The new Outdoor Signage and Public Messaging Policy 2018 by the government, has put a blanket ban on commercial hoardings within city limits as a step to stop ‘visual pollution,’ as part of the growing global movement to create ad free cities, which kick started in Sao Paolo, then Chennai, France, Delhi and then a host of cities worldwide.
David Ogilvy, widely considered the father of modern advertising, expressed his disdain for the medium back in 1963. “Man is at his vilest when he erects a billboard,” Ogilvy wrote. “When I retire from Madison Avenue, I am going to start a secret society of masked vigilantes who will travel around the world on silent motor bicycles, chopping down posters at the dark of the moon.”
As pleased as I am, that driving now could be a lot more pleasant without the distraction of ugly hoardings, I couldn’t stop wondering about the impact of this policy on the outdoor advertising industry. Considering that the industry revenue was growing at 13% each year, this move could kill the entire industry and the related ecosystem.
So what next?
My first thought was, that a lot of this revenue is going to be directed towards digital. Advertisers will find a way to promote the brands of their clients one way or the other. Post the advent of technology, ads can exist anywhere and everywhere, billboards were just the tip of the iceberg. What do you think this move will trigger?