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The suggestion that tube stations were once filled with ads in the Edwardian days is very interesting. I imagine, however, that given major/international media weren't around at the time, it was all local advertising, pasted up by local businesses and organisations, with the net result of benefitting the local community. Buying a product or service on the basis of one of these adds stood a good chance of improving the regional economy. Anyone could advertise too, presenting people with a free-speech tool that didn't lock out the poor with extortionate costs.
However, now the ads are fewer and larger, should we be happy? I suggest not: gone is the link between us and the brand, and having a better opinion of an advertised product often doesn't net any local benefit at all. Since advertising is big business, and consumers have never been more cynical, advertisers now try every (underhand) trick in the book to get people to think of their products in a particular light.
Whether an ad suggests that a guy is not sufficiently desirable unless he uses a particular razor, or a girl is not sufficiently slender unless she uses a specific brand of perfume, big-bucks advertising taps into our subconscious and tells us that we are not good enough. But, naturally, they present themselves as the kind providers of the remedy, and we only need to give them some mindshare, and our lives will be made more fruitful. This poisoning of the private mind, in my view, is why people are frustrated at this kind of use of public space.
Who, for example, wants to have adverts on the tube? Did commuters lobby their MPs until it was done? Which shoppers want to see billboard ads in the public spaces they used to think was their town centre? Do householders in council properties really want to see advertising hordings outside their bedroom window? On whose authorisation did these public spaces become private rentable property?
Anyway, this is an interesting project - pleased to see someone propose it!Jonathan, 15 years ago.