With Canberra so besotted by “user pays”, FREYLA FERGUSON reveals a world of free advertising that basks in a rare burst of bureaucratic benevolence
IN a city so controlling of public billboards, it is startling to discover that the ACT Government is providing free, endless street advertising, it would seem, to just about any business that cares to apply.
And plenty do, cluttering and confusing the poles of street signs all across the town.
There are signs attached to poles everywhere pointing to all kinds of businesses, including at least one that has closed. Late last year the Maternity Fashion Outlet, more commonly known as Mama Wear, moved from Fyshwick to operate an internet retail site from Melbourne, but at least two of its old signs remain, vigilantly pointing expectant motorists to nowhere on street poles in Fyshwick.
According to Territory and Municipal Services, the criteria to apply for a sign is: “Community services and businesses where the particular service would not normally be anticipated.
“Businesses within town centres, shopping malls, local shopping centres and industrial areas are not individually signposted. The priority is given to community services.”
Given the number of signs – and there are plenty of complying ones to clubs and churches – spotted around Manuka, Kingston and Fyshwick it is clear the commercial policy is a mockery.
For instance, there is a signpost advertisement in Giles Street for L’unico Ristorante, a Kingston eatery that sits amid a flank of other restaurants on the Kennedy Street strip. What makes this one particularly meritorious of public signage?
Equally, on Canberra Avenue there is a signpost to Carlovers car wash, hardly a business “where the particular service would not normally be anticipated” in Fyshwick. And what a surprise it must be to find Battery World in Phillip. Luckily, they have had the wherewithal to organise a sign, too.
“CityNews” has spotted numerous signs, particularly in Fyshwick, Kingston and Weston Creek area, advertising businesses that include McDonalds (replete with its golden arches logo), Hotel Realm, Rosey’s Bridal Wear, Gerhard’s Quality Cars and an especially colourful and commercial one for Canberra Tile House.
Applying for this free advertising service appears not particularly onerous or costly.
To get up to three signs to your business placed on public street poles for an unlimited period at no annual cost there is no application form to complete.
A letter, says TAMS, is all that’s needed, outlining what the business is, whether it addresses the criteria and what the wording and design of the sign will look like. The design can include colour and logos.
Community groups aren’t charged for the signs. Private businesses, if approved, have to arrange their own installation at their own costs. There is no fee for being on the pole, nor it seems any time limit to how long the sign can remain.
Depending on the post, the signs cost $200 to $500 to produce and there seems to be no hierarchy regarding where the sign is placed on the pole, with examples of commercial signs appearing above the street sign, making quick reference while driving more difficult and arguably undermining the the whole purpose of the pole in the first place.
A TAMS spokesperson said the Government made no revenue from the production of these signs and, depending on the location, one organisation can have between one to three signs.
Despite our spotting one pole with seven signs, the spokesperson said for better legibility the number of signs on a pole is limited to five at any leg of an intersection.