Leading Article: Seeing the light

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The Independent Online
THERE ARE, at the last count, some 6.75 million lamp posts in the United Kingdom. A dog's dream, perhaps, but also a major untapped advertising opportunity. Yesterday the billboard giant Mills and Allen announced a pending deal with councils to put adverts on lamp posts for the first time.

It's not a new idea. Where would traditional Parisian streetscapes have been without their pissoirs and those round, green things bearing yellowing posters for Charles Trenet concerts. British streets hardly lack for advertising, though most of it is of the boringly official kind, such as those complicated placards - on lamp posts - telling when parking is permitted. On some urban streets there is now a jungle of hardware, and a few colourful ads on lamp posts are not going to make them any more untidy. Indeed you could say that advertisers are being somewhat unadventurous.

Once, in those far-off days when members of the Labour Party used to call themselves socialists, presumably on the grounds their dealings with capitalists banks were highly imaginative, councillors in one borough even flogged off their entire stock of lamp posts, albeit on a sale-or- return basis. Why not have companies sponsoring lamp posts and decorating them in their favourite colours? Urban dog owners could then take special pleasure by encouraging Rex to relieve himself against, say, the Virgin or British Airways or [fill in your own corporate favourite] lamp post.

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