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Is there a place for billboards in Canberra?

By 30 July 2014 14

canturf-billboard

As I navigate through the winding streets of Canberra, taking in the beautiful mountains and cityscape, I can’t help but be amused by the very rare billboard seeking my attention.

It’s usually the amusing ‘on-premise’ Canturf puns, pitched along the Monaro Highway coming past Fyshwick, which we’ve all grown to love, or the giant billboard on the side of Canberra Theatre informing us of upcoming entertainment. Then there’s the cleverly crafted Casino Canberra billboard just outside of Canberra. Apart from these there’s not many more.

I’m wondering what people think about the lack of billboards in the city here and if we should signpost more of these tastefully created marketing campaigns throughout the city. Northbourne Avenue perhaps?

We have a uniqueness to our city that we need to protect. I’m not suggesting that the CBD should look cluttered like Time Square in New York but maybe our city’s town planners could select appropriate sites, without being overly bureaucratic.

Maybe a self regulated approach or a Creative Review Board could be set up to approve imagery to ensure quality control. According to the Outdoor Media Association (OMA) as little as 0.26% of signs are deemed offensive and have complaints lodged about them.

Outside media can be interesting, clever and amusing. These are three attributes that creative agencies should be judged on when proposing their ads for city billboards. This of course will drive most ad agencies crazy because it limits them to having to be creative.

Yes there is an element of road safety we will have to consider. Typically driving is quite undemanding for most. We drive while talking to passengers, looking at the scenery and listening to the radio. However for some, driving a motor vehicle is a complex task that requires the ability to divide attention between numerous competing tasks. Billboards could potentially create a visual fixation and distract us from unexpected changes in road conditions. If only for a second or two.

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

(Canturf photo courtesy of Dale Moss)

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14 Responses to Is there a place for billboards in Canberra?
#1
neanderthalsis11:34 am, 30 Jul 14

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

#2
Josh Mulrine1:09 pm, 30 Jul 14

neanderthalsis said :

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

I agree the illumination of those electronic billboards is certainly highly distracting and over the top. What about the odd sign placed along Northborne Av that informs us of upcoming event?

#3
Bosworth1:19 pm, 30 Jul 14

Advertising is bad and should be minimised.

It tricks us in to hoarding a garage full of overpriced crap that we neither want nor need.

And then we park our car in the driveway.

#4
Postalgeek2:03 pm, 30 Jul 14

neanderthalsis said :

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

1

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

No, it wouldn’t be quite unique, and it wouldn’t be spectacular. It would replicate the visual pollution that has already been done to death by advertising agencies around the world in countless cities and on countless highways, and Canberra wouldn’t be the specia petal of an exception. ‘Unique’ is one of those self-deluding words marketers love to throw around the place.

Clearly you need to escape the hick backwardness of Canberra and find another city where commerce continues to impose its ‘tasteful’ aesthetic on the local population.

#5
p13:32 pm, 30 Jul 14

Another vote keeping the billboards, and their funny, tasteful, and artistic messages out of this city.

#6
John Moulis4:20 pm, 30 Jul 14

Canberra used to have a huge billboard at the end of Northbourne Ave on City Hill. It was installed in the early 1980s and removed just after self-government in 1989. As for the suggestion we should have Indigenous billboards, it might be a lot more pleasant on the eye than the usual crass commercialism. Integrating dot paintings and boomerangs into the artwork could make the idea more palatable.

#7
JessicaGlitter4:23 pm, 30 Jul 14

They have been sneaking in over the last 10 years, on building sites where a huge ad for the new building counts as “information” I guess, all over the Canberra Centre, and with bigger and uglier fast food in the suburbs.

Nothing pretty about it at all. It would be very pleasant to spend an afternoon with a bit of white paint and a roller.

Canturf has someone making up funny jokes and puns, so theirs aren’t very offensive, but billboards are still a plague that needs eradication.

#8
astrojax4:51 pm, 30 Jul 14

Postalgeek said :

neanderthalsis said :

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

1

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

No, it wouldn’t be quite unique, and it wouldn’t be spectacular. It would replicate the visual pollution that has already been done to death by advertising agencies around the world in countless cities and on countless highways, and Canberra wouldn’t be the specia petal of an exception. ‘Unique’ is one of those self-deluding words marketers love to throw around the place.

Clearly you need to escape the hick backwardness of Canberra and find another city where commerce continues to impose its ‘tasteful’ aesthetic on the local population.

just wanted to +1 the strikeout of ‘quite’…

#9
Josh Mulrine5:14 pm, 30 Jul 14

Postalgeek said :

neanderthalsis said :

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

1

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

No, it wouldn’t be quite unique, and it wouldn’t be spectacular. It would replicate the visual pollution that has already been done to death by advertising agencies around the world in countless cities and on countless highways, and Canberra wouldn’t be the specia petal of an exception. ‘Unique’ is one of those self-deluding words marketers love to throw around the place.

