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The sport and politics of the corflute

Tim Gavel 15 May 2019 20
Suburban corflute. Photo: Tim Gavel.

A corflute sign in the suburbs. Photos: Tim Gavel.

We are awash with corflute signs! Signs made of double-sided board that is plastic rather than paper litter the streets. Real estate agencies, building sites, and many other commercial operators use these signs because they are lightweight, weatherproof, and reasonably cheap to put up.

We have seen a proliferation across Canberra with the coming election and like many people in Canberra, it’s got me thinking: does corflute advertising actually work?

It must work, given the proliferation of the signs on stakes across Canberra’s main roads and suburban streets in the lead-up to the Federal election.

It would appear though, that our politicians, in seeking to take advantage of free advertising, have plenty of competition these days with school fetes, concerts and sporting groups occupying space, which in the past, may have been taken by candidates only.

The emergence of the corflute is as close as the ACT gets to the outdoor advertising and billboard signs so noticeable once you cross the border.

Sporting groups, it would appear, are quickly realising the value of corflute advertising with junior registrations high on the agenda, closely followed by advertising for sporting fixtures and spring time fetes.

Sports corflute sign. Photo: Tim Gavel.

Did this sign entice people to the Brumbies game?

What was once deemed the domain of political parties with pictures of smiling faces – more of a distraction to drivers than anything else – is now seen by sport and the community as a legitimate form of advertising.

For sporting groups, I believe it is a cost-effective way to promote, although some have far too much information for passing motorists given the majority are on main thoroughfares.

To many, it is akin to neighbourhood pollution to have streets awash with political corflutes, while for others it is a sign of grassroots democracy. People expressing outrage at the signs on stakes appear to have the ability to differentiate between politics and everything else propped up on these sticks in the ground.

National Capital Rally sign. Photo: Tim Gavel.

National Capital Rally corflute signage.

Debate raged in the lead-up to the last election, but there seems to be little in the way of outrage this time around. This is partly understandable as there are fewer candidates seeking our votes than there are for local ACT Assembly elections, therefore less corflutes. There are also new regulations in place for next year’s local elections.

Sport and community groups would appear to have filled the corflute-void.

What do you think? Do corflutes work as an advertising strategy? Share your comments below.


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20 Responses to The sport and politics of the corflute
Gilavon 8:24 am 17 May 19

Most of the time corflutes are only around for a limited time, couple of weeks or so and then all done, no real harm or offence committed. Corflutes are used by builders to comply with the Building Act which requires details of building projects to be displayed prominently at the entrance to the site.

Tegan Smith Tegan Smith 7:42 am 17 May 19

They’re good for advertising community events, like organisational open days, hobby group exhibitions, school fetes etc. I believe there are pretty strict rules about them (how long before an event they can be up, how closely spaced they can be, how soon after an event they must be removed). I think they’re fine and far preferable to billboards advertising coke and underwear.

Amber Jarrett Amber Jarrett 8:28 pm 15 May 19

I like the sports and community ones! It does take me a few days to read the whole sign 😂

Linda Chelle Linda Chelle 4:45 pm 15 May 19

Why not show a political one in your article ?!?!? They are plastered everywhere 😡

I know for a fact that AFL Canberra reuse and recycle their signs .... free advertising 👍

Maelinar 4:24 pm 15 May 19

The National Capital Plan bans billboards ads and is written up quite well here – https://www.abc.net.au/news/specials/curious-canberra/2017-06-19/why-doesnt-canberra-have-billboard-advertising/8622186

Hence corflutes as a temporary alternative are permitted, in addition to the abundance of political material which is exempted anyway because those who make the rules…

My gripe is in the content of some of those signs, I’m sure everybody has seen the black set of Labor will tax you to death signs for example. This isn’t a smiley picture of a candidate saying vote for me, but an opinion on what the other side will do – and a quite inaccurate one at that. This has stepped away from being political advertising to political sloganeering which falls outside my perception of what the term political advertising is intended to mean.

Natalie Roseworn Natalie Roseworn 1:44 pm 15 May 19

They’re often too small to read while driving past, when placed by roads with speed limits of 80.

Chloe Haseltine Chloe Haseltine 1:00 pm 15 May 19

What’s with all the Jimmy Brings alcohol delivery signs? So far most have been pushed over and are just rubbish.

James Daniels James Daniels 12:23 pm 15 May 19

They serve a purpose to get a candidate's name in front of voters, hopefully prompting some of them to investigate their policies and values so they're more informed when casting their vote. If the only thing a candidate has is corflutes, they're not going to be effective. The non political signs are few in number and so are fine. The political ones are only for a few weeks prior to an election and are especially useful for non-major party candidates to raise some awareness. Banning them would be a negative in terms of the strength of our democracy.

Veronika Sain Veronika Sain 11:43 am 15 May 19

Plastic pollution which should be banned. Especially since they could be using bio materials for the boards that compost, instead of plastic that lasts hundreds of years and won’t be recycled.

Jon Ratcliffe Jon Ratcliffe 11:36 am 15 May 19

If they put the same effort to collect them as put them up then it wouldn't be so bad.

Audrey Gilrain 11:35 am 15 May 19

I’m with Smita, I actually find out about things happening in my community this way. As long as they’re used sensibly – there is no point writing a novel on these things because you can’t process that much information when driving – I think they’re useful. Much of the corflute that they are made from these days is designed to breakdown fairly quickly and easily so, while pollution is an aspect, they aren’t as bad as some plastic products. Regarding the election, while I love NZ, I would hate to reduce something as important as our democratic process to a small sign on a building with none of ceremony that goes with it. Given that voting in mandatory in Australia, as voters we need some way of knowing who we have the option of voting for even if the signs tell us nothing of their policies or views! It would also be nice to have a corflute recycling process where the fetes and sporting clubs could perhaps reuse the back side of signs that are no longer needed.

Trevor Brown Trevor Brown 11:20 am 15 May 19

Pollution

Smita Patel Smita Patel 10:57 am 15 May 19

I like when special events are advertised this way. I’ve often found out about stuff this way. As far as politicians blergh. It’s annoying AF and overkill the numbers set up

Kath Ras Kath Ras 10:13 am 15 May 19

When a political candidate has 6 signs in about 10m yes it is over the top. I think a sign to say school fate is fine.

Jill Brown Jill Brown 8:06 am 15 May 19

Pollution

Avril Pounds Avril Pounds 7:42 am 15 May 19

Just after viewing the usual abundance of road side political advertising at the last election, I visited Wellington NZ. The capital city. On the Saturday morning, I spotted a tiny sign on a nearby building that said 'polling place'. That tiny sign and the local news that night was the only clue I had about the election that day. Not a road side sign to be found anywhere. Canberra could certainly learn a thing or two from our NZ counterparts.

    Stephen Roberts Stephen Roberts 7:52 am 15 May 19

    Avril Pounds - in many ways

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 9:35 am 15 May 19

    what? To ignore a hugely important political process?

    Many candidates don’t have another way to get their name and message out. It’s cost effective.

    It happens once every three years - it astounds me that people are more worried about two weeks of corflutes than drowning out one of the only options to many candidates for getting their name out for a hugely important political process.

Lauryn Roberts Lauryn Roberts 7:32 am 15 May 19

They are rubbish. Drivers can’t actually read when DRIVING. So it only useful for passengers if they are even looking. Most people play phones or check social media.

It should be banned. Huge waste of money and causes rubbish and distraction on the roads...

Some of these signs are novels.

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