The Raglan Road of Tokyo

On Gaien Higashi Dori

Life from the Raglan Road of Tokyo

Tuesday, September 30

Rezoning Advertising

Another point Kerr mentions has come back to me today--advertising as pollution. He talks about Bangkok, where the only huge ugly billboards you see raping the skyline are those advertising Japanese companies. Named knobs: Hitachi. Sony. Canon. He goes on to say that this kind of pollution is controlled in Europe by building standards laws, high taxes on such displays, and a general culture of not destroying the overall aesthetic impression of a city.

I've had a thought about this for a long time, ever since getting the feeling something was wrong during a holiday in Queensland. What was wrong was I was getting Kabukicho withdrawal--eyes craving neon and billboards. Nothing was flashing. That was when I thought of banning all advertising in the physical world and moving it solely to cyberspace, TV and radio, and printed materials whose main purpose is not advertising.

I know, it would never work--too many powerful multinationals would never go for it, and a huge section of the marketing industry would be up the creek without a mobile, but imagine waking up in the morning and not being bombarded with constant insidious and ugly calls to follow fashion, damage your health and, most importantly, give away your money. It may not even be that crazy: we've got all this new "space" since the advent of the Internet. Why do we need to ruin our physical landscape with advertising anymore? It's time to get as pissed off with big ugly Coca-Cola billboards as we do about graffiti.

Apart from the merits in terms of cities becoming beautiful again, there would be other serious advantages. No more flyers, no more letterboxes full of direct advertising spam, and thus no more wasted natural resources. A ban on physical advertising--not so Year Zero Pol Pot after all?

posted by setsunai 1:26 PM Comments
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Gaien Higashi Dori means Outer Gardens (of the Meiji Shrine) Ave. East. It is one of the beautiful big leafy avenues that winds through the center of Tokyo.

Raglan Road is a poem and song about love and loss by one of the finest Irish poets of the twentieth century, Patrick Kavanagh.