R.I.P. City Paper
The City Paper was the publication that everyone in Philadelphia went to for entertainment news: what bands were coming into town, what movies were worth seeing, what gallery openings were worth attending. It was also where businesses advertised to reach the young people in Philly, so when Infinite was established in 1994 it was the first place we chose to advertise.
Infinite ran ads in the Philly City Paper almost uninterrupted for close to twenty years, from late 1994 until August of last year. We started inside the paper, in the entertainment section, and then later moved our ad to the back page—going full-color in 2009—where it stayed unto last year. We did other print advertising here-and-there through the years, in student planners, collegiate coupon books, and event programs, but these were all one-off ads. With City Paper, we had something in it every week, year-round.
Our City Paper advertising was a place to show off the personality of the shop, to play around with who we were (and by extension, who we thought our customers were). Before the internet was everywhere, it was the main place we reached out to our clients. We’ve had a online presence since the summer of 1997, when Shannon Laratt (founder of BME) set up our first site while he was living in Philly. But for anyone who remembers, early sites were not easily updated by anyone without moderate computer skills, so our City Paper ads were where we made our announcements: for guest piercers, and staff members changes, and anything else that was of interest to our clients. Going through our ads, you not only see our history, but you start to see a timeline of how we saw ourselves.
Most of the models were us: members of the staff, our friends, and customers we were close to. (Many of whom went on to became our friends.) We were all excited when new ads came out. Back then, seeing yourself in the paper was exciting, and people who posed for our City Paper insertions were often recognized outside the studio. Several guest piercers said they were approached when they went out for dinner or drink: (“I know you…. You’re in the newspaper!”) Almost everyone was surprised with their 15 minutes of fame, even though readers seemed to forget that our models weren’t in the paper because they were famous, but that we simply paid to have their ad run! It didn’t matter though; having your picture in the paper meant you were someone important.
As the internet became ubiquitous, we kept up with our City Paper advertising. Even at the launch of the updated infinitebody.com in May of last year, we were still running our weekly ad. But by then the death of the City Paper was imminent. The size of the publication had gone from a thick alternative weekly to an anemic collection of ads and barely-there articles. The internet had won the battle of media and everyone knew it. When we told our ad rep we were finally canceling our ad, she didn’t even try to talk us out of it.
Our web site now does everything we were trying to do through print for all those years—and it obviously does so much more. City Paper lingered long after it was relevant, but most of us here in Philadelphia who read it over the past three decades remember it fondly, and here at Infinite it was a big part of our history.
R.I.P. City Paper.