Clearly you need to escape the hick backwardness of Canberra and find another city where commerce continues to impose its ‘tasteful’ aesthetic on the local population.

Thanks Postalgeek for keeping my writing en pointe.

I don’t think a ‘few’ carefully placed billboards would ruin the natural beauty of our small town. I’m not suggesting that they take over the city and turn us into the next Tokyo but couldn’t they be informative and pleasantly amusing? If only but a few. Or do you think if we let more in it would create a snowball effect?

#10
tuco5:30 pm, 30 Jul 14

I smell astroturfing here.

#11
TallBoy8:46 am, 31 Jul 14

Josh Mulrine said :

Postalgeek said :

neanderthalsis said :

One man’s (or woman’s) ingenious billboard is another’s eyesore. I find it bad enough that we have a minor plague of electronic billboards telling me I can get a cheap gym membership or a $3000 minimum trade, or to slow down for the perpetual roadworks. I like our main interconnecting roads to be tree lined, not billboard lined.

1

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

No, it wouldn’t be quite unique, and it wouldn’t be spectacular. It would replicate the visual pollution that has already been done to death by advertising agencies around the world in countless cities and on countless highways, and Canberra wouldn’t be the specia petal of an exception. ‘Unique’ is one of those self-deluding words marketers love to throw around the place.

Clearly you need to escape the hick backwardness of Canberra and find another city where commerce continues to impose its ‘tasteful’ aesthetic on the local population.

Thanks Postalgeek for keeping my writing en pointe.

I don’t think a ‘few’ carefully placed billboards would ruin the natural beauty of our small town. I’m not suggesting that they take over the city and turn us into the next Tokyo but couldn’t they be informative and pleasantly amusing? If only but a few. Or do you think if we let more in it would create a snowball effect?

Why are you pleading with us to like billboards? We don’t want more billboards ok? Just accept it.

Your vision of ‘driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards’ sounds like a lovely utopian fantasy… for an add man. I can just see myself now, driving about from place to place, being bowled over by the creative brilliance of the billboards I encounter. I think you’re right – the city would actually transform into one giant drive through contemporary media art gallery. All thanks to the genius of billboards. It would really put Canberra on the map.

Back to reality though… adds on TV are informative and pleasantly amusing, but I don’t think anyone would agree we need more of them. Why would anyone want more billboards?

#12
Postalgeek9:30 am, 31 Jul 14

Josh Mulrine said :

Postalgeek said :

Wouldn’t it be great if one day we could fill in an afternoon driving around a spectacular city gallery of ingenious billboards? It would be quite unique. What are your thoughts?

No, it wouldn’t be quite unique, and it wouldn’t be spectacular. It would replicate the visual pollution that has already been done to death by advertising agencies around the world in countless cities and on countless highways, and Canberra wouldn’t be the specia petal of an exception. ‘Unique’ is one of those self-deluding words marketers love to throw around the place.

Clearly you need to escape the hick backwardness of Canberra and find another city where commerce continues to impose its ‘tasteful’ aesthetic on the local population.

Thanks Postalgeek for keeping my writing en pointe.

I don’t think a ‘few’ carefully placed billboards would ruin the natural beauty of our small town. I’m not suggesting that they take over the city and turn us into the next Tokyo but couldn’t they be informative and pleasantly amusing? If only but a few. Or do you think if we let more in it would create a snowball effect?

What sort of pleasantly amusing information do you have in mind, and do you have a vested interest in bill boards?

#13
neanderthalsis9:48 am, 31 Jul 14

Josh Mulrine said :

Postalgeek said :

neanderthalsis said :

.

Thanks Postalgeek for keeping my writing en pointe.

I don’t think a ‘few’ carefully placed billboards would ruin the natural beauty of our small town. I’m not suggesting that they take over the city and turn us into the next Tokyo but couldn’t they be informative and pleasantly amusing? If only but a few. Or do you think if we let more in it would create a snowball effect?

Perhaps you mean interesting and entertaining messages from the supreme leader reminding us that cars are now forbidden and patronage of the light rail network is now compulsory; or that ACT Health has for the 43rd year in a row achieved 100% patient satisfaction and wait times are now in the negative?

Very rarely do you see informative and entertaining advertising, and who then is the judge of whether it is informative and entertaining? I personally considered the large and garish “want longer lasting sex” billboards that infested a number of cities to be mildly amusing, but it seems that a vocal minority took offense and had them removed. Let us not forget the MYass billboard just outside of Canberra that made internet fame, would that fit the bill or not pass the good taste criteria?

#14
Zan9:52 am, 31 Jul 14

Roads are for driving to get from A to B. There are enough distractions without stupid signs like stupid billboards telling us to drive carefully. Sorry I was busy reading the billboard instead of looking at the car in front of me!

Given that I find the Canturf billboards are intelligent.

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