An eyesore, a hazard, a necessary evil?

July 4, 2007 at 12:14 pm 1 comment

If billboards were an eyesore in Karachi earlier, they have become more so now. This picture shows one of many structures in Karachi that are now bare because the CDGK considered them unsafe with the cyclone expected to hit anytime.an_eyesore

Billboards have been a source of debate for some time not only in this country but in many developed nations as well. How many should be permitted? What kind of regulation should there be? Are they a hazard for drivers? And now with digital billboards going up, will the distraction increase?

There are loads of other questions:-

1. What kind of income is derived by billboard owners? It is significant from what one hears. Then why do they not maintain the structures to keep them from becoming a hazard? Why do they not follow some set guidelines? Do any such guidelines exist?

2. What does the City Government do with the funds it generates from these billboards? Is it used for beautification of the city of Karachi? Where exactly is the money spent? Is this open for public examination?

Looking at the other side of the coin, have advertisers ever conducted any research on the feasibility of using billboards to advertise their message? Probably only to the extent of what the recall is – i.e. are colour ads better or B/W for recall? Are billboards on the right side of the road more effective as compared to those on the left?

Has the question ever been asked whether a billboard is better for a product or a service? Whether low-involvement products (like food items) benefit more than high-involvement products (like cars)? Not a lot of information can be placed on billboards due to the number of seconds that a driver sees it. Yes I know there is no mute button, no off switch so the consumer cannot avoid it. But drivers are being distracted by other cars, radio programs, conversations with other people in the car or by phone conversations (handsfree of course).

My primary concern however is do they add value, are they safe, do they contribute to the beauty of the city or take away from it? What is the overall benefit to the citizen of this city?

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Adnan  |  July 5, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Jehan, those are some very valid questions. And while some research may exist on the efficacy of billboards as marketing tools, we need our b-schools to do some real quantitative research on the subject..

    It seems that institutions like CBM and ZABIST are too busy marketing their services to clueless students, to engage in any real research.

    Reply

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