Thursday, August 30, 2007

Advertising is visual pollution

In a blow to the argument that consumers see more than 3,000 advertisements each day, Sao Paulo, Brazil, issued a ban on all outdoor advertising including billboards, outdoor video screens, blimps, shop-window signs, logos, and posters. As part of a wider initiative to curb garbage and pollution the advertising ban intends to eliminate what Sao Paulo's mayor, Gilberto Kassab, calls "visual pollution".

While many readers would agree that some ads are in bad taste, I have a hard time imagining standing in Times Square and looking around at buildings stripped of their flashing lights, neon and video screens. While the local advertising agencies have launched legal actions, it appears that many applaud the move.

This is the first time that a non-communist city has imposed such a rule… and enforced it with vigor. Apparently the law has been so successful that more than 15,000 billboards now stand empty.

If you want to see more, Tony de Marco has posted a video stream on Flickr. The story was broken on National Public Radio and covered by a number of online publications.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Temporal nature of advertising

I recently purchased a game called Adverteasing at a local thrift store. The game was made in 1988 by now defunct Canada Games Company under license from Rischer Enterprises. The game, very similar in game play to Trivial Pursuit, is completely focused on advertising slogans. It has 3,000 questions and is an amazing cultural artifact.

While I’m able to guess at the companies behind a few of the slogans, it is amazing how many companies are no longer in business. For those that are still in business, almost none of the slogans are used today. Here are a couple of examples, see if you can guess the answers (see the hint at the bottom of this post):

“It’s worth the trip”
  • Miami Beach
  • Cunard Lines
  • Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Delta Airlines

“Our strengths are legendary*”

  • US Steel
  • Navistar
  • Samsonite
  • Atlas Van Lines

“Washes clothes without rubbing”

  • Fab
  • Vivid
  • Lively Polly Dry Soap
  • Drive

“Does she…or doesn’t she?”

  • Pond’s
  • Lavoris
  • Clairol
  • Lady Speed Stick

“The Ultimate Driving Machine*”

  • Jaguar
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • BMW
  • Lotus

“The greatest show on earth*”

  • Ice capades
  • Circus of the Stars
  • Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus
  • Circus Circus

“Correct your skin faults”

  • Pond’s
  • Clean & Clear
  • Dioxogen Cream (1937)
  • Clearasil

*Those marked with an asterisk are still used in promotional copy today.

Trivia solving hint: always choose answer "c or #3" in a multiple choice quiz.