Billboards have been designed to attract attention in the most annoying ways since the Burma Shave endeavour. Now that there are billboards that scroll and boards that flicker into view with venetian blind efects, its not just the twelvefoot high Marlboro Man that invades our ride down the road. LCD headlines have been added and full digital cola boards run through the spectrum of morphing cans to keep the brands imbedded in our brains. They are there, in your face, reaching the sky.
In the mid eighties and into the mid-nineties, activists and pranksters started to alter billboard ads, turning cigarette and beer ads into big jokes. Alas, the advertising folks eventually used this to their advantage by creating antismoking ads and God slogan ads. Billboards are here to stay.
The other day, walking from my new home to the tube
station, I passed a billboard for Ihavemoved.com. It's for whenever you move, a place to put your change of address
to forward to all the agencies and friends in one big lump, instead of bits and pieces. it probably also adds you to a Welcome Wagon
-like mailing list
. The thing is, this billboard
, with it's funky pseudo-Fifties graphics, was nice and pleasant, and exuburant and inviting... and rising overhead, sticking from the center of it, was the smokestack
of the hospital
behind it; a crematorium
(well, where they dispose of cut off bits and human waste). i snickered all the way to work.