Advertising, When does it go too far?

15 Nov

We all know the reason for advertising but is there a line it shouldn’t cross? Is there a point where it becomes too obtrusive?

I came across an article in the Chicago Tribune: “First ads go up on Chicago River bridge houses” and my immediate reaction was that the bridge houses should not have advertising on them. It made me even more disappointed when I saw the photo.

New Bank of America advertisements on the Wabash Avenue bridge houses. (Chris Walker, Chicago Tribune)

This led me to think when is advertising acceptable and when does it go too far. I personally feel (and am backed up by a Tribune poll: 96% against the ads) that these ads are obtrusive. They are a method for the city to make money and according to the article the city is trying to sell ad space in many other locations including website, garbage cans, and pay boxes. To me all those locations would be good spots for advertising. So why are so many people offended by the ads on the bridges?

If you look back a few years you will see the same thing happen with a building called the Sears Tower, a few years before that a store called Marshall Field’s. The thing all these have in common that the trash cans and parking meters do not is they have become icons of a city. What really stands out though is how a place such as the Sears Tower or Wrigley Field are actually advertisements in themselves. Then there are areas like Times Square where it is required to have advertising signs on the buildings in the area. Advertising is about perception, it is about how you present the ad.

So I come to the conclusion that advertising is acceptable anywhere you want it but it must be done correctly or people will take offense. The ads on the bridge houses could have been done in a manner that matched the style of the gorgeous buildings but instead appear to be generic billboards slapped on the side. So I pose the question: In the age of ever-present advertising, how do we incorporate advertising into our buildings so that people will accept it?

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