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Here's a nebulous thought. And it probably doesn't answer your question

Aren't all things in the urban landsacpe attention seeking? A park is there inviting us to walk through. A bench is there waiting to be sat on. Lift buttons are designed to be pressed. All these things ask us to engage with them. Advertising is no different. Advertising is only a nuisance when it's rubbish. And quite frankly there are a lot of rubbish ads out there (law of averages and bell curves and all that jazz) - so I'm sympathetic.

However, perhaps a total ban of outdoor advertising would be denying the right for people to see good ads?

May be you guys should regulate the output of outdoor ads instead (cos clearly the supply and demand model is failing to filter out rubbishness). You should only allow the appealing/funny/thoughtful/beautiful ads to be out there. Why not put a frame round these outdoor sites?

To this point - check out the new Guardian press + outdoor ads.
They are genuinely beautiful. I would happily put these up in my front room.

So yes..not only do I think people hate irrelevance but also ugliness and unthoughtfulness and laziness and general badness.

Good luck.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix for the problem because there is no way you can legislate things like taste, common sense and restraint. The best you can do is create reasonable guidelines and then ENFORCE them. In NYC, we have many rules about outdoor advertising (such as size restrictions, you can't put billboards near parks, schools, etc.) and they are routinely ignored. Please look at this link to see a particularly absurd (and illegal) example:


The law can do a lot to take care of that problem. Now here's an example of something perfectly legal but horribly ill advised. Recently Frank Gehry put up a new building in Chelsea along the Westside highway and someone in their infinite wisdom decided that since eyeballs are naturally going to go in that direction, why not put a giant billboard right in front:



I am not in advertising but I do keep up with the world of marketing as sort of an odd hobby (reading Russel's blog is just plain interesting). I fail to undertand why any planner would tell Gap that putting a billboard in front of a Frank Gehry building is a good thing for the brand. If anything, the ad makes me dislike the Gap. Urban spam is all about context and if there's any sort of silver lining in this all it's that one can only hope that the companies that go too far get their comeuppance / karmic retribution in the form of very bad ill will towards their brands.

Bottom line: you can't legislate common sense but tight rules that get enforced are never a bad thing. An outright ban (which *WOULD* be great in fantasy land) is not practical.

On a final, unrelated note: New Zealand is the most beautiful country ever! Love those pies.

My counter thoughts (prejudices?).

The entertainment of the Superbowl break is the band and it is that which really attracts the viewers' attention.

Is it possible that the 40% figure (amongst the 15% of viewing that was time-shifted) may be exagerated due to some users not actually knowing that they can fast-forward and/or due to fact that they were played but not actually watched (didn't this data come from hard-drives rather than diaries?)

Isn't the huge majority of advertising "irrelevant" to each of us at any specific time and thus hating irrelevant interruptions and hating advertising become very similar things?

On a positive note, I had a conversation at the last coffee morning with a Brasilian woman about a similar ban in Sao Paolo and she indicated an intention to attend this week.

At the first SF planning conference, Jeff Goodby suggested the best ads get the first slot in the ad break -similar to what Ed is suggesting. Sounds like a good solution -letting consumers vote on what gets allowed out there. A bit scary when you consider we Americans voted in Bush. But then the NZealanders have a much better taste both politically and creatively.

At the first SF planning conference, Jeff Goodby suggested the best ads get the first slot in the ad break -similar to what Ed is suggesting. Sounds like a good solution -letting consumers vote on what gets allowed out there. A bit scary when you consider we Americans voted in Bush. But then the NZealanders have a much better taste both politically and creatively.

Interesting that they think it's commercial messages that are preventing Auckland from being like Paris.

Do they think the streets of Paris are gloriously ad-free? I would suggest it's the opposite. Toulouse-Lautrec made his name in commercial art. Those round poster column things are icons of the city.


(What are they called?)

In the 19th century Paris took outdoor advertising to a new level.

And I bet there were similar debates then that are going on in Auckland today.

I am going to stop now cos I feel like one of those pedantic old sods who make the Times letters page such a delight.


