Quoted: the Sign of the Times is No Signs

In the Hutong

Wondering how gross the weather can get

1724 hrs.

In part to prevent ambush advertising around the Olympics, and in part to tone down the level of in-your-face advertising in Beijing before the Games, the city’s government has taken down over 30,000 outdoor advertisements in Beijing, including some of the most high-value billboards in the country. Normandy Madden gives a good rundown in the July 7 AdvertisingAge.

George Gallate, the Asia-Pacific CEO of Euro RSCG, is not happy.

“I’m quite surprised by the amount of control they are able to do [sic]. But this degree of control is one step too far in one of the most important aspects of an open economy, the right to advertise.”

Leaving aside the fact that my most recent check of political science texts fails to turn up a mention of a “right to advertise,” Mr. Gallate and his fellows in the ad business are understandably tweaked: some of those billboards list out at over US$50,000 a month, which would mean just under $9,000 in agency commissions at standard rates for a single billboard.

The ban doesn’t stop at billboards – it includes the light-boxes along Beijing’s main thoroughfares, bus shelters, and even the ads on buses and subways. Either the ads are being sold to Olympic sponsors at highly preferential rates, or they’re being held back.