Wall Advertisements: Beautification of the City at its Worst!

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Stuck at the Baloch Colony flyover today, trying to avoid the beggars who kept knocking at my window asking for money… my eyes decided to examine the surroundings of the bridge I was stranded at. And what did I see? Advertisements, advertisements and more advertisements. Be it on the electricity pole next to my window or the hoarding angled at every corner at my elevated view, advertisements surrounded me. If the sky view wasn’t enough, even the wall dividing the two way bridge traffic was chalked with advertisements.

So here I am, writing a piece on the wall advertisements that we are bound to see on every empty wall in Karachi; residential inclusive.  Is this an effective means of communicating your message, it sure is a cost efficient way with no ‘wall’ tax being imposed yet. I strongly believe that our walls can literally be used to beautify the city with advertisements not just scribbled but creatively written with coloured paints rather than plain black. Wall divisions clearly marked to avoid over-writing/scribbling and portions made for the advertisers based on the space they have occupied. It can’t be that difficult to strategize?

Top users of the wall for advertisements are our political parties. They don’t need newspapers to spend huge amounts for their events. All they need to do is, select a wall and paint in their invitation for any seminar, conference or jalsa! Moreover, they even announce important party event dates via their wall paintings. Second to these political parties in the effective users of the wall are the Palmists and the Aalims or those who provide social services of bridging the gap between people and their problems. These are extremely common. No matter where you are going, you are bound to come across an advert which talks about some highly spiritual guy who is available to solve your issues, whatever they may be, work related, family related (daughter not getting married, divorce related, child birth issues, to name just a few) or even related to your personal life. With problems come solutions and with solutions comes your peace of mind. What do you need to relax? A nice trip to some farm. Indeed, “farm resorts available for rent” advertisements are next in line. Al-Jannat farm is an example.

A personal experience I’d like to narrate here. One of my extended family members was impressed by the Jannat farm advert and suggested to plan a picnic to the farm. Since our busy schedules do not let families reunite every month, so it was decided that Al-Jannat farm will be our reuniting point and so we all went. Our group of 30 + people entered Paradise (Jannat) and were utterly disappointed. This Paradise was indeed Hell on earth. The pool had frogs as our fellow swimming companies and the rooms had all sorts of insects sharing the beds with us. Our experience of falling for the wall advert was surely worth erasing from our memories.

I just have a few open ended questions for all marketers and observers to answer.

  • Can there be any expectations from the wall advertisements?
  • Is there a possibility of a wall tax in the near future?
  • Is there a way to eradicate them completely?
  • Can we have a Karachi/Pakistan Graffiti Association that takes up responsibility of the entire city and paints all the walls with creative artwork?
  • Can we ban all political parties from posting their invites on the walls?

A public relations executive by profession, I am relatively new to the world of blogging but am soon going to make my space! I am currently exploring my way to this virtual world of engagement!

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  • http://www.brandingtidbits.blogspot.com Irtifa

    I believe the problem is not with the sort of medium we use to put forth our message; it is in how we put it forth. Recently, a design school in Lahore (don’t know which one though) was assigned a couple of walls in high-traffic areas (Center Point, Mini Market, etc.) to paint murals depicting Pakistani culture, values, etc. The results are quite pleasing to look at actually. I have also come across a lot of pretty underpasses in the US painted by artists and students as part of city beautification projects.

    On the other hand, conventional media like billboards & banners if not executed well (or cluttered in one place) are visual pollutants to say the least & can make a perfectly decent skyline look ugly & chaotic. So point being, wall advertising can not only work but it can actually add color to the surroundings; what we really need to do is to consider walls as another outdoor advertising medium, charge for it, make regulations & penalize those who violate those regulations (easier said than done though).

  • Zahra

    Hi Irtifa,

    Agreed that they can be used effectively and emphasis should be on “How”. We do have students of Karachi School of Arts who have painted one of the walls too, and students of The City School PAF Chapter who had volunteered to paint the flyover walls but with the political masses, who have the “JUNOON” of wall chalking, these walls have been spoiled by writing on these drawings.


  • http://zainad.blogspot.com Zaira Rahman

    Well in Pakistan the sad part is that most people do not really care about anything beyond their own well being and lives. Thus, if they can save any cost at the expense of making their own city look ugly why the hell should we care about ethics, morals and beautification.

    Ideally, we should have proper laws that should be effectively monitored and executed so that everybody can abide by them, which is more of a utopian thought looking at the way things are in our country. Most countries have them and this is why abroad things are far more structured. But the way things are done here …they only look messy and unattractive to say the least.

    Instead of putting ugly, useless ads we could make use of our talented people and beautify some key locations through graffiti art. The entire world has streets dedicated for such stuff.