Sir Dylan Trees KCB

I think Auckland should definately try this--not because I hate advertising, but because I don't think anyone knows (despite the comments here) how removing adverts actually impacts a city.

Would such a move be positive or negative? And how so? The only way to know is for some city to actually try. And if Auckland has the guts to be the one to try, good on them.

I don´t think people or society as a whole is actually hating advertising. Just think of all this Conusmer generated Advertising you can find all over the net. Which might also be the consumers way of letting us know what he would like to see, hence make advertising more interesting. Just a quick thought.

Oh the thing John said reminded me of a campaign for the Toyota Auris in Germany. They plastered pretty much every big city in germany with their Auris campaign. Really almost every advertising space was for the Toyota Auris. Besides beeing an very expensive investment which sales have to prove that it was worth it, I also noticed a funny thing: Because everything was only Auris the visual aura of the city actually seemed calmer. Just becasue there weren´t that many Brands screaming for attention. It was just one. Or almost. So taking down advertising or reducing it to one brand at a time actaully does make a difference.

"Does society as a whole actually hate advertising as proposed by Loerke in his recent address?

I would like to suggest a shift in the response by readdressing the question. Does society hate advertising that is not intended for them?

I think that people genuinely like a good suggestion. Tailing customers while they shop and watching them as they make a purchase decision certainly suggests that at least.

I also think that people like brands that represent who they are and thus give them a sense of belonging. Hanging out at a recent Scion event or at Starbucks certainly leads one to believe that.

The problem is that we have to see everyone else's suggestions or brand of choice whether we like or not. That lack of control I think is what’s driving the knee jerk response from your local council.

I think its par for the course of living in a democracy that we have to see other’s ads. I would also cite the attrition rate of messages as proof that we have mental filters that block unintended messages. Lastly, with the current revolution that our industry is undergoing that this kind of encroachment will become less and less.

Entertainment value. Yes, Ads are entertaining. We love them on tv, we don't mind seeing them placed in movies. We don't consider them invasive when they come to entertain us. When we do, we change the channel. We understand that tv/print/radio/web media solely survives on ads, its a give and take. These Ads Serve us.

Cities are our habitat. Outdoor ads are not a part of our habitat. Our cities do not depend on advt to survive. They merely serve as interferences and are (probably) left over from the era when there was no tv/radio etc... They may provide entertainment in some cases (times square) but unfortunately we can't switch cities off or change channels on them. Yes, outdoor ads are obtrusive and cities can live without them. These ads do not serve us. They don't focus on our social needs, they are self-centered, irrelevant and competitive. I would gladly accept outdoor ads if they do something good to the city, say.. maintain solar panels for street lights..

Intended audience. Cities belong to everyone. An ad doesn't speak to everyone. I think it's fine for an ad to pop up when you are in someone's domain, say in a stadium, concert hall, zoo etc.. They might serve a purpose if they are placed on contextual grounds. It's also fine when outdoor ads inform us of an event/crisis/psa etc..

When I think of ads and their impact on society, Jason's post comes to mind, where he went to a junior school and asked kids to define advt. Good read.


Living in London, I really wish they'd propose something similar here. You can't escape advertising in this place. It's intrusive, a blot on the landscape, and 95% of it is visual rubbish. The fact that 5% might be OK isn't a convincing enough argument to keep it. Plus I agree with John - it will be an interesting experiment to see what the effect on the city is. It might also force more advertisers and agencies to appreciate that they need to start creating things people want to see or be involved in because they increasingly can't rely on paid for media to intrude for them.

There is a growing cultural aversion to advertising.

The Yankelovich Marketing Resistance Survey tracks at an all time high for people actively avoiding advertising.

Bill Hicks:


Why? Overload, irrelevance, irritation, a lack of respect for "the audience", the fact the marketing is the public face of hyper capitalism and corporations and, in an age of crumbling notions of authority, be it government or corporatation, everyone suspects that they are probably up to no good. So as the public face, advertising becomes the scapegoat.

