Stop it please! I can’t take it anymore!
Once upon a time I used to worry about noise pollution, air pollution and water pollution … and I guess I never did stop worrying because these things continue to make our cities less liveable each day. There was also a time when we used to grumble about a few billboards and banners that were a visual nightmare in the city and a total distraction for motorists.
However, if you thought all that was worth whining and complaining about, you didn’t know what was round the corner. Check this out! Half a flyover on Shahrah-e-Faisal has been taken over by Vim. Go further down the road and you will see that some other brand has taken over half the flyover as you turn into Karsaz. Go further and one of the underpasses that leads from Gharibabad to Hasan Square announces that a Telenor Talk Shawk connection is what you need. There is nowhere you can turn on any of the main thoroughfares without being bombarded with a commercial message from “your sponsor”.
It appears to me that the City Government is selling every bit of public space there is for advertisements, and unlike magazines, there seems to be no editorial control on the balance between advertising and other content.
I remember seeing Walls ice-cream sticks being the visual decoration on Sunset Boulevard for a whole month. It was so irritating driving on that road feeling there had been an invasion by the ice-cream lollies.
The number of billboards in the city have multiplied any number of times to the extent that the faces of buildings have also been taken over by advertisers. I remember passing Preston University the other day and seeing the front of the building converted into an ad for Ufone … and so on and so forth.
Is all this really acceptable? Do we the citizens have no say in how public space is utilized? Can multinationals be creative if they have to take over flyovers and underpasses and plaster them with beautiful art with a signature logo in the corner indicating that the beautification is brought to you by Company XYZ. Or do they necessarily have to plaster their advertising messages in our faces?
I feel my eyes get no respite at all as I drive through the city because every bit of space is trying to sell me something – from billboards, to banners, to overpasses, underpasses, flyovers, poles, roundabouts, buildings. Whether it is an FMCG company, a multinational, a textile company, a bank, a food outlet or a telco, I am at the mercy of each one of them.
STOP please! I need to breathe. You are making it impossible for me to do so. Have mercy!