12 Oct 2007
Dean wrote to me following the ban in Sao Paulo to let me know that it is now the politicians in Auckland, New Zealand, that are looking to outlaw billboards. However, they didn’t expect the advertising industry to fight back with a bit of characteristic creativity and develop a campaign to highlight what lies beneath the billboards (see examples below and full story here [Update: Link no longer works]). I like their efforts but feel more inclined to agree with Howard Gossage when he talks about billboards “trespassing” on our vision. How I square this with my interest in the painted variety I don’t know. Perhaps it is because of the craftsmanship that has gone into getting them on the wall, their relative permanence, or that they are now so rare when compared to the ubiquitous billboard?
My other observation would be that, in some cases, what lies beneath the billboard is an old painted ad, so on that level I’d welcome a few coming down. It’s perhaps a case of finding a balance so that we don’t feel bombarded and trespassed upon and that the built environment can still have some role in communications. Also, that we preserve some of the best remaining examples of the painted variety (and the printed perhaps too?).