Mancunians In Snit Over Temporary Hoardings For DOOH Sidewalk Displays

November 29, 2021 by Dave Haynes

Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Hat Tip to Paul Fleuranges for noting this …

At least some of the residents of Manchester, England are in a serious snit over the presence of a series of temporary enclosures on the sidewalks of major thoroughfares – put there as hoardings for sidewalk street furniture posters that are being converted from static to digital.

The gray metal boxes are described in a Manchester Guardian story as ugly, in the way, and hazardous to the pedestrians who have to navigate around them. The counter-argument from the city is that the revenues from the advertising concession approach the equivalent of $3 million USD, which is hard to turn down in a climate of tight budgets and the timeless aversion to tax increases.

Almost all of the 86 totems going in – 81 of the 86 – replace backlit posters that were at those positions for as long as 20 years, so the intrusion on sidewalks is hardly new. The metal boxes are in place to hide and protect the electrical and probably network bits that are needed to drive the new digital totems.

I’m not sure who has this DOOH ad concession for Manchester street furniture (there seem to be numerous DOOH media companies active in the city), but this looks like a communication issue more than anything. The operations people who were likely tasked with setting up the site upgrades would tend to think mainly in operational terms, and put metal boxes in that did the functional job. A marketer might have thought more about what to communicate on those enclosures – apologizing for the convenience and maybe communicating that these displays deliver XXX in revenue to the city for general revenues or to fund specific programs. Planters with flowers might have been a good idea as a temporary measure.

Instead, the city council stuck big, generic labels on the things, saying they were temporary features “as part of the installation of upgraded digital advertising displays.”

As an old – emphasize old – newspaper reporter, I am 100% comfortable suggesting it would take seconds for a journalist to do enough person-on-the-street interviews to build a case against these.

Q: What do you think of these things?

A: They’re ugly.

Q: And what about you, sir? What do you think of these things?

A: I agree with her. They’re ugly and I don’t like them.

It’s easy to find people who don’t like advertising that’s seemingly all around them. Nothing new there. One of the counter-measures is to explain why they exist and what they deliver for the city’s and venues that grant advertising rights. People may still be in a snit, but if they have a sense – valid or not – that this offsets taxes or fees, they might be in a little less of a snit.

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