Billboards, Billboards everywhere

My wife took a guess at how many I’d counted

On my way home from work yesterday, I counted the number of billboard panels which were facing me on my commute. It’s about 25 kilometers, a 45 minute drive if the traffic’s not too bad. When I got home I asked my wife to guess how many I counted.

She guessed 15. What would you have guessed?

Try swapping those digits around. Yup, no less than fifty-one billboard panels. The smallest of these was about 3m x 6m, and the largest ones easily fifty metres long and proportionally tall. I didn’t even include the equally sized “to let” signs or the smaller boards on street poles.

This morning, I counted the panels in the opposite, workbound direction. I counted to nineteen, then enjoyed a rather undistracted stretch of about three kilometers before having to count again. Through the ribbon-development area of Midrand, unbelievably cluttered, the tally soared and hit sixty as I rounded the last corner before my office.

Too much for anyone’s good

Now, I appreciate that advertising has to happen. I appreciate that it can be done really well. But 111 massive billboards in one standard workday is unreasonably excessive. I’m not surprised about the statistics that we’re blasted with 5,000 adverts a day (or was it 50,000?). Some of my clients are involved in the media industry, and they’ve uttered the word “clutter” before, which is a glimmer of hope that one day the by-laws will really clamp down on those valleys of 7 simultaneously visible boards. Ask me what was advertised and I could tell you about ten percent of what I saw. It’s just too much.