Thursday, 28 August 2008

Ad industry in a spot over Mayor's order

Mizzima News

New Delhi — Chaos laced with loss of revenue prevails following a new order by Rangoon's Mayor where outdoor advertising companies are being forced to remove all advertising hoardings that have 'provocative' pictures.

Rangoon's City Mayor Brig. Gen Aung Thein Linn at a meeting on Tuesday told advertising companies to remove all 'provocative' outdoor advertising, including billboards, causing panic among advertising firms.

A proprietor of Burma's leading advertising company told Mizzima that the Mayor gave a deadline of a week to replace all outdoor advertisements that have indecent pictures as it is against Burmese tradition and culture.

According to the proprietor, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisal, the Mayor's order has to do with removing all pictures that reveals much of women's bodies, women dressed in night gowns, and sensual postures of couples.

"The Mayor showed us pictures of some of the billboards with a projector and told us to replace them," the proprietor said.

The Mayor's presentation included pictures of model Moe Hay Ko in black leather shorts revealing her cleavage that is used in Rangoon's famous lottery shop, Moe Yan Shwe Lamin, the proprietor said.

It also included Nivea's body lotion advertisement in which a woman in a mini-skirt reveals much of her back as well as other parts of her torso, he added.

The Mayor was silent on compensating the companies for the removal and replacement of pictures and designs on outdoor hoardings.

Burma's amateur advertising industry, according to proprietors and marketing executives, has been struggling to survive amidst the agonizing procedures of getting permission from the Yangon City Development Committee, a civic body that oversees development of the city.

Advertising companies, before they can set up outdoor advertising such as billboards or light boxes, have to seek permission from the YCDC, which then checks and scrutinizes the contents of the advertisement before granting permission.

A marketing executive in Rangoon said, in order to obtain permission smoothly the palms of officials at the YCDC have to be greased heavily. And most businesses maintain a relationship, where they regularly pay the officials, to operate smoothly.

But the latest hurdle, according to another advertising business proprietor, impacts not only the advertising firms but the client companies that are advertising as it will require re-designing of the advertisements.

"As for us, we will not charge clients anything but incur all the expenses ourselves because they will be incurring expenses while redesigning the advertisements," said the proprietor.

He added that the new order entails taking pictures of outdoor advertisements and submitting it to the YCDC for fresh scrutiny.

"We will have to change whatever the YCDC finds unacceptable," he added.

A marketing executive of another advertising company said her company will bear all the expenses relating to the removal and change of the billboards, while the advertisers will incur expenses relating to changing the design or re-designing the advertisement.

"This means a loss for both, but we have to give priority to the clients because relationship with them is important," she added.

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