Saturday, November 28, 2009

A carbon tax on advertising is long overdue

These pictures give you an example of JCDecaux approach to advertising in Hong Kong. They have the exclusive right to advertise in the MTR, no area excluded, from trains to corridors, platforms, pillars and even turnstiles and ticket machines. Busy MTR stations such as Central, Admiralty, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui are completely covered in their vinyl sheets (often dozens of meters long). As campaigns are short-lived, the amount of waste they create is huge. If you think paper posters are not environmentally-friendly, just imagine the environmental impact of producing and disposing of vinyl stickers the size of a building.

We are losing our country parks to landfills while this advertising agency and the MTR Corporation make a huge profit by selling every inch of the space we move through and then covering it in vinyl.
Now, to ensure that their campaigns have an even greater carbon footprint, JCDecaux have added loud tv screens, so that when you walk through this womb-like advertising space, from which there is no escape, your ears are assaulted too. As if vinyl is not bad enough for the environment, now local power stations have to burn more coal to power these obtrusive tv screens.

When will the real cost of advertising be calculated?
A carbon tax would force advertising agencies to switch to more creative and sustainable techniques. I don't see anything creative in destroying the planet while trying to make us buy one brand rather than another. If anything, it shows a complete lack of creativity.

One thing is sure, i have made a point of not buying any product that is advertised in such a loud and unsustainable manner. I might be regarded as "captive audience" by JCDecaux, but when it comes to opening my wallet i am still free.

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