Stop it please! I can’t take it anymore!

August 24, 2011 at 11:24 pm 11 comments

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!

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Dr. Umar Saif named one of the World’s Top Young Innovators by MIT P@SHA LaunchPad 2011 at ITCN Asia in Karachi

11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sheraz Saeedy  |  August 24, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Its really a nightmare, specially for drivers. I would like to add that I have noticed the LED screens on roads in Lahore and those are so annoying and completely distract you attention.

    Good Work!

  • 2. Shoaib Taimur (@shobz)  |  August 24, 2011 at 11:45 pm

    Tell me about it. I am sick and tired of all this commercialization. I don’t want to see all these billboards and ads everywhere. Don’t they fall under zoning laws? Not only that but Quaid e Azam’s Mazar has also fallen victim to this menace. I am sure the revenues earned will go into the deep pockets of the bureaucrats instead of the kitty.

  • 3. Stop it please! I can’t take it anymore! | Tea Break  |  August 25, 2011 at 12:39 am

    […] Stop it please! I can’t take it anymore! […]

  • 4. Nadeem Ahsan  |  August 25, 2011 at 2:19 am

    Please close your eyes when you see these ads. In a connected world, what is wrong with brands reaching consumers this way. They spend money and the city makes revenue from these ads which can then be used for upkeep of roads. A perfect opportunity for a weak economy. Why pour cold water on this?

    • 5. Aley Bob  |  April 11, 2012 at 3:42 pm

      well pouring cold water is the only thing we are good at …. no one to blame, it is very easy for all these guys sitting infront of their screens and comment, that is all they DO and that is the only thing they are good at, keep it up guys and for the Brand & Advertiser, job well done, keep it up 🙂 cheers

  • 6. Ali Rashid  |  August 25, 2011 at 12:54 pm

    The govt can rather allow such advertising on the condition that the advertising company would build some public facility on site. E.g. they may ask companies to build roundabouts and allow them to do some creative advertising over that roundabout OR they could’ve asked VIM to install public benches at the site you have shown in the picture.

  • 7. farhan  |  August 25, 2011 at 11:58 pm

    To be honest, that Vim ad looks quite nice! Good decoration for an otherwise dull and dark bridge. I’m not sure exactly how too much of this ‘static’ advertisement can affect one’s sanity, unless you’re forcing yourself to watch it. I think people have this thought in their head that the advertisements are going to mess with their mind or rewire their neurons or something. I feel it makes a city look more like a city, it is part of urban life! And I’m not compelled to buy any of the advertised items just because they are painted on a bridge or on a billboard… a sensible buyer would usually be critical about what he or she wants to buy rather than going “OMG that looks SO hot I am definitely going to get it!”.

    I am sure not people will agree with me on this, your criticism and thoughts are very welcome 🙂

  • 8. Yasser  |  August 27, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Still much better than political advertisement

  • 9. madiha  |  September 15, 2011 at 4:56 pm

    I agree with you. Karachi could learn from Lahore, they have strictly curbed billboard proliferation and its certainly for the better.

  • 10. CDGK declares Shahrah-e-Faisal model corridor  |  October 7, 2011 at 6:59 pm

    […] Stop it please! I can’t take it anymore! ( […]

  • 11. Akhyar A. Dar  |  November 20, 2012 at 10:15 am

    very good effort (taking time to write all those words) but forgot to mention how this bridge looked like (or other bridges with no branding look like) beore the branding occurs, I suggest the author should take a ride, visit all the other bridges like NIPA, Nagan Chowrangi, Liaquatabad for example and compare the scenario. If that does not satisfy her, she can write on carelessness of local authorities for not keeping those bridges clean ……….. peace


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