Thank you to Paula Rees for tipping us off to this newscast and to her work in Seattle.
We have a problem in one way or the other. As an activist who pays close attention to the relationship between outdoor media and public space, I take issue with the images that we allow ourselves to be surrounded with. I believe that there are serious negative consequences associated with the excessive consumption of consumer messages. These include negative affects on our social behavior towards one another, and towards our environment in general. The basis of these beliefs can be contested.
Alongside my disdain for using public space as another commercial outlet, there are the real examples of behavior by those who peddle the messages I contest which I think speaks volumes to the nature of the messages and to the system which is allowing those messages to reach our ears. Out of Home advertising companies are notorious for flouting the law and reaping profits by abusing normal expectations of public space use. I believe that their cavalier behavior is indicative of an industry which has not been held accountable for the affects that its product has on our civil society.
This news report is the most direct indictment of behaviors which are all to typical of this industry. If skirting the law and pushing the boundaries which we have all setup in a democratic and law abiding society is the norm for this industry, I think we should all think hard about this industries viability in a properly functioning city. Under what circumstances would we allow an industry to so flagrantly break the law?
Together, we setup environmental controls to protect our health. If other industries responsible for contributing to environmental hazards flouted the law in the same way that the OOH industry does, we would shut them down with a swift pen to paper and right the wrong that they were propagating through their flagrant disregard for public health. Sadly the research is not there to indict these OOH companies on the negative affects their business has on our social fabric.
What we are left with are the actions of an industry, which might give us some insight into not only the industries motives, but ultimately to the product that they are pushing on an unwitting public. Do we trust our mental health to a company which is affecting our every thought by propagating images which have a direct affect on our decision making and social behavior, but doing so by operating so far outside of the law?
My immediate answer is no. If your business model relies so heavily on manipulating the meaning of the law, stretching and bending fact to fit your needs, most likely the business you are running is not one that is healthy for the society in which it exists. Time and time again, companies like Total outdoor, NPA/Contest Promotions, Van Wagner and many others push back against regulations citizens have setup to control commercial messaging in an effort to reap huge profits. As a society it is time to demand compliance and take a serious look at the nature of public space and what images we deem fit for a properly function city.
Labels: ad creep, advertising, illegal advertising, public advertising, public/private, video