Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Digital Billboards & Green Economics for Tories

Advertising on roadside presents a multitude of street-level opportunities, targeting your audience while they are engaged in some form of transportation. OOH International can provide your campaign with enormous opportunities across many roadside advertising mediums. Surfaces such as phone boxes and lamp-posts can be transformed from outdoor furniture into purveyors of your business, with options escalating as far as fully wrapped buildings and motorway trailers.
The commuter of today spends more time out of their home than previously in history, which means that your publicity will be vastly strengthened by a carefully organised plan. As advertising platforms have the possibility of illumination, there is nothing limiting your visibility – from dusk until dawn, your brand can unavoidably walk alongside the public as they engage in their daily journeys.’

This is an extract from Out of Home International’s website – the company which Mayor George Ferguson wants to install digital billboards in Bristol.*

The Greens were mocked in the Bristol City Council meeting today for their opposition to digital billboards. One Conservative declared that he could ‘not understand Green economics’, on the basis that we were against austerity but also against generating income from digital billboards.

I’ll explain it to him.

Green economics arises from the very simple scientific fact that there are finite natural resources on this planet. Using up these resources rapidly – mining, soil degradation, overfishing – creates a poorer world in the long term. In addition all sorts of complications arise from the extracting, processing and disposing that industrial production and consumption incur. We now have climate change and toxic waste on a massive scale as a result of the accelerated consumption of natural resources.

We depend on our environment to continue providing us with the basic physical necessities of life – food, clean water, warmth and shelter. The famous Maslow’s hierarchy of needs has these as the most fundamental.

Advertising exists to promote consumption. It does exactly the opposite of what we need to do. Along the way it creates a host of other problems for mental and social wellbeing, creating discontent and objectification of people, undermining the next tier of Maslow’s pyramid (for some excellent insights see http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/ziad-elhady/the-dogma-of-advertising-_b_2540390.html).

What Green economics offers is the idea of investment in wellbeing rather than in growing consumption (which is the basis of GDP orientated economics). We want enrichment of people’s lives – hence we are opposed to an austerity that cuts vital services and the incomes of people who need help. We want investment in technology and systems which minimise and reverse environmental impact. We believe that a fairer taxation system could provide this. We don’t need digital billboards to fund this investment – that would be counter-productive.

The Tory councillor who could not understand Green economics was operating in a paradigm where profit and income generation are thought to be intrinsically good. It is ‘self-evident’ to him that any profit is good profit. This is part of a fantasy culture where consumption can be infinite. Greens are accused of not living in the ‘real’ world; in fact we are the only political movement which fully acknowledges the limitations of the planet.

*It turns out it is a different company with a very similar name. The principle holds however.

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