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Melbourne's billboards have been in the firing line recently. This week on ABC Radio, City of Melbourne councillor Fraser Brindley said he wasn't into their "tarty commercialism" in the urban landscape. Landscape architect at Melbourne University Ray Green wonders about making, "the form and the visual appearance of those signs compatible with the character of those areas."

ABC RADIO 31.01.07

Can inner Melbourne accommodate gaudy 21st century billboards or should they be a little more sober, maybe with a Brunswick Green frame?

I don't think the MCC should be too fussed though, the Federal Government has allowed the erection of a 40m wide by 10m tall billboard on land it owns near the airport - advertising toilet paper.

THE AGE 01.02.07


There is also talk of the Melbourne City Council designating certain street corners as suitable for clusters of large billboards (read Times Square / Piccadilly Circus / Shinjuku?). The lucky corners are all along Bourke Street. The reasoning seems to be that this would allow other streets to be ad-free.

THE AGE 31.01.07


  • N
    edited January 1970
    I suppose I have a bit too much free time at the moment but when I think of the council resisting against "Tarty Commercialism" there are a few places around Melbourne City that have "tarty" billboards. Eg: Corner Brunton and Punt and Corner Swanston and Flinders.

    I don't think it's really up to them to screen the advertisements that are going up. I have a great respect for the advertising industry and frankly, they will post up signs which they believe will appeal to us. It's not like people aren't responding to these ads which in turn generate money for the companies who have them. From my quick mental snapshot of the city ads as a reflection of its people: We are a community of secretly lusting men who wish to perform better in bed, overtly sexual women who are interested in toys to help their men in prolonging their performance and children who only get innundated by these images. Oh and we may have a slight interest in high street fashion.

    Of course this is a really big generalisation but it's what I think of when I remember the ads that I really noticed (for better or worse).

    I suppose given what I've said about advertising it's a bit like the city is a magazine. A shiny, glossy magazine which Is packed with articles to fit all ages and interests. The only thing is, what do the editors (this is turning into a very cheap metaphor now....apologies) want inside that magazine. You can't pull down a picture of Jennifer Hawkins because of an "infraction" on MCC rules but be OK with 5 buxom women pouting in tight dresses.

    Admittedly I'm not that prudish and don't mind either but instead of concentrating it in one area, and one area only, how about splitting it up according to the types of people which visit those areas? It sounds a little bit too much like profiling but isn't that what advertising does? Target audiences in areas where they are more likely to respond. I imagine there will never be a day that a Sportsgirl ad will be on Collins and Spring, the same way there will never be an Hermes ad on Lonsdale and Swanston.

    As much as advertisements are temporary, there have been instances of truly great ads which have added to the feel/design of an area. Instead of crossing out the possibility for toilet paper ads, how about actually investing some kind of design currency in all ads.
    it is the city afterall...the regular ads can be saved for freeway and suburban situations where at least in the city you can see the same product being innovatively displayed.

    I'm a Melbourne person and we have a budding stencil/street art scene, a great design/arts culture here so why shouldn't that at least permeate into the advertisements in the city? They don't have to be high brow because some of the best ads are so incredibly novel that they are accessible and do more for product remembrance and placement than a cheap plastic billboard.
  • N
    edited January 1970
    thought I'd do a little google search for some ads which are innovative and show that advertisements can be more than labradors on toilet paper to engage people:

    BC Hydro and their ad for LED lights as opposed to Incandescent lights with volunteers around the clock "powering" this billboard to show the energy efficiency of LEDs over Incadescents. Surely Phillips would have the money to do something like that here. Let alone the energy companies.

    There is one other that I remember involving a watch maker employing an ad on train (i think) straps. The same straps are here in some Melbourne trams and basically its an image of the watch in such a way that once you placed your hand through it would look like you were wearing that watch.
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