Monday, May 21, 2007

Giant Billboards at 1234 Market St and Why They're Good!

Oh here we go again! The PA State Legislators refuse to give SEPTA more funding, and Ed Rendell is going to try to make sure SEPTA can still survive without raising prices or cutting services. Commuters are outraged at the idea of those cuts and price hikes happening, and everyone in this city can agree, it would be a disaster for either one, let alone both, to happen.

So why is the city fighting so hard to make sure SEPTA doesn't allow for advertising?

SEPTA is trying to get permission from The Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections (L&I) Department to erect a 2-story ad on their 1234 Market st Building. This has drawn some complaints.

Mary Cawley Tracy, president of SCRUB, and someone I admire, is leading the charge, stating, "They think they can stick ads wherever they can just to make a few more bucks." My problem in this case is that the ad revenue from this is going to cover SEPTA expenses and help them stay in good financial shape.

In May 2006, they had an ad up for Dunkin Donuts. L&I fined them nearly double what they got for the ad and they were forced to take it down.

Now, when I saw this ad back then, I have to say, I was shocked. But, at the same time, I had a smile on my face. While some people saw this as blight, I saw it as a step forward for Philadelphia. The ad was cool, the ad was interesting, and the ad was practically made for a city like Philadelphia. For all the belly-aching I may do about how much I wish Philadelphia was more like New York City, it was a step towards their Times Square. To me, it was a sign of progress.

Add into that the ad is in a very smart location; Between the Lowes Hotel and the Wanamaker Building, and it's close to the PA Convention Center, which is about to expand.

The ad that is coming soon most likely is for a bank, since Citizens' Bank, located in the building, is against it because it would advertise one of their rivals.

In all honesty, this isn't an urban blight issue for a change. Considering that Market St is constantly being barraged by ads, both on buses, bus stops, billboard trucks, wrap-around bus and car ads, the occasional car or truck stopping to give away free stuff... it's hard to go down Market Street without seeing at least 20 ads. It's a hot business district.

So why stop SEPTA from making money so we don't have to face service cuts and higher fares? As long as the ads (I sincerly hope there are more!) are kept tasteful and sophisticated, I don't see a problem.

And, to beat the rush, no, at this time I do not believe there should be any other new ad ventures in Center City. City Hall already advertises as well, and no, I don't want to see ads on Independence Mall or the Liberty Bell.

Photo by Matt, aka twoeightnine

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