Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is It Art Or Advertising?

Interesting article by Curtis Gilbert at the Minnesota Public Radio site yesterday. Minnesota's Twin Cities are again trying to define where the line is between art and advertising.The cities have laws that prohibit signs from being excessively large, but such measurement restrictions do not apply to art.

The law became a problem when the store Creative Kidstuff wanted to install two giant cat images on the two sides of their entrance. Clearly the art is informing people where the Kidstuff store is located. This violates the advertising signage rules.

But it's more than simply size restrictions. The anti-advertising advocates really don't want any promotion going on in public spaces.

You can read the article here: Cities debate art vs. advertising.

ST. PAUL Minn. — Minnesota's two largest cities are considering where to draw the line between art and advertising. Later this year, Minneapolis may relax the definition of "mural" to allow for pictures of products. And tonight, the St. Paul City Council will decide whether two cartoon cats count as signs or sculptures.

"Everywhere you look, advertisers are finding a place to put something, to sell you something you don't need," the executive director of the anti-billboard group Scenic Minnesota, Ossian Or, is quoted as saying. The implication is that outdoor advertising is a form of crime that ought to be outlawed.

But advertising has many more functions than just to sell. In the case of these giant cats it's simply wants to tell, in a wordless but entertaining way, that this is where our store is. How else are you going to find these places if you can't announce, "We're here!"?

For Scenic Minnesota billboards, too, are a blight. But many a weary traveller has found comfort in knowing that a there's a motel up ahead in the next thirty miles, or a place to grab a bite to eat.

I think part of the problem with advertising is the bad rap it gets from people who tar it by misrepresentation. Here is a typical anti-advertising quote, this one by Carrie Snow. "Advertising degrades the people it appeals to; it deprives them of their will to choose." O.K. please tell me how those two giant cats are depriving people of their will to choose? How about the T-shirt with a Lund Boats logo on it? Does this somehow force people against their will to buy boats and become fishermen? Yet advertising continues to be treated as if it were almighty and omnipotent.

Speaking of advertising, here's a link to my Featured eBook of the Day: Newmanesque   Hope that font isn't too big for you. Would it be more effective if we made it flash as well? Probably not. And I find flashing LED-light billboards annoying, too. Alas.

Disclaimer: The author of this blog makes a living in advertising.


mechaNICK said...

One thing that I wish there were more of is billboards that promote products or services, as opposed to smiling babies proclaiming that "I had fingerprints at just 4 weeks!"
When I visit old parts of cities I like to see the faded hand-painted billboards - many of which covered whole sides of their respective establishments. I do not see why this is something that we should strive to eliminate.

ENNYMAN said...

Thanks for checking in and leaving your thoughts.