Crossroads Refuses to Suffer ‘Clever Fools’ Gladly

Crossroads owners are upset by a 'guerilla' marketing campaign that's papered their neighborhood. (Image courtesy Downtown Council)

By Kevin Collison

A leafleting campaign by a Mission company that brags about its “unique style of guerrilla marketing” has papered the Crossroads Arts District to the point City Hall is being asked to prepare vandalism charges.

“What a burden to lay this upon the urban community when we’re already dealing with so many relevant issues,” said Suzie Aron, a former chair of the Crossroads Community Association and one of the district’s best-known advocates.

“That we should have to peel these off all these surfaces because this marketing company thinks they’re doing some clever. What is wrong with people?”

The firm is called Clever Fools and its website describes it as engaging in edgy practices to market its clothing line.

“We strive to deliver a unique style of guerrilla marketing,” it states.

“Which connects the streets to our brand through multiple mediums such as graffiti, street art, skateboarding, and overall youth culture.

“People don’t just buy Clever Fools for what the product is, but for the idea and story behind why we do what we do.”

Published reports and Kansas state records indicate Clever Fools is run by Alex Trinkle of Mission. Trinkle could not be reached for comment.

In a letter earlier this week to Crossroads business owners and others, Sean O’Byrne, Downtown Council vice president, said he’s reached out to the City Attorney’s Office in response to the leafleting.

O’Byrne said he was “blown away” by the amount of stuff plastered by Clever Fools in the area.

The city attorney’s office has been asked to investigate the Clever Fools campaign as an act of vandalism. (Image courtesy Downtown Council)

“They are doing posters, bills, banners and stickers. I took several pictures, but couldn’t possibly send you all of them,” he wrote.

“I don’t know about you guys, but I get a little offended when an out-of-state company comes in and takes a giant dump in my neighborhood.

“Especially when it’s not even an attempt at ‘art,’ but marketing for his product line.”

O’Byrne said the police department assigned a detective to investigate. He told Crossroads representative the detective found videos on the Clever Fools website showing people applying the stickers and posters.

“It even had a plea from the owner to ‘Come on out and get your stickers,’ O’Byrne wrote. “The detective sent the videos over to the City Attorney’s Office.”

Photos of the locations where Clever Fools leaflets were plastered also have been forwarded to the city Action Center to help prepare a vandalism case for prosecutors.

The Downtown Council manages a community improvement district for the downtown area within the freeway Loop and the River Market that employs workers to quickly clean up graffiti and flyers.

The Crossroads Community Association was in the final stage of the process to start a petition drive to launch its own CID when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Aron said that effort has been suspended for now, leaving individuals to clean up the mess.

“Our (Crossroads Community Association) board had to talk about it and then we began peeling them off light poles,” Aron said.

“It was a useless amount of energy on everybody’s behalf.”

In his letter, O’Byrne suggested a good place to dispose of the material.

“Let’s do a clean up some Saturday, tear them down, bag them up and return them to his front lawn in Mission.”

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  1. They literally sell a t-shirt called the “Crimes Not Art Tee.” The entire brand comes across as a bad experiment in what would happen if you gave a business to an angsty teenage boy from an upper-middle class suburban family. You’re not “street”, bud; you’re just not getting enough attention from your parents and now you’re lashing out.

  2. Hey Alex Trinkle you and your “Street” flavored mentality is another reason why First Fridays are dead, permanently. Business owners got tired of all the “street”ness like this taking over everything. Good job buddy!

  3. It’s easy to counter illegal postings of fliers or plastic signs. It’s called altering. With minimal graphic skills… turn Fools into “Tools.” We buy homes… add “Free 3 dozen cookies with call.” … or overlay… “used microwaves” over “homes” …. Alterations or “corrections” can be done in vinyl adhesive, or a lamination with mailing tape, then adhered with mailing tape. Get creative, it can be fun. It is justifiable… just don’t use profanity or be mean… unless you think having them receive calls unrelated to their scams as mean. Don’t change phone numbers… just solicitations. Some small businesses may not understand this is illeagal, but this may help inform them. I am making up rules as type, so I welcome thought on proper “corrections.” It should only be done to illegally posted signs… They might disappear in a few days.

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