Friday, 15 June 2007

Lap of the Gods

I know, the world's gone mad - it says so in dirty great letters at the top of this page. But do small minded institutions really need to prove that to us every single day?

Today's candidate for institutional insanity demonstrator is Tandridge District Council, who have, apparently raised some objections to a 100,000 sq ft advert painted in a privately owned field. The advert in question promotes a lap dancing website, and is designed to be visible only from the air - the field in question is directly under a Gatwick Airport flight path.

Featuring the silhouette of a naked lady, and the slogan "Any time, any place, anywhere" (wasn't that used to promote Martini many years ago?), the ad is painted on the ground using pitch marking dyes, and will remain weatherproof for four weeks or so. Tandridge District Council claims that the ad is in breach of planning regulations, and is offering to fine Sports Media Gaming, the company who created it, at least £2500.

In response, SMG say they are perfectly within rights to make the ad, and have no intention of removing it, particularly since it has already generated thousands of pounds worth of business for the website. I just bet it has, too!

Now, let's see. The purpose of advertising is to attract attention to a product or service, and, in fairness, it seems that SMG have identified a pretty good way of doing that. But the attention they have attracted from eagle eyed plane passengers and the odd downward gazing deity must pale into insignificance compared to the media attention the local council's stroppy attitude has brought them - for free!

Has it not occurred to the bumbling council functionaries that this kind of publicity is what advertising executives live for? It's what they're paid to achieve - how cool must it be to get paid and then have the local council do your job for you? Even if the ad is in breach of planning regulations, which seems a little odd to me, it will be gone in a matter of weeks. Surely, rather than causing a stink that draws it to the attention of the entire country, they would have been the wiser to keep their mouths shut?

Of course they would. That they didn't can mean only one of two things; either someone at the council has come to an arrangement with SMG, and this storm in a planning teacup amounts to nothing more than a publicity stunt, or the council's planning department exercises common sense in the same way that it is deployed in most local government departments throughout the land, i.e. not at all.

I leave you, dear reader, to draw your own conclusions but, for the record, my money's on the second explanation.

Billy Seggars.

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