pumping asshole.”
In other words, this looks like another case of businesses leveraging Capitol Hill’s attractiveness to sell their product—like diverse urban centers all over the world—and, in the process, destroying the very things that made it attractive in the first place. Jägermeister did not reply to a request for comment.