The fact that the rules for some don't apply to all - corporations have far more clout than people.

Advertising is the vandalism of the Fortune 500:


Even the brand thing is interesting. Young people claim to both shun brands and use them to define themselves.

People say advertising never works on them and then blame it for obesity in their children.

So what are we supposed to do?

Be honest. Don't claim things and then act in a different. Be interesting. Don't invade space, respect it. Be useful. Find ways to spend money that helps people.

Helping people builds relationships and that's what we're all about nowadays, isn't it?

Gossage on billboards:

"First, what is the difference between seeing an ad on a billboard and seeing an ad in a magazine? The answer, in a word, is permission– or, in three words, freedom of choice."


I think the other thing on that is that billboards exist purely for advertising. Unlike radio, TV, press, the internet - all media channels that I want to use and enjoy anyway, and ads just happen to be there. Media I choose to go to and engage with. Billboards are meaningless in terms of what they can offer me in terms of things I actually want to see. It's a media that exists purely to flog stuff. A media that has no value above and beyond being used by brands to make themselves look good. And for that reason they're a far less engaging, far more pointless, and far more irritating, media.

I think one of the key things to bear in mind is that outdoor advertising in any city has impact on two fronts; Culturally it is the pervading artform of the city environment, and context and quality are vital - bad art in the wrong place is wrong, and it's perfectly reasonable to hate bad art or in this case bad advertising. The second front is the economic impact that advertising has within a city, surely the city that has no messages or triggers of who, where and what is available in that city is seriously impacting on the economic viablity of those who rely on that messaging - consumer confidence and spending are now well used KPIs for any economic zone. Auckland's response is a baby and bathwater situation - and what happens when goverments agencies need to get messages to the population at large or when the politicians want to advertise themselves at election time... someone hasn't though this out
I'll get off my soapbox now
PS Imagine Picadilly Circus or Times Square without advertising!

We don't hate advertising, we just hate getting information when it's not on our own terms.

We are more than willing to research products, services and companies as long as we do it when we want and how we want.

The problem with billboards is that the information they provide is not on our terms. We have no say in the matter.

Also, have you ever heard anyone say: "You HAVE to see this billboard. It's amazing."

I haven't. Maybe that says something about our feelings toward this type of media...

people don't hate advertising, they hate bad, boring, irrelevant advertising. The good stuff, they treat that as pop culture.

Well, how are commerce and vibrancy at opposite ends? Maybe a city without advertising would look more like East Berlin than Paris.

Also, there is a line somewhere between a lost dog poster and a Gap billboard. Where is it? The thought of advertising conjures giant corporations that put the same billboard up in 12 countries around the world. Not always so, right?


This comes mighty late, will more or less say the same thing but nevertheless, might just help.

Fundamentally, outdoors were designed to play the role of a reminder medium. You saw something on the telly or in the papers and then saw it again on the road. So, it is intrinsically something that reinforces. Unfortunately, media hotshots or the not-so-hot ones have taken this liberty to "reinforce" their messages wherever they can.

Due to this incessant, irrelevant and unnecessary bombardment even the good ones get the brickbat. The truth is, bad advertising never worked, never will. And if the ad is bad, it does need to scream for attention by putting itself up at nooks and corners where the last thing you need is someone desperately trying to make a sale.

Now just as there's Net Nanny, there needs to be a Billboard Nanny for each city, why just Auckland! The city authorities could allocate a certain number of OOH (Out Of Home) sites for agencies to put up their frames, monopoles, translides et al. This allocation could be based on the purpose, architecture, crowd profile, traffic conditions of the area. E.g.: The CBD could have more sites, areas with parks or places for recreational activities could have lesser ones, hopsitals and schools could have bare minimum sites.

Moral: a robber will find a way in, or find another house. Advanced security systems will only reduce the number of robberies. Similarly, advertisers (desperate as we are) will find a way in to the minds of customers or find other customers. Banning outdoors will only reduce the bombardment to an extent.


Billboard ban in São Paulo angers advertisers


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